A new retail concept, Hointer in Seattle, is a shining example of how marketers can dream up almost unimaginable concepts using smartphones to get people to buy things.
Hointer, the brainchild of Dr. Nadia Shouraboura, a former Amazon executive, gives full control of the shopping experience over to customers and their smartphones. There are no stacks or piles of clothing, no sales people that have to unlock dressing rooms for customers and no manikins.
Customers walk into an understated retail environment displaying close to 150 styles of jeans hanging from their belt buckles. Customers simply scan the attached barcode of the jean they like, select a size and color and the pants are waiting for them in an assigned fitting room. The clothing is delivered through a shoot and if another size is needed they use their smartphone to order it. Any unwanted clothing is dropped down the return shoot and removed from the customer’s shopping cart. If you’re happy with your order, scan your credit card and walk out the door.
All of the inventory the store carries is kept behind the scenes and delivered to the dressing rooms by a super-secret delivery system, which keeps costs down and customers happy. The concept is aimed at men, who arguably dislike shopping, but it is also popular with women.
As a former Amazon executive, you can see where Shouraboura came up with this idea, which could fundamentally change the way people shop. She invested $10 million to launch the Seattle pilot store and has three more in the works.
I’m crossing my fingers for New York.