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IKEA Canada Engages Customers With RFID at Pop-up Store

RFID tags in wooden spoons and readers at the shelves and check-out stations allowed shoppers to select and purchase items, simply by tapping their spoon.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 11, 2016

IKEA Canada has completed a two-week trial of a solution that enabled shoppers to purchase merchandise with the tap of a spoon, thanks to radio frequency identification technology. The system, deployed in a pop-up store in late May 2016, freed shoppers from having to push carts or carry baskets around the store. Instead, they simply carried a wooden spoon with a built-in RFID tag, and made their purchases by tapping the spoon against shelf readers.

The temporary store's marketing goal was to take the routine out of food and houseware shopping, and to encourage consumers to think beyond their usual products and buying habits. To achieve that goal, the store, which focused on two of IKEA's product lines (food and tableware), broke the conventional rules about how food is prepared and served, by offering unique growing, preparing and serving ideas for fresh food, along with products that included jams, seeds, pottery, glasses and other kitchenware.

At the store's entrance, shoppers are invited to take an RFID-tagged wooden spoon and use it to add desired products to a virtual shopping cart.
"We wanted to create an experience to help support our global theme: 'It Starts With the Food,'" says Stephanie Kerr, IKEA's corporate press officer. "We thought a pop-up store would be an impactful way to bring this theme to life with consumers."

Each room within the pop-up store was designed to challenge consumers to re-think food conventions, break from traditions and try new things. For example, the company didn't want shoppers to have to use a clunky basket or shopping cart. That's where RFID technology came in.

"We wanted to make this pop-up experience different from a typical store experience," Kerr explains. "Using RFID technology allowed consumers to explore and shop in a whole new way, which made the experience more interactive."

During the two weeks in late May in which the store was open, buyers used a passive, low-frequency (LF) RFID-enabled wooden spoon to create a virtual shopping cart. Instead of taking products off a shelf and carrying them to the checkout counter, customers could simply collect a digital shopping list of all items they wanted to buy, and then make that purchase, all with the use of the wooden spoon.

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