April 19th, 2016

Hong Kong company ready to sell interactive mirrors aimed at boosting shops’ sales

A Hong Kong-based company developing interactive mirrors for the retail and hospitality industries is set to launch its products after successful pilots in the city and Japan.
Originally founded in 2013 in Italy, actiMirror uses apps installed on its connected smart mirrors to profile customers which — when combined with radio frequency identification technology (RFID) tags on products — can suggest related items to boost shop sales.
“The main challenges both in retail and hospitality that we keep finding are how to collect and analyse customer data to grow sales,” said Victor Ruiz-Sanchez, the company’s chief executive officer. “Retailers are really struggling to make the figures that they did last year. They have a severely reduced number of sales.”
When a customer approaches an actiMirror , 25 facial features are analysed to give a person’s age, gender, mood and ethnicity to provide a tailored advert or selection of products, Ruiz-Sanchez said.
As shoppers increasingly buy online, brick and mortar retailers are looking for more ways to use technology such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices like Bluetooth beacons to engage with shoppers, learn about customers and to sell more.
Retailers are really struggling to make the figures that they did last year. They have a severely reduced number of sales
Victor Ruiz-Sanchez, actiMirror CEO
A global survey by KPMG released in 2015 found 20 per cent of 768 global industry leaders predicted the adoption of IoT devices would have the greatest monetisation potential in retail.
Ruiz said the company located to Hong Kong to be close to manufacturers in the Pearl River Delta as well as for the city’s strong intellectual property protections and low taxes. It was among the first 11 companies in Swire Properties’ Blueprint accelerator programme in January last year.
After conducting testing with companies including Swire and Li and Fung, Ruiz-Sanchez said the start-up is now ready to install actiMirror devices through distributors in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
The mirrors allow retailers or restaurants and hotels to legally collect customer data when users scan a QR code and enter their details to download a picture or video taken through the device.
One of the company’s full-length selfie mirrors is installed in Swire’s Mr and Mrs Fox restaurant in Quarry Bay. It collected the contact details of 27 customers in one night, compared with 50 details shared manually in the preceding five months.
No personal data is shared without a user’s permission and the actiMirror does not store images or videos taken with the device, Ruiz-Sanchez said.
Companies using the mirrors receive regular reports on customer demographics and conversion rates from the anonymised data collected.
The mirrors, which start at US$2,000 can also be installed in areas such as lifts to play adverts to a targeted demographic, from watches for men in their 40s to anti-wrinkle creams to women in their 60s.
For each advert viewed, the hotel or building where the actiMirror is installed receives a payment from the advertised brand, Ruiz explained.
While originally targeting the retail and hospital industries, Ruiz-Sanchez said the company has also received interest from the health care and exhibition sectors.
The start-up is now seeking to raise a post-seed funding round of US$3 million to support product development.