“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”
– Stewart Brand

Today, technology itself is not new. It’s what retailers are doing with technology that gives us a glimpse into true retail innovation. In the Retail Innovations 9 study, retail technology intervention is a key innovation theme, and there are common threads to the success stories of the remarkable best cases selected.

Firstly, highlighted retailers in the study clearly have astounding empathy with their customers. With a depth of understanding into their needs, they are manipulating technology to improve and accentuate the retail experience in imaginative ways rather than adding unnecessary and complex layers just for the sake of using technology. Secondly, in every case study, technology intervention enables a simpler, more instantly gratifying and personal shopping experience.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at how Seattle-based retailer, Hointer combines the best of the physical and online world by allowing customers to see, feel and try on clothing while offering a quick and convenient way to purchase so customers can get on with their life.




Hointer makes it easier for shoppers to stalk their ‘prey’

retail technology 2Hointer first launched as a men’s denim store and has since added women’s apparel into the mix. Rather than encouraging shoppers to spend longer in the store, Hointer enables you to be in and out in minutes. It is, in fact, a play on the word ‘hunter’ because it’s believed that men always have a target when they shop, and want to get it done quickly.

Before shopping, customers download the Hointer app or can ask a tablet equipped employee to accompany them through the store. When they see something they want to try on, customers scan the QR code or place their phone next to the NFC-enabled tag.

After scanning or tapping, customers are prompted with available sizes, and once pairs are s elected the clothes are dropped into a virtual shopping cart. When ready, shopper click ‘try on’ which sends them to a designated dressing room.

Arriving at the dressing room, the clothes are already there waiting for them, delivered through an automated robotic process on the back end. If they don’t like the clothes or want to try on a different size, they may be sent back through the chute in the dressing room and are automatically taken out of the shopping cart.

When ready to purchase, customers tap their phone to a pay station instore and swipe a credit card.

Hointer’s strategy behind the scenes

retail technology 3Hointer displays only one of each item and puts the bulk of its merchandise in an automated stockroom. Garments are hung so customers can see every detail, rather than the piles often seen in apparel stores. The back end is very small, accounting for only 10 per cent of the store, but is able to hold thousands of products due to its unique organisation format.

This back end system is entirely automated, but can also be configured to a more manual setting. Hointer’s data collection allows the company to keep track of every customer’s purchase habits, every scan they’ve made, how many times they have requested alterations, as well as how much product is available and at which stores. As a result, the retailer has lowered overall operational costs and simplified the customers experience while using technology that customers already own.

Retail Innovations 9 features more retail technology intervention case studies, including Switzerland’s SBB GoodBox , a smartphone app-based retail solution that allows passengers to order and pick up their groceries at their railway station upon arrival. You can also discover how China’s leading grocery retailer is transforming the way consumers shop through its series of fun, yet highly productive augmented reality stores that have seen a vast reduction in its operational commitments.

Retail Doctor Group is pleased to invite you to join us at our next Fit for Business Breakfast event this March 11 and 12 in Sydney and Melbourne. Peter Birtles, CEO of Super Retail Group together with Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of Australian Retailers Association, and Brian Walker of the Retail Doctor will discuss current marketplace challenges and opportunities for Australian retailers to build fitter and more innovative businesses in 2014 and beyond. Visit www.retaildoctor.com.au/events for further information.

Happy fit retailing,
Brian Walker
Retail Doctor Group

All currently released trends from Retail Innovations 9 are available to download at www.retaildoctor.com.au/retail-innovation-9.

First published by Inside Retail, February 2014