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River Island’s CIO on reshaping the future of stores through tech

Isabella Fish

River Island chief information officer (CIO) Doug Gardner explains how the fashion retailer is “rapidly” testing new technology to improve the in-store experience it offers its digitally savvy customers in the UK and Ireland.

There has been a broad and heavy investment in technology platforms at River Island, enabling us to work rapidly with new and emerging technology.

At the moment we have a lot of stuff going on in the background related to in-store technology. We are still broadly reshaping the future of our stores by trialling platforms of the future. In several stores, we are trying out mobile points of sale on iPhones, Android devices and tablets, in order to improve customer service by providing better transactions.

We are also investing in building our own micro-services to support in-store applications, such as click and collect. Currently we are going through the foundations for that, and then we can have a solid look into how we want to apply it.

We are also playing around with changing room technology. We are looking at RFID [radio frequency identification] tags to identify what products a customer has brought in a changing room. They would then be able to use a tablet in the changing room to request additional products.

River Island is also focused on looking at stock-taking technology to determine what is on the shop floor and in the storeroom. We have just signed a partnership with Spanish AI retail tech firm Nextail to roll out its technology across 343 stores in the UK, Ireland, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Nothing has been implemented yet – we are still experimenting – but the aim of our digital journey is to provide better customer service.

The technology should start to involve in-store uses before the tail-end of this year.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Lots of investment. Yet not much to show for it. Doesn’t feel rapid. More of a M&S kind of rapid!

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  • Why not just employ better staff? Technology is often used to avoid giving the consumer what they want - somebody who knows what they are talking about.

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