Making the most of your mannequins – has mobile marketing gone mad?

This week House of Fraser announced that it will be bringing beacon technology to its mannequins, which will tell customers exactly what they are wearing and where these products can be found in-store. But is this a handy shopping tool, or is this a case of mobile marketing gone mad?

Like every twenty-something, I can be quite attached to my phone and have downloaded a number of apps for popular high-street stores. Whilst these are handy for browsing when I’m at home, I don’t use them when I am actually in-store. So is this something that really needs to be addressed by marketers? I am all for technology that is going to make my life easier- but getting an alert every time I walk past a mannequin is not helpful- it’s annoying- especially when I may not even be interested in any of the clothing. Bombarding consumers with information they don’t want, or need, can get very boring- and can be detrimental to the brand and customer loyalty.

Whilst technology has had a dramatic impact on my lifestyle, I am still an advocate for human interaction – what is the harm in asking a shop assistant where a top is in-store, or whether they can order it in? Surely, asking someone for the item you actually want, will be quicker, and easier, than digging around for your mobile in your overflowing handbag just to launch an app. Also, does this not just encourage the increasing number of unhelpful and uninterested shop assistants that are so common in our high street stores today?

Andy Harding, the executive director of multichannel at House of Fraser, has said: “We are always looking at ways to integrate new and innovative technology to help maximise customer shopping experiences. With such demand for mobile devices, it’s important we continue to bring new technology to our stores.” But House of Fraser has also said that the aim of this incentive is to provide them with more information on the shoppers visiting the stores- age, demographic, and what they have bought. This begs the question- is this an app for the shopper, or is this a sugarcoated opportunity for the retailer?

As mobiles and tablets become an important part of our lives, it seems that more and more brands are introducing apps to try to make our lives easier. But for retailers like House of Fraser, using technology for technology’s sake means they are losing sight of the most important part of the shopping experience- good old-fashioned customer service. Being assisted by someone who is friendly and helpful will always be important to the shopper, and will impress much more than any app- or talking mannequin.

Written by Chloe Pope.

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