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Hong Kong Shoppers Use RFID-enabled Mirror to See What They Want

Mi-Tu, a high-end retailer, has installed RFID-enabled mirrors, catalogs and security systems designed to improve the shopping experience and boost sales.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 04, 2007Upscale fashion label and retailer Mi-Tu has outfitted two of its Hong Kong shops with RFID-enabled mirrors and electronic displays. The devices enable customers, at a glance, to view and locate a wide selection of in-store inventory while they try on and shop for clothes. The first store was equipped in November 2006, and the second deployment occurred in May of this year.

The interactive shopping system has increased sales in the stores by 30 percent, according to Mi-Tu, which sells Italian designs at 28 stores in China, Hong Kong and Macau and caters to young, high-spending female shoppers. By November, Mi-Tu will install the system in a third Hong Kong store.

The Smart Retail System includes Smart Fitting Rooms featuring mirrors with RFID antennas and interrogators installed behind them.

Mi-Tu is using Schmidt Electronics' Smart Retail System (SRS), which includes Smart Fitting Rooms featuring mirrors (known as Smart Dressing Mirrors) with EPC Gen 2 RFID antennas and interrogators installed behind them. The fitting rooms also feature LCD displays mounted on the wall, adjacent to the mirrors. The SRS system also comprises an electronic catalog (e-catalogue) application, RFID-enabled VIP customer cards, and a security system that alerts shopkeepers if a tagged garment is removed from the store.

The Smart Dressing Mirror and Smart Fitting Room elements were codeveloped by Schmidt in cooperation with Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Institute of Textiles and Clothing. Mi-Tu first approached the university about a year ago, seeking an RFID-based system that could personalize the shopping experience. The university then asked Schmidt to design a system that could provide additional choices and information to customers, both in the dressing rooms and throughout the store.

Mi-Tu attaches EPC Gen 2 tags, manufactured by Schmidt, on all garments in both stores' inventory. Each tag has a unique ID number associated with the garment's model name and description, including size, color and fabric, in Mi-Tu's Microsoft-based back-end system.

As a customer enters the fitting room and approaches the mirror holding a tagged item, the system captures and transmits the ID number, via an Ethernet connection, to the store's back-end system. The SRS software correlates the tag's number with those of other garments, and images of the corresponding items are then displayed on the nearby LCD. The customer can watch a series of images and text on the screen, which recommends mix-and-match items for the garment in hand.

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