BrainTrust Query: Polo’s e-commerce store windows…innovation or a strategic misfire?
The industry is buzzing with the news that a NYC Polo Ralph Lauren store is now featuring “payment at the glass.” Shoppers can browse and order merchandise 24/7 by touching product images on the store’s display window and swiping their credit card on a wall mounted card reader. To enable this, a projector beams Ralph Lauren’s latest shirts, skirts and pants onto holographic screens on the store’s window, while a “thin touch foil” mounted on the glass powers the touch screen. Shoppers can select size and color with motion selection, and a keyboard appears to punch in delivery addresses.
Inspired by the movie “Minority Report,” the window shopping display is in test from August 7th until September 10th. It is in support of a US Open promotion that will be supplemented by a virtual store on site at the Arthur Ashe stadium. The stadium will also have three free standing kiosks with touch screen technology throughout.
A Levi’s store in London initiated a similar project back in 1998, but the goals were to attract attention, motivate fun interaction and lure shoppers into the store to shop. It featured a selection of interactive toys that included sound mixers and simple drum machines that mimicked the popular Drum Mania and Dance Dance Revolution arcade games. The interface was triggered by simple actions such as slapping the bulletproof glass and became quite popular at their flagship store on Regent Street.
Discussion Question: Will shoppers take Polo’s e-commerce store windows seriously, or is this technology best suited for educational and promotional
Kudos to Ralph Lauren for testing a new, innovative technology with the goal of understanding consumer response for future learnings. Also worthy of merit
is the way the promotion extends into the actual US Open event facility, a true example of initiating a “multiple touchpoint strategy.”
However, I must question if the initial test would have been more successful if it was built as a fun attraction mechanism for generating store traffic.
The reality of consumers standing on a crowded street to shop via a clumsy ecommerce process is suspect. Why would one choose this over walking in the store to touch, feel and
try on the product for immediate purchase or going online to buy in privacy? I may be missing something, but my experience with consumer research tells me that this is a cumbersome
process that may be a “cure for no disease.”
In contrast, as a good industry friend pointed out, maybe the point wasn’t to test consumer behavior but to create brand buzz. Clearly, the media value
has been stellar and one cannot argue that the market perception of Ralph Lauren may have shifted somewhat.