While most retailers continue to dip their toes in the Internet of Things waters, Thomas Pink has jumped in with both feet — and is seeing results.
The luxury menswear brand is involved in an IoT proof-of-concept test at its store on Wall Street in downtown Manhattan. Using a cloud-based IoT platform from Acuitas Digital, the retailer has the backbone it needs to seamlessly integrate networking, hardware, software and analytics solutions — all necessary pieces to digitize the physical store.
For retailers still wrapping their arms around the concept, IoT connects smart devices via web-based networks, allowing them to share data. Breaking down the many silos that still exist between business processes, IoT drives communications internally within lines of business, as well as externally with shoppers — a move that brings retailers one step closer to a truly seamless shopping experience.
While there are many IoT solutions to deploy, Thomas Pink’s smart solution of choice is RFID. A technology that made its bones in the supply chain, RFID has evolved into a solution that integrates data across point solutions, delivering near-real-time information to associates when they need it most — while they are engaging shoppers.
Thomas Pink “is taking advantage of this IoT solution to learn and evaluate its impact on the overall business,” Nick Catero, sales and business development manager of vertical propositions for BT Global Services, said during an exclusive store tour. “By focusing on using the technology across multiple-use cases versus adopting individual point solutions, Thomas Pink will drive higher business value.”
Specifically, the retailer is tracking movement of merchandise and people around the store, predicting shopper behavior and delivering real-time interactive in-store experiences. These details will help managers personalize customer service, optimize store layout, improve employee workflows, reduce cost and grow sales, according to the retailer. Here’s how IoT is benefitting Thomas Pink:
Improving inventory accuracy
By applying RFID tags to the hang tags of approximately 2,000 items, and adding the Intel Sensor Platform and dedicated sensors within display shelves, the stockroom and near point-of-sale, the retailer gathers actionable, near-real-time intelligence on inventory levels and merchandise movement across the store.
Specifically, the tags monitor merchandise included in Thomas Pink’s “Business Bundle 4 4 $400,” a promotion highlighting the retailer’s most popular shirts, which range between $130 and $185. By integrating a mobile dashboard from SATO, associates use iPads to monitor inventory levels storewide, as well as where merchandise resides.
Since adding the solutions, the store has reported increased efficiency and achieved near 100% stock accuracy.
“Besides improving inventory management, the mobile dashboard improves customer service,” Catero said. “Associates know where merchandise is across all store zones, which helps them assist shoppers in finding the ideal size, style and color shirt more efficiently.”
Speeding up replenishment
Locating merchandise is only one piece of the customer engagement puzzle. The retailer also needs to keep shelves stocked to meet customer demand. As RFID-labeled product moves through the POS, associates have insights into which styles and sizes need to be replaced, how many items are still available in the stockroom and what needs to be re-ordered.
This replaces previous limitations caused by legacy handheld RFID systems that required weekly or daily manual store scans, according to Alex Field, marketing director for Thomas Pink.
Leveraging more robust analytics
Through a partnership with in-store analytics provider RetailNext, Thomas Pink is on its way to better understanding customer demand patterns. By analyzing customer-specific big data flowing through IoT devices, retailers can more deeply determine how customers are interacting with the brand.
“Eye in the sky”-style domes installed in the store’s ceiling monitor shoppers as they move throughout the sales floor. They detect dwell time across specific store zones and fixtures, conversion rates and foot traffic.
By merging big data from RFID tags, including merchandise located in specific store zones, as well as items that were sold or abandoned in other store departments, Thomas Pink “can see trends across all of these data points and understand how these activities fit together,” Catero said. “It gives a complete view of the shopping trip, and the information needed to make better merchandising or marketing decisions.”
Overall, big data analytics will help the store “improve store efficiency and performance to help our people spend more time with customers rather than getting tied up in administrative tasks,” Field said.
“It will bring our digital store strategy to life, and will show how it can become a real driver of growth,” he added.
While some retailers are still exploring the value of the Internet of Things, Thomas Pink embarked on an IoT program as a way to track the movement of merchandise and people around the store, predict shopper behavior and deliver real-time interactive in-store experiences.