Disney Gets It

The entertainment giant is investing in upgrading its stores, and RFID will be part of improving the customer experience.
Published: October 13, 2009

As I sipped my morning coffee and scanned the front page of The New York Times, my heart leapt and I had the sudden urge to yell out, “Disney gets it! Disney gets it!”

I didn’t do so, out of fear that my sons might have me committed, but the article, entitled “Disney’s Retail Plan Is a Theme Park in Its Stores,” shows that some retailers understand that now is the time to invest in retail technologies, including radio frequency identification.

The article explains how Disney plans to spend upwards of $1 million on each of its stores to make them more interactive, more fun and more likely to draw shoppers when the economy picks up. The story doesn’t mention RFID specifically, but in a paragraph on the front page, it clearly refers to an RFID application: “Theaters will allow children to watch film clips of their own selection, participate in karaoke contests or chat live with Disney Channel stars via satellite. Computer chips embedded in packaging will activate hidden features. Walk by a ‘magic mirror’ while holding a princess tiara, for instance, and Cinderella might appear and say something to you.

Also inspiring is this passage: “Some Disney board members fretted that the concept was so lavish that parents would try to use the stores as day-care centers. Others worried that people would come for the entertainment but not buy anything. ‘It’s time to take risks,’ Mr. Fielding [Jim Fielding, president of Disney Stores Worldwide] said he told them. ‘When consumers are ready to spend again, we will be ready.'”

Clearly, Disney is a forward-looking company. I don’t know if the firm plans to employ RFID to manage inventory, but imagine a store at which RFID is used to ensure that items are replenished properly, as well as to entertain and enchant customers. Maybe Disney will show others what the future of retailing is all about.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark’s opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog or click here.