Content Guy's Note: I recently had the opportunity to visit Polar Park, the new home of the Worcester Red Sox, the Triple-A Boston Red Sox affiliate that this year moved to the Massachusetts city (the second biggest city in New England, after Boston - a fact that surprised me) from its longtime home in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
I didn't go just because I love baseball, especially minor league baseball. (Though that would've been enough of a reason.) Polar Park actually features a checkout-free store that uses technology developed by Standard Cognition, similar in many ways to the systems pioneered in the Amazon Go stores. This is the first of its kind, and if it is successful, it likely will be rolled out to many other ballparks, stadiums and arenas, for some very good reasons that are spelled out in the video below.
In addition to visiting the store - which was still in the ramping up stage at the time of my visit, with the computers learning consumer behavior before going completely online - I also had a chance to have an extended conversation with Dr. Charles Steinberg, president of the team and a longtime baseball executive with teams that include the Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres. (This, I am certain, is likely to be the only interview I do on MNB with someone who has five world championship rings.)
I have to say that I enjoyed our conversation enormously. Dr. Charles, as pretty much everyone in the ballpark refers to him, talked to me about things like how the team develops and evolves tangible community connections, and what goes into creating a differentiated ballpark experience (which is important in the minor leagues, since players who are any good end up leaving the team and going to the show). And, we talked about the advantages that the new checkout-free store will offer the team, both short-term and long-term. All things that, while we were talking about baseball, are critical to the business of retailing … and, I think, critical to pretty much any business.
I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. You can watch our chat here or listen to it as a podcast by downloading the audio file below.
One additional note, FYI …
I'm going to take tomorrow off. Have a great weekend … and I'll see you next week.