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Three major UK stores have become the first to trial Bluetooth beacon technology within shop-window mannequins – designed to provide customers with information about the clothes being displayed.

The three stores – Curtis of Jermyn Street, Bentalls in Kingston upon Thames and House of Fraser’s Aberdeen ‘online’ concept store will use the low-energy beacons to transmit information to customers’ mobile devices, up to 50 meters away.

The ‘VMBeacon’, produced by technology company Iconeme is designed to be hidden within mannequins and provide information through the firm’s white-label app – enabling customers to view product details and special offers, see the location of an item within a store or even buy directly through the app.

If the thought of being bombarded by alerts every time you go shopping concerns you, then fear not – customers will need to download the app and opt in before receiving anything on their device.

With 89% of consumers now regularly using a mobile device whilst shopping, the use of beacons within mannequins seems the perfect way for retailers to communicate with potential customers, drive engagement and maximise shoppers’ time – 24 hours a day.

On the flip side, retailers will need to ensure that the content the beacons emit is consistently relevant, beneficial and engaging – or risk alienating customers.

Perhaps most significant is the level of data the beacons could generate. Depending on privacy settings, the technology has the potential to collect vast amounts of information on consumer behaviour – gathering analytics on location, buying habits, age, gender and sizing to name a few.

Despite being in its infancy, it only seems a matter of time before the technology spreads beyond the mannequins of large high street stores to supermarkets, car showrooms, museums etc. – and eventually to products themselves (Grolsch has already given us a taster of similar tech within its packaging), creating all round more rewarding experiences for consumers.

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