By adding a QR code to each of its luxury bags, the New York fashion retailer is enabling shoppers to access content after they make a purchase, as part of the Digital Emotional Intelligence offering from Avery Dennison RBIS and EVRYTHNG.
When customers buy a luxury bag at Rebecca Minkoff, they bring home a digital profile for that product that allows them to engage with it long after purchasing it. The company has been employing radio frequency identification technology at its stores to improve inventory management and the in-store experience, but is now focusing on something that extends the technology further: engaging with consumers and gauging their emotional responses.
The ALWASYON bag, unveiled during this year's holiday shopping season, features the ability for the company to "talk" to bag owners after their purchase via a QR code on a label that is linked to the product's identity in the server. That allows Rebecca Minkoff to better understand customers' emotions with regard to their buying choices, aid shoppers with information about their products and facilitate the processing of returns.
The solution is provided by Avery Dennison Retail Branding and Information Solutions (RBIS) and EVRYTHNG. It leverages EVRYTHNG's Smart Products Platform which taps into the concept of Digital Emotional Intelligence (DEQ), the company's framework of research that focuses on the power of connected products.
"The goal with the ALWAYSON feature, which is now incorporated into all of our handbags, is to enhance the customer's experience beyond the product itself," says Uri Minkoff, the fashion retailer's CEO and founder. "It's meant to engage with the consumer on a deeper level with the brand, keep her updated with all things Rebecca Minkoff and keep her engaged with our product beyond the store and the moment of purchase." The QR code label is an extension of the store's UHF RFID-based system that brings automated content to shoppers while they are inside the store.
Rebecca Minkoff has been experimenting with and deploying RFID-based solutions at its Store of the Future in SoHo since it opened (see Rebecca Minkoff Brings Self-Service to Its SoHo Store With RFID). The store features RFID-enabled smart mirrors in fitting rooms to identify garments and display content about them for customers. A shopper can select other colors or sizes offered, as well as request that they be brought to her fitting room, by selecting that option on the mirror, which forwards the request to employees' Apple iPads. The mirror includes six language options and three lighting selections.
This year, Avery Dennison and EVRYTHNG teamed up to provide a solution that they called an Active Digital Identity (ADI) for tagged products (see EVRYTHNG, Avery Dennison RBIS Join Consumer QR Code Data With EPC RFID). The ADI resides on a cloud-based platform, to be shared between consumers, using a QR code or other identifier, as well as with supply chain members or the retailer via an RFID tag. Now, the companies have launched a deployment using this solution and the DEQ framework in the form of the ALWAYSON bag. Shoppers who purchase the bag can use the QR code to view "insider" news from the store, along with styling recommendations. In the future, Minkoff says, they will also be able to access invitations to his company's exclusive events.
"We aim to include this program long-term as a tool to engage with our customer, get to know her better, and get an even deeper understanding into the product she wants most," Minkoff explains. "It will be exciting to see how that plays out as we continue on this journey."
The ALWAYSON bag and Janela technology will, in the long run, offer more than just continued engagement with customers. The system is also designed to gauge the interests of consumers in order to help retailers and brands better market their products. "People are emotional, while technology is pervasive," says Andy Hobsbawm, EVRYTHNG's co-founder and CMO, so it follows that "the ubiquitous nature of technology plays a role in our emotional lives."
The technology targets the kind of shopper who enjoys the process of browsing through products. "Some people want to get in and out; others enjoy the process of shopping," Hobsbawm says. Emotional shoppers, he adds, are the ones of interest for this solution.
The pressure is on retailers, more than ever, to find ways to create an emotional experience that might draw shoppers into physical stores, and encourage them to return. The first step, says Bill Toney, Avery Dennison's VP of global RFID market development, is to understand the shopper's emotions.
It's a two-pronged approach. Store managers can collect data based on what interests shoppers—not only at the store, but also when they return home. They can then better target their marketing efforts accordingly. For instance, if RFID technology identifies that a product is rarely being handled by shoppers at the store, the manager can thus determine that it is possibly being displayed at the wrong location, or that is not a desirable product.
The system can also be aimed at benefitting shoppers. One way to target a customer's emotions is to provide personalized service that isn't typical in stores. Hobsbawm cites Spotify as an example; the music service can quickly identify a user's preferences and personalize offerings accordingly. That can be accomplished at a store as well. If, for instance, a shopper responds to one product by pausing at that display, picking up the product or seeking information about it using an app, a recommendation for another item could arrive on his or her phone.
On the other hand, a shopper could be detected as seeming frustrated if he or she repeatedly picks up several items, or one specific item, and then puts it back down. This could indicate that the customer might need help from a sales associate, due to failing to find the desired products.
Once the buyer arrives home, if he or she uses an extension of that product's details in the form of a QR code or other identifier on the label, the retailer or brand will then know what is and is not attracting interest, such as companion products or similar goods, or perhaps coupons.
The DEQ research relies on whatever technology a shopper could take home with the product—either a QR code or Near Field Communication (NFC) tag that can be used with that person's smartphone to access data. For instance, a user could tap the phone next to the tag or scan the QR code, and thus be invited to register a particular product. The individual's phone, along with any identifying information provided, and the product are then linked in the brand's or retailer's software. "The bag then has a one-to-one relationship with you," Hobsbawm says.
Typically, Toney says, retailers or brands that are presently in discussions with EVRYTHNG and Avery Dennison RBIS are already using RFID technology for inventory tracking, and now aim to overlay the QR code or NFC tag consumer-directed capabilities onto their existing system. "This is the next wave of driving deeper consumer engagement," he states.