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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

The team working on the project was familiar with RFID because Target already employs the technology for inventory management at its other stores. A short-range HF system, the group decided, would work for both the social-media and transactional aspects of Wonderland. Target engaged an agency that specializes in event design, planning and production. That company contacted RFID Academia, which has carried out numerous event- and social-media-oriented RFID deployments (for the past few years, in fact, it has set up the photo kiosks at RFID Journal LIVE!).

The Target Wonderland pop-up store will be open through Dec. 22 (Monday to Saturday from 10 am 8 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm). It has received quite a bit of publicity, including a segment on Good Morning America and an article on Fortune's website.

Each product for sale is displayed on a fixture sporting a red bull's-eye positioned above the reader's antenna. Customers can tap their token to a bull's-eye to add a particular item to their digital shopping cart. (Click here for a larger version.)
According to Reck, Target is testing other concepts in other parts of the United States, such as Target Open House in San Francisco and Target Too in Miami. The goal is to understand how consumers use RFID technology in stores and how to create future retail experiences.

"Target is testing a lot of different concepts across the country and looking at implications for how they could be brought to scale," Reck explains. "Right now, with Target Wonderland, the goal is to learn how different technologies and concepts can be used to build retail experiences of the future. The reaction so far to Target Wonderland has been great. It's the balance of a fun experience and the ease of the digital transactions that people are really responding to."

A shopper can take a photo in front of a selfie wall filled with Disney's Tsum Tsum stuffed toys, and upload that image to his or her social-media page, as long as that individual registered his or her token upon receiving it. (Click here for a larger version.)

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