RFID goes to the dogs
In perhaps another example of animal testing before human trial, Bark & Co, the company behind the BarkBox subscription service, tapped RFID technology to help dogs shop for themselves.
At a “pup-up” store opened from June 6 to 12 in lower Manhattan, dogs were able to play with unwrapped toys in an open environment. As each dog played, a high tech vest talked with RFID tags in all the toys and a mobile app on the smartphone of the dog’s owner, allowing the owner to see which treats and toys their dog was most interested in. The app also shared a recap of playtime for later viewing. The owner could then buy their dog’s favorite items, which would be shipped directly to their home.
“We made this investment as an experiment to see if there’s a way for dogs to do their shopping instead of humans,” said Matt Meeker, CEO and co-founder at Bark & Co., told Digiday. Providing a memorable experience for owners was also a priority.
The pop-up came in the same week Bark & Co. — which is aiming to become “Disney for dogs” through e-commerce, products, events and publishing — announced $60 million in new funding. Its monthly box of treats and toys has shipped more than 25 million products since launching in 2012.
The BarkShop retail experience was invitation-only and cost $30, which could be applied to any purchases. The store allowed five dogs in at a time.
Bark & Co. may explore other BarkShop pop-ups, as well as permanent stores and in-store shops inside brick & mortar partners. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Meeker said the idea was to create a store from a “dog’s-eye view” that’s “engaging, unusual and fun.”
- Introducing BarkShop Live: The World’s First Retail Experience Where Dogs Do The Shopping – Bark & Co.
- Bark & Co Raises $60 Million in New Funding Round – Bark & Co.
- Bark & Co. Raises $60M, Sets Sights on Global Brand For Dogs – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Inside BarkShop Live, a pop-up shop for your pet pooch to peruse – Digiday
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does RFID hold the potential to transform pet shopping? Do you see any ways to extend the RFID-applications utilized in BarkShop to assist human purchases?