Walgreens and other retailers replaced some fridge and freezer doors with iPad-like screens, reports CNN. “And some shoppers absolutely hate it.”
The screens, which were developed by the startup Cooler Screens, use a system of motion sensors and cameras to display what’s inside the doors — as well as product information, prices, deals and, most appealing to brands, paid advertisements. The tech provides stores with an additional revenue stream and a way to modernize the shopping experience. But for customers who just want to peek into the freezer and grab their ice cream, Walgreens risks angering them by solving a problem that shoppers didn’t know existed. The company wants to engage more people with advertising, but the reaction, so far, is annoyance and confusion.
“Why would Walgreens do this?” one befuddled shopper who encountered the screens posted on TikTok. “Who on God’s green earth thought this was a good idea?”
“The digital cooler screens at Walgreens made me watch an ad before it allowed me to know which door held the frozen pizzas,” said someone on Twitter….
Walgreens began testing the screens in 2018 and has since expanded the pilot to a couple thousand locations nationwide. Several other major retailers are launching their own tests with Cooler Screens, including Kroger, CVS, GetGo convenience stores and Chevron gas stations. “I hope that we will one day be able to expand across all parts of the store,” said Cooler Screens co-founder and CEO Arsen Avakian in an interview with CNN Business. Currently the startup has about 10,000 screens in stores, which are viewed by approximately 90 million consumers monthly, according to the company….
Politifact last month debunked a viral Facebook video that claimed “Walgreens refrigerators are scanning shoppers’ hands and foreheads for ‘the mark of the beast.'”
Avakian insists the tech is “identity-blind” and protects consumers’ privacy. The freezers have front-facing sensors used to anonymously track shoppers interacting with the platform, while internally facing cameras track product inventory…
The items on display don’t always match up with what’s inside because products are out of stock…..
“This is the future of retail and shopping,” Avakian said.
CNN notes that major corporations are backing the company Cooler Screens, which “has raised more than $100 million from backers including Microsoft and Verizon.” But long-time Slashdot reader davidwr points out it’s been done before. “Some gas stations have had video ads at the pump for years now. I boycott those stations on principle.”
And Slashdot reader quonset wonders if we’re one step closer to Futurama’s vision of a world where advertisers enter our dreams.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.