Mannequins Evolve from “ Dummies ” to Geeks /In-store Analytics
By Ralph Crabtree
More Realistic Mannequins
Mannequins are often called dummies, but it turns out there is quite a lot of thought going into the way brick-and-mortar stores use mannequins to display their merchandise and improve the shopper experience. Trends in store mannequins have changed over the years. At times, brick-and-mortar stores have preferred to use basic torsos with proportions more fitting for a Barbie doll than a full-grown woman. Others come with heads attached, and fully made up faces.
Recently, store mannequins have gotten a lot more interesting. They are sporting back fat, tattoos, and thicker waists than you’d see on a Barbie. This shift to more realistic mannequins has grown out of a desire by stores to show consumers how clothes might really look on an average, imperfect woman – or man. Indeed, different stores are going with different looks for their mannequins, depending on the demographic they’re catering to. They’re also trying out different poses to better capture real life use.
More Realistic Mannequins
Given how much strategizing is put into making these lifeless figures a store focal point, there are additional possibilities to make them even more useful. Demographic targeting is a good first step, but beyond that, store mannequins might be effectively used to improve the brick-and-mortar shopper’s experience.
Mannequins collect multichannel retail analytics on dwell times, measuring how much time shoppers spend perusing different locations of the store.
In-store analytics might be compared among different mannequins in a brick-and-mortar store, or data could be collected and compared from a single mannequin wearing different outfits to get insights about effective marketing … and popular merchandise. You could even test the level of interest in the mannequin itself to see whether customers really do appreciate seeing clothing displayed on a mannequin that looks like they do, or would prefer seeing their own reflection in a runway model.
Some find mannequins that watch shoppers creepy and a bit too close to spying. Privacy is an issue, too, considering that the shopper’s face can be captured.
A Bluetooth smart mannequin fitted with a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon can trigger a mobile app on a shopper’s smartphone when the shopper comes within the range of the beacon. Coupons, product information and access to assistance can all be offered to the shopper through the app. Beacons, independent of mannequins, are available to mount on shelves and displays but including them in mannequins makes good sense as the stopping power of the brick-and-mortar display, conversion rate and other in-store analytics can be measured – at least for shoppers that have their location service enabled and the store’s BLE-enabled app.
Mannequins are good for Business
The mannequin story is, at heart, a story about good customer service in brick-and-mortar stores. It underscores how retail stores have so many options to improve the shopper experience. That headless, Barbie-shaped mannequin of yesteryear is a kind of metaphor for an old fashioned store that saw its mission as offering merchandise to a somewhat captive audience, with minimal attention to the individual shopper.
These days the individual shopper experience is of prime importance and there are many ways to use mannequins to better serve customers … and better understand them.