Wi-fi technology boost for Mansfield town centre

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THE ‘next generation’ of retail technology is coming to Mansfield after the town secured funding for one of the UK’s largest free public wi-fi hotspots.

A total of £37,000 has now been raised for the project which could see virtual mirrors for shoppers to try clothes on and make purchases when shops are closed, card payments at market stalls and interactive advertising displays.

It is hoped the free Internet access will encourage shoppers to spend more time and money in the town centre.

Chad previously reported how £10,000 for the project was secured following the town’s unsuccessful bid to be part of Mary Portas’ high street pilot scheme.

A number of businesses and individuals have contributed to the fund along with a £1,221 grant from Mansfield District Council.

Now the Cardinal Group, providers of next-generation technology and security solutions, has donated £20,000 and will look to showcase its unique online retail tools.

The initiative, launched and driven by the Mansfield Improvement District (BID), could see wi-fi equipment installed early in the new year and accessible by spring.

Sarah Nelson, Mansfield BID (Business Improvement District) manager, said: “This is fantastic news for shoppers, visitors and businesses alike and helps to put Mansfield on the technological map.

“We’re grateful to everyone who has backed the campaign and made it a real success story to be proud of.

“It will help Mansfield to attract investors and enable businesses large and small to use new technology to stay ahead of the competition.

“Stallholders, for example, could take card payments and shoppers would be able to browse the Internet and stay a while longer.”

Jason Trigg, founder and chief executive at Cambridge-based Cardinal Group, said: “This is a really exciting project for Mansfield, which has the opportunity to lead the way not only in free wi-fi access but to be highlighted as the town where next-generation retail technology is installed to transform the high street. Cardinal is thrilled to be involved.”

Web and e-commerce specialist Dave Hartshorne, whose company Dijitul.com is based within the BID area, said: “Internet is the way of the future and anything that helps business and customers connect, while helping to regenerate the town centre, has to be welcomed.”

For more information visit www.mansfieldbid.com or The Cardinal Group website www.thecardinalgroup.co.uk.

THE Cardinal Group, which has donated £20,000 to Mansfield’s wi-fi scheme, will showcase its next-generation retail technology once the equipment is installed.

Its Store of the Future technology (SOTF) is a ‘platform’ which brings together the online and offline shopping experience.

‘Virtual mirrors’ will enable customers to try clothes on without even visiting the changing rooms.

The ‘mirror’ is a sophisticated computer screen with built-in sensors and cameras.

When shoppers stand in front of the machine it scans their body to determine what size garment is required then allows them to browse through the store’s clothing range. Once an item is selected, the clothing is superimposed on top of the reflection.

John Lewis in London’s Oxford Street has already trialled the technology.