Last year, Walgreens announced that it would be employing screens on its cooler doors thanks to a partnership with a company called Cooler Screens.
“The 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,” writes Nathaniel Meyersohn for CNN Business. “The tech provides stores with an additional revenue stream and a way to modernize the shopping experience.”
While this may have been the intention, the response from the public has been mixed, as TikTok user Madison (@madisonrruby) shared in a recent video with over 799,000 views as of Saturday.
“Now even stores are using filters to catfish us with products,” she writes in the text overlaying a video showing the cooler screens in operation. In the caption, she adds, “If only there was some type of material you could just see through and keep the cold inside.”
@madisonrruby If only there was some type of material you could just see through and keep the cold inside… #fyp #walgreens #technology #dumbtechnology #digitalscreen #wasteful #advertisingscam #scam #filter #advertising #water #drinks #coolers #drinkcoolers #conviencestore ♬ I dont understand song – VOID
In the comments section, many commenters seemed unsure about what exactly the cooler screens are supposed to do.
“It’s suppose to reduce energy cost while opening fridge, basically, you know what kind of product is in this place so you dont waste time and energy,” a user wrote.
“I’m guessing it’s so people don’t stand there with the doors open looking if the glass gets frosted at all,” another offered.
“I feel like it’s for the workers for restocking,” a third suggested.
On Cooler Screens’ website, the brand says the purpose of the screens is to “bring in-store consumers an irresistible experience with what they love about shopping online: ease, relevance, and transparency.”
This transparency is metaphorical, as the screens are not transparent and must be programmed to show what is inside.
As far as power saving is concerned, this claim does not appear to be made on Cooler Screens’ site, though a 2019 Slate article claims that potential power savings were, at least at one point, used in marketing.
However, the main selling points seem to involve the screens’ ability to display advertising while tracking customer behavior.
“The Cooler Screens platform gathers a record of a person’s presence (not identity) in front of the door, the dwell time (time in front of a screen) and door opens for merchandising and campaign performance information,” claims the company’s website. “The platform includes optical sensors which anonymously detect consumer presence and interaction.”
TikTok users’ primary reaction to the screens seems to be confusion.
As one user commented, “What was wrong with the regular windows…?”
We’ve reached out to Walgreens via email and Madison via TikTok comment.