Target’s big holiday pop-up promotes toys and tests tech
Target has already shown that it’s aiming for big sales during the holiday season with its multi-platform, multi-property "Holiday Odyssey" advertising campaign. Further proof of its holiday season investment is the chain’s "retail spectacle" named Target Wonderland.
Target Wonderland is a 16,000-square-foot pop-up next to Chelsea Market in Manhattan. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the pop-up features 10 interactive holiday-themed displays, each with a digital element and each tied to a toy that the chain is selling for the holidays. The Wonderland is open to the public for two weeks.
There is a great deal of crossover between the "Holiday Odyssey" campaign and what is reportedly available to interact with at the pop-up. There is, for instance, a ball-pit moat around a life-sized replica of the Lego pirate ship featured in Target’s second holiday commercial. Visitors can also test drive a smartphone app-controlled version of the BB-8 droid seen in the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, along with drones and miniature cars on a racetrack.
A promotional video, which shows the Wonderland’s opening, features two kids interviewing Neil Patrick-Harris, narrator of Target’s "Holiday Odyssey" interactive e-book. The e-book is the centerpiece of Target’s holiday campaign.
The chain intends to use the Wonderland as a testing ground for tech innovations to see if they have the potential to be rolled out in stores nationwide.
One of the more interesting innovations in play at the Wonderland is the use of RFID technology.
The Tribune article reports that those who enter the Wonderland are given lanyards with RFID chips attached to them to wear around their necks. A visitor can then scan the code at each kiosk to queue an item for purchase. Upon arriving at checkout at the end of the experience, the visitor pays for the items and is given them by a Santa arm that emerges from a chimney. (The article does not specify if the Santa arm is real or animatronic.)
This is not the retailer’s first experiment with RFID.
In an interview on the Target website in May, 2015, Keri Jones, executive vice president of global supply chain and operations at Target, discussed implementing RFID technology in Target stores. She described the use of RFID-enabled "smart tags" on items to help manage inventory. The technology gives Target and its customers a clearer picture of what is in-stock throughout stores and online.
Target expects to have that particular RFID feature rolled out in all store in 2016.
- Target opens a holiday-themed playground to sell toys and test ideas in New York – Minneapolis Star Tribune (tiered sub.)
- Welcome to Target Wonderland: Part Toy Store, Part Holiday Playground—All Fun – YouTube
- Will digital promotions make Target’s Christmas? – RetailWire
- RFID: New Tag Technology Will Elevate Target’s Guest Experience – Target
What benefits could Target’s nationwide customers eventually see from a one-off “retail spectacle” like the Wonderland? What sort of insights might Target gain into its use of RFID technology in the Wonderland that are applicable on a national level?
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8 Comments on "Target’s big holiday pop-up promotes toys and tests tech"
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Is the pop-up store more for testing RFID technology or for burnishing Target’s brand? I say the latter. Target needs to address its chronic out-of-stock situation, but simply putting RFID tags on products won’t do that. The problem is too deeply layered within the organization.
The pop-up will, however, get consumers talking about Target, and it reinforces Target’s core story of being a different, chic mass retailer.
The expanded use of RFID at retail is going to enable the further expansion of the “shop-and-shop” trend. This concept will fuel the transformation and revitalization of brick-and-mortar retail. Retail has for many years been a consignment business. Products that don’t sell will, in some form or another, be returned to the manufacturer. If that manufacturer wants to continue to do business with that particular retailer they will accept those returns regardless of any contractual agreements.
RFID will enable brand manufacturers to conduct an all-consignment business while at the same time having direct visibility on inventory on a daily basis. This will allow manufacturers to take control of inventory and prevent stockouts. RFID will also identify specific products that are responsible for shrink numbers. This will provide accurate insight for security monitoring and identification.
RFID will also open the opportunities for better customer service and recommendations for accessories and fashion sense. Think Garanimals for adults.
That sounds remarkably like the Dreamworks DreamPlace houses that are up in eight U.S. malls. And that’s a good thing. The impact of the experiential approach is remarkable — especially on kids.
As for the applications of the RFID and other technical aspects, can you imagine a virtual store where you make your selections with an RFID or BlueTooth enabled fob, then just walk by the “checkout” scanner to pay and your merchandise is waiting at the pickup station outside near your car?
See Santa’s disembodied arm deliver a package from the chimney at 4:40 in this video.
I think it’s a real arm, so I’m not sure if staff doing things like this can work at scale if Target wants to expand experiences like this. But of course animatronic technology is getting better and cheaper so maybe we’ll see experiences like this more widespread in the future.
A 16,000 square foot pop-up shop alongside Chelsea Market. Sounds breathtakingly expensive. I suppose it might be the price to pay to learn about RFID applications. A done deal before Cornell came on board?
Why bother with Manhattan? Doesn’t seem to me that Macy’s Herald Square informs much that is relevant across the balance of its chain. (It’s looking to right-size all its legacy city center behemoths.) And Target is a discounter operating at thinner margins and lower price points. A distraction in a market far, far away at a time it needs to drive a profitable holiday to cover the Canadian misadventure.
That said, built-in otherworldly foot traffic that ensures plenty of shopper engagement. Certainly will put shrink protocols to test. And branding top-spin, a return to Tarzhay.
As Santa said as he donned his BIG elf pants, “retail ain’t for sissies!”
I absolutely love this concept but — as always — it’s only in NY. Boo! Target is on to something with this and I do hope they will start rolling out the concept to other stores.
This could be the boost in childrens traffic they have been looking for.
And that’s my 2 cents.
The RFID test run here is a step in the right direction towards one day having a mobile checkout with your phone.
It will drive nice brand awareness especially in the traditional New York market. RFID technology is interesting; without more details I am not sure what the mass scalability of that would be. It is a good way to get traffic pattern observations on how the shopper moved around the store, though.