QR Codes Plus Stockroom Robots Make Jeans Shopping a Breeze

try on jpeg HointerSome men hate to shop. Just walking into a typical retail establishment can create a sense of panic. Even with an agenda for shopping for a new pair of jeans, for example, the selection is confusing, the inventory overwhelming, the fitting rooms intimidating and the clerks over-solicitous.

Hointer, an emerging men’s clothing chain that opened its first shop in Seattle in December 2012, has solved the mysteries of mid- to high-end men’s apparel shopping with a unique Point of Sale (POS) concept that incorporates QR codes, scanned by a smartphone (either your own or one they will loan you), on each of their 150 jeans styles and colors from a couple of dozen American designers. An example of each pair of jeans, along with sweatshirts and hoodies, is hung in a showroom-like space for shoppers to examine for color, style and fabric. Each has a QR code attached, which, when scanned with the shopper’s size, instantly sends the information over the internet. Robots in the back room of the store are alerted to select the appropriate style and size and invisibly “whoosh” the jeans to a designated fitting room within 30 seconds. Smaller and larger sizes or different colors can also be selected while in the fitting room. No more sifting through piles of clothes, often unsorted by size; no more unfolding and folding; no more putting pants back on to select a different size or style; no more shopping under the wary eye of a salesperson.

If the customer likes the product, he can simply charge it via his phone through the same POS app, with the touch of a wall-mounted tablet and a slide of a credit card on the attached card reader. He’s then free to put the items in a bag and leave the store. If he doesn’t want to complete the purchase, he drops it back in the dressing room chute and it’s removed from the app’s shopping cart and re-inventoried. No human interaction is required.

Every pair of jeans has a wireless tag that tracks its location in the shop—or alerts the store’s sole employee if someone tries to leave without paying.

The process is the brainchild of Nadia Shouraboura, CEO of Hointer. She notes that the barcode/POS process has resulted in lower labor costs, efficiency on the shop floor and a better customer experience. As the store grows, they’ll carry shirts, shoes and other items as well.

Watch the video produced by GeekWire for a virtual tour of the shopping experience at Hointer.

Hointer is located at 400 NE 45th Street in Seattle. The company was established in 2012 by “a bunch of techies who hate the old-school way of buying clothes,” according to the website, and is led by Nadia Shouraboura, Ph.D., former head of supply chain and fulfillment technologies at Amazon.com. Dr. Shouraboura plans to launch more shops in Seattle and in San Francisco, London and Tokyo; and hopes to soon launch Hointress for the many busy women who hate to shop, too.


Written by Suzi Harkola


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