IoT Hero Zliide Brings Virtual Shopping Experience into Retail Stores
Introduction to Zliide
We recently had the chance to speak with Morten Møgelmose, Co-Founder and CEO of Zliide, a Danish company merging the digital and physical realms of the fashion retail world. Zliide's Bluetooth security tags bridge the gap between virtual and in-store retail experiences, providing a seamless and heightened customer experience. Zliide tags connect with shoppers' smart phones, allowing them to conveniently self-checkout at any moment and access product information, photos, and videos to enhance their shopping experience. The tags also provide valuable data for retailers, giving key insights into specific stores, items, and customer preferences. Below Morten shares background on the company's overall mission and insights behind how the company's innovative tag technology works.
Can you tell us about Zliide?
Zliide is a Danish company founded in 2016 with a vision to always take the consumer's point of view first. Fashion retail has always been really good at providing consumers with a great "wow" experience when they come into the stores, but a lot of the stores have forgotten the digital evolution of customers. Our solution enables fashion retailers to provide an omnichannel experience, combining offline experience with online experience. This is done through what we call the Zliide tag, which goes onto every piece of merchandise in the store. The tag operates like a standard security tag, but allows users to scan the tag with the Zliide app and gain access to a digital version of the item in the app. This can show videos and images of the item on a model or in motion, allowing shoppers to really envision themselves in the merchandise. The consumer can then pay for the item on their phone, using a mobile payment application. Once the item is paid for, the security tag unlocks, and the customer is able to leave the store with their purchase. Right now, our technology is only available in Denmark, but we are looking to expand to other Nordic countries and perhaps the U.K. in the next couple of years.
Why was the Zliide tag created?
The whole company started based on an experience I had in a Nike store in London. When I arrived in London, I used Airbnb and Uber, and everything was with one click. Then I went into a store and actually had to wait for someone to help me get rid of my money and make a purchase. I was really frustrated because over the last few years I had become accommodated to using numerous cool technologies with easy user experience and convenience across all different channels. This experience led me to start a company with a vision to always take the consumer's point of view first.
How is Zliide tag different from other security tags in fashion stores?
The basic purpose of a conventional tag is securing a piece of clothing. The conventional security tags business is great and meets a basic and much-needed functionality. We definitely believe tags have a place in the market indefinitely, but we also believe that if you already mount a piece of hardware onto every single item in a store, there is so much potential to build on top of the tag for data collection and a better consumer experience.
With our product, we enable customers to interact with every item in the store and access pictures and videos of everything they want, anywhere they want. It's all about freedom and convenience for the stores and the consumers, along with the possibilities of building a data collection for retailers. We allow communication with the end user's mobile device by introducing Bluetooth to the tag. We've done this in the Zliide tag version we are introducing to the market now with Silicon Labs' BGM220. Also, in recent years, we've seen a rise in RFID tags that allow resellers to do a limited inventory count with RFID scanners. With our solution, retailers have the added benefit of doing an immediate daily inventory count.
Why did you use Silicon Labs' solutions for the product?
We were introduced to Silicon Labs through Arrow and have been extremely impressed with the company's representatives, who introduced us to the BGM220 and its features.
All of the functionality we wanted was met in terms of security, battery lifetime and the possibility of over-the-air (OTA) updates, as it would be a big risk to not be able to easily update the software. On top of that, by using the module we were really able to minimize the size and the number of components on the PCB. Another important factor for us was to reduce cost of the device due to mass production - one fashion store can easily have 10,000 Zliide tags.
I would say one of the things that really made a difference for us was the superior level of support we have received from Silicon Labs. For us, it's really about the support and the commitment we've received to help a young company like ours to really thrive in a competitive world. Getting access to those valuable and knowledgeable resources to build a better product is really what made the whole difference for us.
Where do you see fashion retail IoT going in the next 5-8 years, how has COVID-19 affected the market?
From a technology perspective, we see a lot of technology evolving in the retail sector at the moment. Recently we've seen a lot of investments going into the back end of retail companies to optimize the supply chain. I believe if you have a big footprint of stores, you need to take those stores and elevate them to the next level with consumer-facing technology. I think we will see technology in the fashion retail industry still being a little bit behind some of the other retail outlets such as supermarkets, convenience stores, etc. The fashion industry has high-value items that they want to protect, whereas in convenience stores and supermarkets, there's basically no security there; you can just use a barcode scanner to speed up the customer experience. Our technology will be the fastest solution to allow self-checkout for more high-value items.
COVID-19 had a major impact on more than just revenue streams in these fashion retail companies, and collectively the industry has realized how vulnerable it is. When it comes to shutting down all your stores, you're losing 80-90% of the revenue from one day to another. I think it made retailers realize two things: For one, they need to do something different now. And two: they need to realize that digitalization is the only way to go. If COVID-19 restrictions go into effect again, retailers would still have access to users on the Zliide online platform with the ability to purchase something from their store. Even though stores would be physically closed, retailers could still ship out from the stores through this massive footprint.
In five years, we'll see a lot changing in the industry, and the ones who don't keep up with technological advancements will be the losing companies, no doubt about it.
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