Imagine a showroom with only one of each available item and a stockroom that’s automated by robots. Welcome to Hointer, the new high-tech fashion chain.
With all the new technology available to retailers, it doesn’t take much smarts to innovate on the showroom floor. But to re-imagine the entire in-store shopping experience, it helps to have an ex-Amazon Vice-President at the helm.
Nadia Shouraboura now heads up Hointer, a high-tech clothing chain that opened its first branch in Seattle in November this year. The concept is designed specifically to encourage men into the store – a demographic that is generally regarded as disliking the traditional apparel shopping process.
Hointer is unique because it doesn’t have many overly-helpful sales assistants, no piles of stock everywhere and more importantly, no lines at the register. In this shop, only one size of each different item is on display and shoppers use an app to scan the items they wish to try on, selecting their preferred size and colour as they do so.
The app communicates with a robotic system in the store’s stock room, which then automates the picking process for the selected goods. Tension cables are employed to convey the clothing to one of six dressing rooms, before dropping them in a basket therein. According to The Economist, the whole process takes around 30 seconds.
Once the customer has selected an item for purchase, they put their item in a bag, swipe a card through the self-serve POS and away they go.
“Soon, every item in the world will be sold like this,” Shouraboura told The Economist. “It will be bigger than Amazon.”
How well founded Shouraboura’s optimism is remains to be seen, but we can say that Hointer is certainly one of the most technologically advanced bricks and mortar experiences going around. Every pair of jeans available in the shop has a wireless tag that allows the shop to track its exact location, and with the robotic stock delivery system, there’s no need for spending big on staffing.
In order to give you a better idea of how the system works, here’s some YouTube footage from GeekWire: