September 28, 2006, 12:00 AM

At Ralph Lauren, window shopping is hands-on

Bringing a whole meaning to window shopping, Polo Ralph Lauren`s flagship Madison Ave. store in New York used touch-sensitive technology to let passers-by touch its window glass to make a purchase. "We`re re-inventing the concept of shopping any time," senior vice president David Lauren says.

A web-driven installation at Polo Ralph Lauren’s flagship Madison Avenue store in New York this summer gives “window shopping” a whole new meaning. Touch-sensitive technology projecting onto the window a screen featuring company-designed tennis wear-a tie-in to its sponsorship this year of the U.S. Open-allowed passers-by to shop from outside the store, 24-7, by simply tapping on the window glass.

David Lauren, senior vice president of advertising, marketing and corporate communications at Polo Ralph Lauren, says he came up with the idea after seeing the movie “Minority Report.” “I wanted to find a way to make that amazing technology a retail reality,” he says.

The touch screen projected onto the window is powered by a lightweight touch foil applied directly to the glass. A rear projection screen was then used to complete the through-window shopping experience. A satellite link to processed all transactions at the window.

The interactive window was one element of an integrated multi-channel marketing effort launched by Polo Ralph Lauren in connection with the famed tennis tournament. In addition to creating styles and accessories especially for the event, ranging from ball boy/ball girl uniforms and linesman jackets, the company opened a temporary virtual store at the club level Arthur Ashe stadium, the event venue. There, shoppers could purchase U.S. Open fashions from Polo at three free-standing web-enabled kiosks featuring touch screen technology.

The Madison Avenue interactive window installation was up and running from early August through the first week of September. The on-site virtual store was open for the duration of the tournament, and all of the official U.S. Open apparel is being offered on and in Ralph Lauren stores.

No word from Polo Ralph Lauren on sales driven by the event-driven marketing initiative effort, but one thing’s already clear: Bringing the e-commerce experience to the store window and the virtual store right into the event venue pushes the interactive shopping experience to new levels. But then, that is what success in e-retailing is about. “With this initiative, we are reinventing the concept of shopping anytime,” says Lauren.


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