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Is RFID the New Weapon for In-Store Customer Engagement?

Long regarded as a solution best suited for the operations side of the apparel business, RFID is emerging from the shadows as retailers discover how the technology can engage shoppers, providing benefits well beyond inventory accuracy.

RFID and electronic article surveillance technology firm Checkpoint Systems has come up with the InterACT suite of solutions that it believes can help retailers lift both customer engagement and sales. When consumers visit an apparel store, they’re often looking for detailed product information in addition to the experience of touching, feeling and trying on garments of interest. Though this has long been a fairly “static” experience—the clothes hang on a rack, customers bring them to fitting room—Checkpoint believes RFID, and its InterACT solutions in particular, can inject some interactivity into the process.

In-store shoppers often are seeking some sort of reassurance about the products they’re considering. Though ensuring the right fit is half the battle, that may no longer be enough to seal the deal and compel a purchase. What other items can “complete the look?”

That’s where InterACT steps in, leveraging product data collected via the RFID-tagged merchandise and user-friendly touchscreen devices that display product info when they sense an RFID tag nearby. The displays show standard product information, which could be fabric type, country of origin and care instructions, plus other helpful inventory-driven data that RFID is known for, such as whether other sizes and colors options are available elsewhere in the store. The customer may still need an associate’s help finding a desired size or color, but at least she has the confidence that it’s there—somewhere.

What’s more, InterACT takes a cue from Amazon—which attributes roughly 35 percent of sales to its product recommendation engine—to suggest complementary merchandise in a seamless cross-selling approach that could help to boost sales and basket size.

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According to Checkpoint, the InterACT suite is envisioned to be an enhancement of how retail stores traditionally use mannequins to position products in the best light, bringing merchandise to life. InterACT’s “mirror” option aids customers in picturing how an item would look on them and also allows shoppers to mix and match items to depict various looks without physically trying them all on.

The InterACT display can be configured to suit various locations within the store, such as in the fitting room or via compact form-factor devices appropriate for merchandise display tables, in addition to the standard store floor set-up. Checkpoint also created an associate-facing InterACT mobile solution so that store employees can better assist shoppers with comprehensive information about apparel and accessories.

“It’s clear that stores need to evolve in order to meet the demands of today’s consumers,” said Alan Tamny, global product management, Checkpoint Systems. “The in-store experience is very closely aligned to the store’s overall success and according to one piece of research, four in five shoppers said they’ll never come back if they receive a poor experience. InterACT is a unique way to use RFID data, helping engage the customer, improve satisfaction and boost sales.”