How was your pharmacy experience?

While making a late night run to RiteAid I came across something that was equal parts bizarre and thought provoking:

How Was Your Pharmacy Experience

The question, “How was my pharmacy experience,” is easy to answer: I didn’t have one. The pharmacy, as evidenced by the gate in the background, was closed. What is worthy of note, though, is how this device is an example of the Internet of Things (IoT), merging with Big Data to provide better customer experiences in retail environments.


A company called Happy or Not produces these “smiley terminals,” as the devices are called. Essentially, when a customer presses one of the 4 smiley buttons (e.g. Happy), that event and the associated time and location are saved in a database somewhere in the cloud. Thousands of these events are saved, categorized, and displayed on a dashboard of some sort.


Eventually someone at RiteAid who has access to this dashboard will know that 20 people reported they were sad (or whatever the pink face translates into) at store X between 4pm and 5pm yesterday. That data will help RiteAid begin to address the poor customer experience.


Kiosks like the smiley terminal are clumsy and, in the long run, undermine the brand perception of the companies that deploy these systems. For starters, the device is unaware of context in any meaningful way – if the pharmacy is closed the kiosk should also be “closed.” Next, the kiosk effectively pops up along the customer journey, which is random and jarring. It really feels like a physical pop-up window.


Lastly, there’s a huge missed opportunity because the experience lacks personalization. Imagine, for instance, using a customer’s loyalty data from, say, a mobile app, to offer a reward for providing feedback in-context. Actually, this entire experience should be incorporated into RiteAid’s mobile app, but it isn’t.


A better solution would deploy iBeacon technology at RiteAid locations and, based on the customer’s journey, would ask the right question (how useful is it to ask the same question over and over again?) at the right time (while exiting the store) in the right tone (based on segmentation information) on a mobile or wearable device.


Integrating customer information into the retail experience in this way creates new opportunities for businesses and customers. It’s these sort of holistic experiences we design and build at Isobar, like our recent hackathon with Hybris that you can read more about here.