ATLANTA (FNS) — Bali’s “Solution Center” takes the confusion out of shopping for women’s intimate apparel, according to the company, which has put several of the so-named interactive kiosks in department stores.
Not only that, the kiosks, produced by Raleigh, N.C.-based InteractiVisions for Sara Lee Intimates, also enhance retail sales.
Speaking at the American Apparel Manufacturers Association’s Apparel Research Conference in November at the Hyatt Regency hotel here, Bill Gross, senior director of administration services and national accounts, said Bali’s first placement of the Solution Center in a store — at a Hecht’s store in Cary, N.C., about a year ago — produced a 66 percent sales increase of Bali bras in that store over the prior year. This was at a time when the retail chain was running a total sales increase of nine percent.
Bali, which is a division of Sara Lee Intimates, has since placed the kiosks in a Belk’s store in Charlotte, N.C., and in two Broadway stores in California, Gross said. Bali also has presented the technology to other major retailers, including Sears. Sears already has had success with Florsheim Shoes kiosks in some of its stores, and now is interested in the Bali kiosks, Gross said.
The easy-to-use kiosks combine television, video, touchscreen, computer and laser technology. A woman shopping for a bra need only activate it by touching the screen, which is projecting attractive pictures of women in Bali bras before activated. Soft, unobtrusive music plays in the background, and a woman’s voice provides information.
When the program is activated, the screen offers a menu of choices, including the “Help me choose a bra” feature. The customer is asked to input her size and to select specific features and fabrications she wants, at which point the screen displays up to six styles per screen (touching an arrow will bring up subsequent screens). By touching one of the pictures of the styles, she will learn more details about the style she’s selected through an audio recording, including colors and sizes available and prices. Customers also are informed when there are coordinating items in the Bali line for a product they’ve selected, which can further enhance sales.
Another selection on the main menu tells the customer how to measure for a proper fit. Gross said that most women do not know how to do this. Other information addresses specific fitting problems. Bali Solution Center also tracks consumer information. Bali has learned through the center at the Belk’s store that customers there are most interested in the guide to a perfect fit and in how to measure, followed by problem-solving advice.
Finally, the customer can print out the information and take it to a sales associate for assistance. The data base, Gross said, has about 3,500 SKUs.
Bali’s research found that 86 percent of women shopping for bras in the stores with the Solution Center are using the kiosk. And, just in case, the store doesn’t have the bra the customer wants, she can order it for home delivery. She also can pay for the product directly through the kiosk, which receives credit card information through a slot for that purpose.
If shoppers have any questions, they can call a Bali service representative at 1-800-BALI-USA.
The Solution Center doesn’t take up much space, Gross said. It stands about six and a half feet high with the video screen at eye level, and is 28 inches wide. Technical requirements at the store are that a dedicated telephone line be located at the unit and that it have a constant power-on source. The kiosk should have a forward placement in the department to maximize the impact of the audio and visual features. Bali also suggests that its products should flank the unit and line the aisle all the way to the cash register.
“Consumer behavior is changing,” said Gross. “We see this as a very powerful tool for the consumer, the vendor and the retailer.” He added that Bali and its retail customers currently are sharing profits down the middle on consumer sales.
When asked whether Bali was using the Solution Center for forecasting, Gross replied that the company is not now, but it is tracking velocity of the SKUs. “We’re managing the inventory, but we’re also trying to help organize the entire department,” he said.
Stan Eskridge Jr., president of InteractiVisions, Raleigh, N.C., said he also is developing interactive kiosks with L’Eggs and Hanes at Sara Lee, and is currently talking with other apparel companies about selling their products through interactive kiosks. The L’Eggs interactive kiosk is finished and will be field tested soon. The Hanes kiosk will be ready for retail testing in March 1996.
InteractiVisions also has kiosks in several Disney stores used for destination travel information. These are in London, Paris, Frankfurt and the Delta terminal in Cincinnati and are going into Disney stores in Chicago.

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