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Exhibit Shop Sells Fashion, Cosmetics With RFID

Last month, ICC's His & Hers launched its first unmanned store at Bitec's Saha Group Fair, in Bangkok, using RFID technology to identify goods being purchased, as well as AI to link each purchase with a specific shopper via facial recognition.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 23, 2019

ICC International PLC recently launched an unmanned fashion store that leverages RFID, facial recognition and artificial intelligence (AI) to enable shoppers to browse through products, select what they want and take it, without requiring help from a live sales person. The His & Hers Smart Shop was featured at last month's 23rd annual Saha Group Fair, held in Bangkok. Following the event, the company plans to deploy the solution at a permanent store in its Bangkok headquarters.

ICC is the marketing division of fashion and cosmetics company Saha Group. The firm comprises 800 businesses, including food and other consumer products. Its properties include approximately 100 His & Hers stores throughout Thailand. ICC has been in business for half a century, says Surat Wongratanapassorn, the company's VP of IT, but retail is changing and consumers expect a more digitally oriented shopping experience. The retailer has recently been pursuing a more digitally focused model for fashion sales, Surat explains.

ICC's goal is to make shopping more accessible to a younger, more tech-savvy audience. "We like to develop something from the old traditional [model] that still features new lifestyle trends in stores," Surat says. Some stores feature promotions via an app—for instance, a store could sell apparel but provide a coupon that a user could redeem for a free coffee at one of ICC's coffee shops.

In the meantime, Saha Group hosts an annual fair supported by the Thai government's Department of International Trade Promotion. Typically, one million people attend the Bangkok event, at which ICC has the opportunity to promote its products. "We have an exhibition for customers," Surat says, at which it can showcase clothing, food, appliances and sporting goods. This year, the company included an unmanned, fully automated His & Hers store at the exhibition.

During the past two years, ICC has experimented with artificial intelligence (AI) solutions from telecommunication company True Corp., including a system that could detect which product is being selected or taken out of the store via camera-based data. Such a solution, however, is too high in cost to be deployed across numerous stores, Surat explains. Therefore, the company began investigating passive UHF RFID technology to provide an affordable way to identify goods, and to then link those products with a specific shopper.

The Saha Group exhibition store measured 90 square meters (969 square feet) and included 300 stock-keeping units (SKUs) from three brands: Arrow Apparel, Wacoal (a lingerie provider) and cosmetics company BSC. During the event, shoppers could visit the unmanned shop, make selections and be charged automatically for what they took.

Each tagged item has a passive EPC UHF RFID tag attached to it. The tag comes with an Impinj Monza 5 or Monza 6 RFID chip or an NXP Semiconductors chip, Surat says, and the inlay measures 2 centimeters by 10 centimeters (0.8 inch by 3.9 inches). The relatively long length of the tag ensures that the antenna reliably responds to interrogations from the reader, Surat explains, preventing any mistakes at the point of sale, where there is no room for error. The unique ID number on each tag is linked to the product's SKU in ICC's software.

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