L.L.Bean Turns on In-Store Video with RFID

Discussion
Feb 09, 2011
George Anderson

L.L.Bean is testing a new system that uses radio frequency
identification technology to determine when a shopper handles a specific product
and then triggers a nearby video screen with information about the item, according
to RFID
Journal
.

A number of retailers are installing the system, known as InMotion
Retail Marketing developed by Pittsfield ID Technologies, including an unnamed
large consumer electronics retailer that plans a 300 store deployment.

The goal
of the system is not to change anything about the way consumers shop the store.

The
L.L.Bean store in Freeport, ME testing the technology deployed multiple antennas
on a 12 by 10 display wall of men’s hiking boots. About 30 pairs of shoes were
tagged and the wall included a video screen connected to a server with digital
ads, graphics and information about the individual boots, according to RFID
Journal
.

The system will track movement data to determine how many times
a particular boot was picked up and the length of time shoppers held it. This
information will give L.L.Bean a better understanding of consumer interest
in a given product. The retailer will also be able to develop a correlation
between media plays and actual purchases.

Discussion Questions: What do you think about systems that use RFID to link products to promotional videos and other information? What do you see as the opportunities and challenges around the technology as it is being deployed by L.L.Bean?

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11 Comments on "L.L.Bean Turns on In-Store Video with RFID"


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Dick Seesel
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

Overall, this is a terrific application of technology that has largely been conceived as an inventory tracking tool instead of helping to drive sales. And it takes the concept of digital signage to a completely different level. But one caution to L.L.Bean and other retailers testing this idea: Make sure that you avoid being overly intrusive or creating a “Big Brother” effect.

Dan Frechtling
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

There are two valuable streams of data that this deployment seems to offer: (1) input to make content on in-store screens more relevant, and (2) information on consumer interest in particular products. The first is the focus of the article but the second is an important additional byproduct.

Any source of shopper behavior that makes in-store digital signage more relevant gets retailers past the broadcast mentality of conventional deployments and adds value to the shopper experience. Taking the next step, correlating the plays to purchases, provides further valuable feedback to management.

But the breakthrough really comes when that data stream is used not just to measure in hindsight, but to optimize what’s ahead. The most successful in-store digital media programs learn–while campaigns run–which content yields the highest sales. These technologies then make adjustments–while campaigns run–to the programming. Today these systems are already improving sales by modifying play schedules by product, message, time and place.

Triggers like RFID, facial recognition, and the like make the programming better, but dynamic optimization results in programming at its best.

Ben Ball
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

Retailers’ and researchers’ major interest in this technology may well be the data generated–but the opportunity to offer “on demand” information about the specific product I have demonstrated interest in is huge–particularly for high involvement or technical purchases like hiking boots and sporting equipment. Who needs to flip out the smart phone and scan a bar code (potentially getting competitive pop-ups in the process) to get product information if it is already running right in front of me. This application has major merchandising potential.

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
10 years 2 months ago

This is an amazing bit of technology and consistent with life imitating art. While a great addition to the stores sales team and a means by which customers can gain information about the product without feeling pressure to purchase, it can also prove to be an annoyance that actually drives some shoppers away from the product and display.

I also see some potential problems. When I am personally shopping for boots, I often pick up a large number of boots to take a closer look and feel. If the system, as it appears, is forced to run through an entire video before it moves on in the queue to the next item, the customer may not hang around long enough to watch the video of the item he/she is really interested in. Secondly, if there are multiple customers present, which is highly likely, the queue process doesn’t really work very well and videos playing may not be of the product that he/she is interested in.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

I smell trouble. Strongly recommend signage indicating what the camera is doing. It just feels intrusive otherwise.

Max Goldberg
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

Some consumers might find this interesting, but I think many will find it to be creepy…too much like Big Brother. If not handled well, this could cause strong negative reactions towards a trusted retailer.

Anne Howe
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

This application of RFID has great potential for retailers. As a shopper, I’m glad to have the helpful information on products with a more complex decision process. But I think I want to have the trigger control. I’m not sure that when the information pops-up in my face that I won’t feel ‘watched’ in a creepy sort of way. I agree with Paula that signage that gives a little transparency message is a good idea.

I love the innovation here, however. I hope the retailer is willing to share the learning it gets from this effort.

Michael Tesler
Guest
Michael Tesler
10 years 2 months ago

This is “where it’s at.” Instead of ‘intrusive” salespeople forcing information on people using antiquated selling techniques, consumers can choose what information they want and stay in control of their time and space. Plus, in many stores the information is likely to be more accurate and trusted than verbally transmitted information though I should note here that L.L.Bean gets high marks in all aspects of customer service and is very highly trusted (according to yearly surveys more than most all retailers) to begin with.

Larry Negrich
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

To reduce the potential creepiness factor of this the display could be set up to give the customer the ability to wave the RFID-implanted shoe in front of a device to play a video with more product information. This active method could reduce the passive, big brother feeling of the video playing every time a shoe is moved.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
10 years 2 months ago

The implication is that we are rapidly moving into a world where virtually ALL meaningful consumer insights will be gleaned at the shopper level in store. RFID is only one technology that’s driving this. Location-based services, near field communication, Wi-Fi networks, facial recognition equipped signage and other technologies will soon make it possible to aggregate the paths to purchase of masses of consumers in a way never before possible. And we haven’t even mainstreamed mobile payment yet…just wait.

As I mention in a new article my belief is that this micro-view of how consumers actually behave will have significant implications on marketing and consumer research practices.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
10 years 2 months ago

I think this could be a very useful approach–the good- to-know info that can pop up may help the shopper decide. As a positive, the shopper may feel they can learn what they need and move on–or engage more directly with staff as a choice, a good thing for busy, focused shoppers. Well executed, this RFID application can definitely increase shopper ease and interest.

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