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Decker's New UGG Australia Store Uses RFID to Promote Products, Engage Shoppers

The retailer installed four huge RFID-enabled touchscreens to allow customers to automatically view data about the shoes or boots they try on, by simply standing on a floor mat.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 25, 2014

Footwear, apparel and accessories company Deckers has adopted a radio frequency identification-based system to promote products at its new UGG Australia store in McLean, Va., near Washington, D.C. The 2,110-square-foot store, which opened this month at the Tysons Galleria, showcases its shoes and boots via RFID tags applied to the soles of the footwear, in order to allow shoppers to view content about a particular tagged item when trying it on near an RFID-enabled touchscreen. The solution was developed by Deckers in partnership with New York technology firm Control Group.

The system will eventually be launched at other Deckers stores as well, if the new UGG Australia store's technology is well received by customers. The project is part of a drive by Deckers to use technology to make its physical stores a more omni-channel experience.

At the new UGG Australia store, a shopper stands on an RFID-enabled floor mat, causing an RFID reader to capture the ID number of the boots she is trying on, and prompting the touchscreen to display product information.
Deckers launched its innovation lab at its headquarters in Goleta, Calif., in March of this year. There, the company has established a Brand Showcase Store for Deckers' brands, including UGG Australia, Teva, Sanuk and Hoka One One. At the store, Deckers not only showcases and sells its new products, but also tests new technologies and merchandizing approaches to improve omni-channel solutions. That has included some testing of RFID, says Dave Powers, Deckers' president of omni-channel.

The UGG Australia store in McLean features only UGG Australia products. Like the Goleta store, it serves as an innovation lab site and focuses on providing omni-channel, high-tech shopping for customers at that location. The RFID solution installed at the Virginia store draws from Decker's experience in employing RFID at the UGG store in California. It consists of four 65-inch high-definition touchscreens combined with EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID readers, which trigger the display of information about each shoe style, including color options, style tips, videos and suggestions for products that would complement the shoe.

Deckers' Dave Powers
The goal, Powers says, is to make the brick-and-mortar and ecommerce shopping experiences more seamless and connected.

At the Tysons Galleria store, an Impinj Speedway Revolution RFID reader is connected to the antenna built into the floor mat in front of each touchscreen. Staff members at the store attach RFID labels containing a Smartrac MiniWeb inlay to incoming footwear, and use a Zebra Technologies ZD500R RFID printer to encode those labels.

The labels are applied to the soles of footwear, says Charlie Miller, a Control Group associate partner, and the unique ID number encoded to each tag is linked to stock-keeping unit (SKU) data about that particular product, including its size, color and style. When an individual tries on a shoe or boot and steps on the RFID-enabled mat (the tag can be read within 1 or 2 feet of the reader), the reader captures that ID number and forwards it to the software provided by Control Group, residing on a dedicated server. The software then prompts the touchscreen to display content specific to that product.

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