Another Possible Retail Future

We’ve all been watching for a while now as online and brick and mortar retail have collided and converged. We know it’s here to stay and that there’s a lot of evolving left to do. None of us know what the end product will look like (though maybe it’s better to acknowledge that there is no end product- just way points along the path). 

I think I might have stumbled on one of those way points. There’s a new concept store in the Seattle area called Hointer. No idea where the name came from or what it means, but it’s a fascinating combination of internet and brick and mortar.
 When you walk in the store (which at this point is men’s pants only), you download an app on your smart phone. There’s one pair of each style of pant hanging in the store. You scan the tag on that pair, put in your size in the app, and the pants shows up in the changing room for you to try on in what they say is 30 seconds. If you want to purchase after trying it on, you swipe your credit card in the scanner in the fitting room. Your receipt will be emailed to you. If not, you just put the pants in a chute in the changing room and as it falls to wherever it goes and is automatically removed from the pants you’ve selected and returned to inventory.
Unless you want to, you never need to interact with a sales person. I’m not quite sure if that’s good or bad. Depends on the shopper I suppose. And of course, the store keeps up to date track of its inventory and that inventory is shared with its suppliers.
I’ve had a tendency in recent years to harp on the importance of inventory management and operational efficiency. This store seems to make that a virtuous part of the selling process which I really love.
I haven’t been in the store yet. I’d want to know a lot more about the cost of the required technology, the impact on operating expense, and the comparative price points of the product. I’m also curious about the complexity that will occur as the product line is expanded.
Here’s a link to a news story where the reporter goes through the purchase process. I hope you’ll watch it.   Sorry about the short commercial at the start of the video.