The IoT Weaves Service, Marketing and Inventory at House of Blue Jeans

A small retail store in The Netherlands is using a range of technologies to help shoppers find what they're looking for—and have fun doing so.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 14, 2015

It's hard to tell where Michael Hauser's love for denim ends and where his love of technology begins. The 25-year-old Dutch entrepreneur was just 20 years old when he opened House of Blue Jeans, a 100-square-meter (1,080-square-foot) clothing shop in Zoetermeer, a small city east of The Hague. He initially launched his business as an online store, Hauser says, and when he opened the brick-and-mortar version, he was eager to find ways in which using technology could make running the physical shop efficient but also more appealing to his customers.

Hauser sells men's casual apparel with a focus (as the store name implies) on denim. This year, Hauser started accepting payments using DigiByte, a type of digital crypto-currency similar to Bitcoin. That is when he was contacted by one of DigiByte's investors: Tofugear, a Hong Kong-based startup that develops in-store displays that integrate a retailer's inventory, loyalty program, social-media campaign and payment interface onto a single platform.

An employee uses a handheld reader to conduct inventory counting.
Hauser's interest in the Internet of Things was planted when he bought a Zebra Technologies RFID label printer-encoder so that he could create an RFID tag for each item and manually attach it to that clothing's hangtag while entering it into his store's inventory. "It used to take all day to count inventory," Hauser says. "Now it takes five minutes." He uses a handheld reader to interrogate the RFID tags, made by Smartrac, on the clothes on the sale floor, as well as those in stock.

By the end of this past summer, Hauser had worked with Tofugear to marry his RFID system with the startup's point-of-sale, smart-mirror and customer-service platform, as well as a smartphone application available for either iOS or Android phones. "I'm always interested in new technology, and I want to stay focused on the future," the digital native says.

Upon entering the store, shoppers find paper flyers and a poster apprising them that a House of Blue Jeans smartphone app is available. They are offered a 5 percent discount at checkout, Hauser says, merely for downloading the app while inside the building.

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