Do you have that in yellow? NYC tests taxi shopping

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Allison Schiff, web editor, Direct Marketing News
Allison Schiff, web editor, Direct Marketing News

Personally, the first thing I do when I get into a New York City yellow cab is turn off or press the mute button on that “smart” advertising that automatically pops up on the little interactive touch screen facing the back seat. If I wanted to be blitzed by Al Roker clips I would … wait, who wants that?

In any case, Glamour magazine is rolling out a test scenario in the lead-up to Fashion Week, offering fares the chance to buy beauty products from the backseat, according to The Wall Street Journal. Once they download the necessary app, they'll be able to casually wave their smart devices in front of the screen to make luxury purchases to be delivered to a physical address later.

The five-day experiment will start this Friday. Fifty cabs will be outfitted with the technology and deployed around the Meatpacking District and Lincoln Center. Willing participants who are lucky enough to hail one of the specially kitted-out cabs will ride for free.

Depending on how into shopping you are, I guess you could call it a true joy ride.

The Journal said that the Glamour people are trying to recreate the virtual stores Tesco created in the Seoul subway system, where South Koreans (they, unlike NYC, have underground WiFi) could shop for groceries with their smartphones by scanning QR codes.

I know being able to shop on-the-go is just a logical step when it comes to mobile technology and any brand that doesn't take advantage of that will probably end up behind-the-times (etcetera, etcetera), but there's very little about the experience of being in a taxi cab that is conducive, at least in my mind, to shopping. You're bumping along at high-speed (until you stop short at a red light), you might be late and if you're like me you're keeping your eye on the meter to make sure you have enough on you to cover the ride.

Maybe it might make sense for longer taxi rides, like to the airport, for example — but mostly I feel like it's just another assault on my attention. Does there always have to be a screen in my eye-line that's selling me something?

Side point: I can't even imagine how annoying it must be for the cabbies themselves, having to listen to the same content pumped out over and over again just behind them. Kind of like when my poor college roommate Suzie worked part-time in a Hallmark at the Natick Mall in Massachusetts during the winter holiday season and the store management played Clay Aiken's Christmas album on a loop. She almost lost her mind.

Luckily for the drivers of the new 18,000 livery cabs proposed to hit NYC's taxi fleet, The New York Times reported they will have the choice to opt-in or out of including those little glowing screens in their hacks.

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