BALI GOES HIGH TECH TO TALK TO BRA BUYERS
Byline: Georgia Lee
ATLANTA — Bali Co. is banking on a high tech solution to simplify the process of buying a bra.
In partnership with InteractiVisions, a Raleigh, N.C., company, Bali has developed an electronic kiosk that brings interactive television technology to intimate apparel departments. InteractiVisions has used Bell Laboratories technology to develop similar information kiosks at Disney World.
With the Bali Solution Center, consumers touch a video screen to access eight information videos, such as a guide to perfect fit, measuring techniques and solutions to specific problems. In addition, the kiosk contains an entire Bali catalog that includes 3,500 sku’s.
Customers can select a product from in-store stock or order directly from the kiosk by swiping a credit card through the system. Retailers share in profits from orders directly to Bali.
“We know that consumers are thirsting for information and that they’re intimidated by a sea of bras,” said Michael Gannaway, senior vice president, general manager, department and specialty store group for Bali, who’s based in Winston-Salem, N.C. “We gave ourselves the challenge of finding a solution to these fundamental problems.”
The solution center was tested for several weeks this fall and winter in two Broadway stores in Los Angeles and The Emporium in San Francisco, as well as a Belk’s location in Raleigh. After testing in several more stores, Gannaway said, Bali — a division of Sara Lee Intimates — will roll out up to 200 units by this fall.
“Retailers can satisfy customers’ needs for hard-to-find sizes and styles, without actually carrying inventory,” said Gannaway. “It also allows us to test new products and concepts.”
Bali’s sales at test stores have been “significantly higher” than at a control group of stores, said Gannaway, although twice as many viewers have used the information section than those who have actually purchased a bra through the system. Gannaway said customers may yet be reluctant to release credit card information to a kiosk.
“We need to get a better understanding of who’s using it,” said Gannaway. “Our top sellers through the kiosk are not the top sellers in our total brand. We’re led to believe that younger people who are more comfortable with technology may be the main users.”
Bali wants to beef up the presentation, adding more entertainment value and options for the consumer. The company plans to add the Wonderbra — part of the Bali operation — to the system, and put national advertising behind it this fall.
The same technology will soon be tested by Sara Lee Corp.’s hosiery divisions, including Hanes and L’eggs, said Gannaway.