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Mitsukoshi and Shiseido Test Tagged Cosmetics

The trial involves the RFID-tagging of individual products so customers can obtain details about each product and try on virtual makeup. It also provides statistics on how often items are sampled.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 31, 2007Japanese department store chain Mitsukoshi is undertaking a pilot embedding RFID tags on Shiseido cosmetics to create what the companies call the "department store of the future." The project began on Jan. 26 and will end on Feb. 12, and involves the tagging of a limited number of cosmetic products. During the pilot, customers will be able to discern details about products by holding them up to an interactive screen with an RFID reader. The in-store RFID trial is intended to test whether the system can provide an "electronic concierge" enabling customers to find information about a product without asking a sales clerk. If the system works, it will allow faster service for customers and offer the store and Shiseido greater information about how customers sample products.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan (METI) is sponsoring the project, which METI's Japan Department Stores Association is overseeing as part of its 2007 Field Trial for Improving Distribution and Logistics Efficiency Through the Use of Electronic Tags. This is not a first for Misukoshi, however, which has undertaken other item-level RFID trials at it stores.

A customer wishing to sample or learn more about a product removes the item from the display and waves it near an RFID tag reader.

"Since two years ago, Mitsukoshi and the Department Stores Association were already doing this type of field trial, and they decided to bring this to the cosmetic floor," says Mari Hayashi, Shiseido's public relations representative. "Then they asked us to collaborate on this."

Designed by Fujitsu, the system is being tested at two locations: the Shiseido cosmetics counter at the Ginza shopping district store in Tokyo, and the Skakae branch in downtown Nagoya. Fujitsu is also providing hardware for the project, including touch-screen terminals, kiosks and integration services.

Shiseido is affixing 13.56 MHz RFID tags provided by Toppan Printing, with NXP Semiconductors' Icode SLI Label IC chips, to seven of its skincare product samples. If a customer wishes to sample or learn more about a product, she removes the item from the display and waves it near an RFID reader, explains Amy Ishida, Fujitsu's Tokyo director of public and investor relations.

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