Home Products Pop-Up Shop Offers Interactive Experience

Information gathered through RFID technology provides insights to shoppers, suppliers
August 30, 2017Joanne Friedrick

The IRL Pop-Up at Chicago’s Water Tower PlaceThe IRL Pop-Up at Chicago’s Water Tower Place
CHICAGO—A home products-oriented pop-up store, which opened at the Water Tower Place shopping mall on Michigan Avenue Aug. 24, is using interactive and RFID technology to provide necessary product information to shoppers as well as to gather consumer data for participating brands.

In Real Life (IRL), the pop-up on Water Tower’s third floor, is the creation of Melissa Gonzalez, CEO and founder of The Lion’esque Group, a New York retail strategy and pop-up architecture company, and Chicago-based mall operator General Growth Properties.

Products featured in the store include Leesa mattresses, UGallery art, Maiden Home custom furniture, Get It Right kitchen tools, Swoon Living handmade glassware and home décor items, Elko Hardwoods contemporary furniture, Signature Hardware bathroom fixtures and Kassatex bath and bed textiles.

UGallery, which launched as an online art marketplace in 2006, is able to present its products in brick-and-mortar setting through its participation in IRL, which combines digital offerings with home-like product displays.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to reach the Chicago market in the physical realm,” said Stephen Tanenbaum, co-founder and CEO in a prepared statement. “It’s one of our top markets and the IRL concept is well suited toward our customer.”

In an interview with on-demand video network Cheddar, Gonzalez noted that visitors to IRL can partake in different experiences as they explore brands that may have only been available to them online. Using a virtual reality headset and goggles, visitors to the Leesa mattress section can take a two-minute “dream journey,” led by Olympic swimmer and brand spokesperson Michael Phelps, while trying out the mattress, she said.

IRL has also teamed with Impinj to use its RFID technology. RFID-enabled keys are available to shoppers, who use them to explore products that can then be ordered for direct shipment to their homes at the checkout bar. RFID readers throughout the space also gather data on shopper movement, which is provided to Lion’esque’s Field Test software to create reports for suppliers and the mall operator about consumer activities, such as time spent in the bedroom or kitchen sections of the store, time spent interacting with specific items and purchases made, Gonzalez said. Using this information, brands may then decide if the Chicago market or the brick-and-mortar space is right for them, as well as gain useful marketing and merchandising insights, she said.

IRL is featuring home product for five months and will then switch to wellness-themed brands for its second chapter in early 2018, Gonzalez told The Chicago Tribune.

Joanne FriedrickJoanne Friedrick | Contributing Editor

Joanne Friedrick is a contributing editor for HFN with more than 20 years of retail and housewares business reporting, writing and editing. For the past 15 years she has been operating her own business with clients that include Convenience Distribution, Seafood Source and Zest, a Maine-focused consumer food and lifestyle magazine.

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