TikTok Thinks This Is Why Walgreens Has Digital Cooler Doors

If you've been to a Walgreens recently, you may have noticed that the glass doors in the refrigerated section have been replaced by digital screens. The new setup means that, instead of customers looking through the glass to see the products that are available, they're able to view them digitally before opening the refrigerator door. 

In a TikTok video that has since gone viral, customer Gus Johnson shared his frustration with the technology, citing it as a pointless concept that solves a nonexistent problem. "Apparently now we as a society think it's a good idea to put screens on all the god**** doors instead of just being able to look and see what's inside?" he lamented in the video. "Why? Did we need this?"

Many TikTokers in the comment section agreed with Johnson, expressing their disappointment in what appears to be an over-the-top upgrade. "[Walgreens] can't pay workers $15 an hour, but can replace every glass door with HD screens," user @jkpancake pointed out. Others defended the drugstore chain's decision, speculating that it's more environmentally-friendly. "Probably saves them money on cooling the freezers and fridges," @avejoe10 commented. And another user @thedizzyworld added, "It's less work. No label changes, no workers putting hundreds of discount stickers on things. Just one button press." 

While these may be byproduct benefits of the upgrade, the truth is that Walgreens was likely inspired by neither of these reasons.

Walgreens digital cooler doors may just be a marketing tactic

According to the Wall Street Journal, Walgreens began testing the digital cooler doors in November 2018. The technology comes from Cooler Screens, a company financed and powered by Microsoft, and it's more than a monitor that displays photos of food and drink options. Wall Street Journal explains that the digital coolers are also embedded with cameras and sensors, both inside and outside, that display targeted ads for every customer that stands in proximity to the cooler, based on factors like age and gender. 

The technology also tracks which items the customer looked at or picked up, giving Walgreens insight into buying patterns. As Cooler Screens CEO Arsen Avakian further elaborated, "The business model is built on providing intelligence to brands and to the retailers to craft a much better shopping experience." While it might be hard not to feel like Walgreens is spying on you, the company assures it's simply a more effective way to shop. Microsoft confirmed that Cooler Screens will be installed in 2,500 Walgreens locations nationwide by the end of 2021.