Unmanned ICC store ready
Soft launch for His & Her Smart Shop
In keeping with rapid change in the fashion business and digital technology, ICC International Plc, the marketing arm for fashion and cosmetics under Saha Group, plans to open its first experimental unmanned store this month.
The move by Saha Group, the 77-year-old consumer goods conglomerate, reflects the determination to adopt digital technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), big data and the Internet of Things, in order to maximise efficiency, enhance the consumer experience and, most importantly, survive.
ICC endured a troubled period over the past few years, starting with affordable fast fashion brands entering the Thai market, followed by the proliferation of e-commerce and social media. Multiple sales channels are luring entrepreneurs and small businesses to create their own fashion and cosmetics brands.
"Both our sales and profits have declined for these reasons," Surat Wongratanapassorn, vice-president for the IT division, told the Bangkok Post. "Now is the time for us to run and ride the digital wave via many marketing tools, including the launching of our first unmanned store to enhance customer experience."
The company will soft-launch the His & Her Smart Shop during the 23rd Saha Group Fair at Bitec, June 27-30.
The store occupies space of just 90 square metres in the initial stage.
"The idea of His & Her Smart Shop emerged after we had the opportunity to visit Alibaba Group in Hangzhou, China," Mr Surat said.
The company plans to spend 80-100 million baht on the IT system for its unmanned store in the areas of connecting business management and central software, together with sales and supply chain, radio-frequency identification (RFID), developing a big data system to understand each customer personally and developing a digital platform.
Boonkiat Chokwatana, ICC's president, said the unmanned His & Her Smart Shop will employ a variety of new software and hardware technology, developed with AI in cooperation with True Corporation, to operate a new series of services provided via facial recognition technology for entry to the store, making payments and checking out.
Some 300 items from Arrow apparel, Wacoal lingerie and BSC cosmetics are available at His & Her Smart Shop during the test run.
After the test run next week, the company plans to open a second unmanned store at the head office of ICC in the Sathu Pradit area and the third one in the Rama III area.
There are currently about 100 His & Her original shops across the country. Some of these will be transformed into unmanned stores in the future, depending on consumer response.
In addition, His & Her has teamed up with Brainwake, a specialty coffee shop, to open branches in His & Her stores.
Mr Surat said the company also plans to open digital flagship stores for some fashion brands under ICC next year for a seamless shopping alternative.
"His & Her has 2 million members," he said. "With the big data system, we can build special customer groups and keep them with us in the long run."
Although the sales contribution of ICC through the digital channel is less than 5% of total sales, the company aims for sales from this channel to make up more than 10% in the near future.