September 24, 2023
River Island storefront

River Island

Shopping for garments in particular person is usually a irritating expertise. You go to the becoming room, strive on the merchandise, and discover you have picked the flawed measurement. You then need to dress, return onto the store ground, get the right-sized merchandise, and undergo the entire course of once more within the becoming room.

Lastly, you discover the proper merchandise in the proper measurement — however now it’s important to wait in a protracted line to make your buy. What you thought was going to be a fast and simple process has become a little bit of a slog.

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However, what if there was a retailer who made the entire course of of shopping for garments in particular person — from attempting on garments, to purchasing gadgets, and even securing extra trendy gadgets sooner or later — a way more seamless expertise? 

That is the goal of excessive avenue vogue retailer River Island, whose CIO Adam Warne has applied a spread of digital options — incorporating radio frequency identification (RFID) expertise, sensors, video screens, and information analytics — to assist garments consumers overcome the challenges they encounter.

“Should you’ve ever been in a becoming room and one thing does not match proper, it may be irritating,” he says. “The entire initiative began with, ‘How we’re going to enhance life for the client?'”

River Island — which has 250 shops within the U.Ok. and a spread of franchises, companions, and concessions in places across the globe, together with North America, Europe, and the Center East — makes use of RFID tags to offer every product a singular reference quantity that may be acknowledged in good becoming rooms, which embody screens to assist clients as they store.

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“As a result of we’re RFID-tagged, you may take 4 or 5 gadgets right into a becoming room, you grasp them on the hook, and a display pops up and it tells you precisely what you have taken into the becoming room,” says Warne.

“After which if you need a special measurement, you may press the display and someone will deliver you a special measurement. So, it is successfully a customer-enhancing expertise that saves some trouble.”

River Island scan

Tagged gadgets are robotically scanned within the digital becoming rooms.

River Island

As soon as gadgets are scanned, clients acquire entry to the identical product info they’d get on-line, comparable to info on measurement, coloration, and materials.

The info-led initiative is powered by Snowflake’s Retail Knowledge Cloud, which permits retailers like River Island to tie collectively a wide range of information sources right into a single repository, supporting enterprise-wide efforts to show info into perception.

In addition to decreasing a few of the hassles of in-person procuring, River Island additionally gleans essential efficiency insights from RFID tagging, comparable to whether or not a buyer needed to change an merchandise to get a special measurement or if a product was tried on however not bought.

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Warne says the result’s e-commerce-like conversion charges in brick-and-mortar shops, which is the sort of info that few retailers have at their disposal. 

“That provides quicker perception again to the product crew for issues that individuals are attempting on and never shopping for or for individuals attempting one thing on and having a special measurement — perhaps we have one thing flawed with the match?” he says.

“Possibly we have to re-label the product to say it is a totally different measurement than it really is as a result of we bought the sizing flawed. Or perhaps individuals are attempting it on and no person’s shopping for it, so perhaps we have to substitute it with one thing else within the retailer.”

Curiously, Warne says the manufacturing of this detailed information about gross sales and types was an “afterthought”. 

However whereas the initiative was established to spice up buyer experiences, the mixture of RFID tagging and Snowflake’s cloud-based platform is now powering data-led motion throughout the enterprise.

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“The worth that we get from having that information is admittedly, actually highly effective,” he says. “And what it is slowly doing is that it is making us take into consideration how we are able to leverage information for various methods on the level that we’re developing with concepts.” 


Warne: “If you take a look at the profit that tagging provides us when it comes to visibility, it is unimaginable.”

River Island

Warne says the e-commerce-style evaluation of in-store gross sales helps to affect product funding selections and even store format design.

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He estimates about 99.8% of merchandise at River Island are actually RFID-tagged, with the one huge exception being liquids within the firm’s magnificence vary (he says tags do not work nicely with liquids).

The good becoming rooms are being utilized in about 20 shops and Warne describes the outcomes as “phenomenal thus far”.

“The price of RFID-tagging these gadgets is minimal,” he says. “However whenever you take a look at the profit that tagging provides us when it comes to visibility, it is unimaginable. Inventory checking in a retailer now takes hours, not days. You simply stroll round with a scanner and it tells you every part that is there.”

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The RFID tags are additionally used to energy self-checkout, so clients can get out and in of the shop a lot faster.

After they’re prepared to purchase, buyers drop their gadgets right into a “good bin”, which robotically scans the RFID tags and produces a invoice.

Smart till at River Island

The tills in retailer are good, too.

River Island

“You simply put every part within the bin, the gadgets pop up on a display, you pay, and also you stroll out,” says Warne. “There isn’t any de-tagging and there is not any complexity. It’s totally easy.” 

River Island’s dedication to expertise is not uncommon. Gartner says international IT spending within the retail trade will grow by 6.6% in 2023 to succeed in $193.4 billion. The analyst expects spending to develop 7.3% yearly to succeed in $240.7 billion by 2026.

Different big-name manufacturers have additionally investigated the potential for utilizing RFID tagging and different rising applied sciences to energy smarter client experiences, together with Walmart and Nike.

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The place River Island’s method is uncommon is the dimensions of its dedication to rising expertise and its want to create a joined-up method to digital transformation that produces advantages for patrons and the corporate’s backside line, says Warne.

“Each few months, I am going to go for a wander down Oxford Road in London as a result of that is the place lots of people have their flagship shops. The fact is that, after I go for these retail expertise visits, I do not actually see loads that is totally different within the excessive avenue,” he says. 

“I believe there’s lots of discuss altering the expertise in retail and never very a lot motion. A number of the issues that we’re doing at River Island are about delivering one thing that’s differentiated.”

Warne says these data-led efforts will proceed with the goal of utilizing all types of expertise — from RFID tagging to analytics and synthetic intelligence — to make the in-store procuring expertise much less irritating and way more pleasurable.

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“We have at all times been a enterprise that is made vogue inexpensive for lots of shoppers,” he says. “Developments change in a short time and we have to ensure that we’re nonetheless creating the proper fashions and the most effective experiences for our clients.”