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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
The touch-screen terminal is equipped with an RFID reader that captures the unique ID number of the product's tag. That number is linked to product information displayed on the screen. The content—including product features, instructions on using the product, and a link to reserve a consultation appointment with a store employee—is displayed on the screen, provided by iStyle Inc. The trial also includes a kiosk with a camera, display and RFID tag reader so a customer can view herself on the display and sample "virtual real-time makeup" to see how a specific lipstick, eye shadow or other cosmetic product would look on her face.

Shiseido has attached RFID tags to lipstick, mascara and other makeup products in stands holding tester containers. The tester stands, provided by Central Engineering Co., are embedded with RFID readers designed to capture a read every time a customer tests a makeup item, thereby counting how often the product is sampled. That information can then be used for marketing purposes.

The firm is also testing RFID tags for use in customers' homes.

Sales staff at each cosmetic counter will use tablet PCs embedded with tag readers to track that counter's customer history. The tablet PC contains the profiles and purchasing history information of registered customers, Ishida says. "Displaying the purchasing history on the screen will enable the customer and salesperson to see details regarding which products the customer purchased, and when, without needing to rely on memory," says Ishida. Fifty customers are participating in the trial.

In a separate portion of the trial, Shiseido is attaching RFID tags to products at its distribution centers in Fukaya City and Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo, for in-store inventory. The firm is also testing RFID tags for use in customers' homes. Shiseido has created several virtual home environments for the trial—a laboratory setting designed like a consumer's home—with PCs and tag readers installed. "In the future, some customers who do not have time to view product information in-store may prefer to view such information at home," Ishida says. "Yes, it is anticipated that some customers may wish to have a tag reader at home." Those readers could be purchased or rented, Ishida adds, though details have not yet been determined.

In the future, Mitsukoshi and Shiseido may decide to undertake other trials to evaluate the use of RFID tags in the supply chain management of cosmetics, as well as the impact on purchase intent when customers themselves handle RFID-tagged products, and the effect on purchasing related products.

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