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RFID Helps Target Transform Holiday Shopping Experience

Visitors to the retailer's Wonderland popup store in Manhattan receive RFID tokens that allow them to shop without a cart or basket and, instead, create a digital list of items they want to buy.
By Mark Roberti
Dec 14, 2015

Brick-and-mortar retailers have been struggling to find ways to compete with the convenience of online shopping. Target might have found a solution—one that leverages radio frequency identification technology.

Target has created a Target Wonderland pop-up store in New York City's Meatpacking district. A shopper entering the Wonderland area is given a token (with Target's red bull's-eye logo printed on it) containing an embedded passive high-frequency (HF) transponder, based on the ISO 14443 standard. NXP Semiconductors made the RFID chips in the transponders, which were provided by Vanguard ID Systems. Visitors can choose to register their token and associate the transponder's unique ID number with their social-media pages, though that is not required. No credit card or other personal information is stored on the tokens, which customers are welcome to keep.

Each shopper entering Target's Wonderland is given a token with an embedded passive HF RFID transponder.
Each of 16 products for sale at the pop-up store has an RFID reader installed next to it, developed by RFID Academia, an RFID solution provider based in Montreal. Each of those items is displayed on a fixture that sports a red Target bull's-eye positioned above the reader's antenna. As customers walk through Wonderland, they can tap their tokens to a bull's-eye to add that product, such as an Etch A Sketch or a Barbie doll, to a digital shopping cart. Wonderland also has a giant Etch A Sketch and interactive features, such as a selfie wall where customers can take a photo with a large display of Disney's Tsum Tsum stuffed toys. The token can be used to upload the pictures to the shopper's social-media page, as long as that individual registered the token upon receiving it.

Once a customer has finished shopping, he or she can take the token to a checkout counter, which is fitted with an Apple iPad and an RFID reader from RFID Academia. When the token is tapped near the reader, the iPad displays that person's digital shopping cart. Shoppers can delete items that they might have decided not to buy (or any that their children may have added without their knowledge) and then pay with a credit card or cash as they normally would.

A visitor can choose to register his or her token and associate the transponder's unique ID with that individual's social-media pages.
"We concepted Target Wonderland for several months, with the goal of having it come to life in a fun and engaging way," says Jenna Reck, a spokesperson for Target. "There were two equally important elements that we considered. We wanted the space to feature beautiful and inspiring visual merchandising, and we wanted to use technology that would make it easy and seamless for our guests to shop."

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