This is shaping up to be a busy year for shopping cart screens.
In mid-March, a new shopping cart screen called MediaCart will debut at two stores operated by a midsize Northeast food retailer, according to Jon Kramer, chief marketing officer, Media Cart Holdings, Plano, Texas. An additional four to six retailers will conduct tests by the end of the year, he said.
Meanwhile, the leader of the category, Shopping Buddy, now in 25 stores in Massa-chusetts and Connecticut run by Stop & Shop Supermarkets, Quincy, Mass., continues to evolve. Cuesol, also of Quincy, which created Shopping Buddy's software, has partnered with InStore Broadcasting Network (IBN), Salt Lake City, to develop an integrated platform that will blend messages on IBN's in-store screens and audio broadcasts with information on the Shopping Buddy screen.
The integrated platform will be tested in up to five Stop & Shop stores in late summer, according to Mike Grimes, vice president, sales and marketing, at Cuesol.
In addition, IBN has begun installing 42-inch screens over the banks that hold Shopping Buddy devices at the entrance to the stores. The screens, which explain how the devices work and how shoppers can benefit from using them, are expected to be in place in all 25 Shopping Buddy stores over the next month, said Grimes. Stop & Shop did not respond to requests for comment.
Grimes added that Cuesol has improved the targeting capability of the Shopping Buddy device, enabling it to make more “relevant” offers to loyalty shoppers based on their purchasing history. Cuesol has started rolling this capability out to the stores. In addition, starting in two stores in May, Cuesol will be making “profound changes” in the Shopping Buddy, Grimes said, declining to offer specifics.
In Canada, Springboard Retail Networks, Toronto, hopes to test its Concierge shopping cart screen at two retailers by the end of 2007, according to Sylvain Perrier, the company's vice president of technology.
IN FIELD OF VISION
While the Shopping Buddy is positioned on the handle of the shopping cart, MediaCart's screen is at the back of the cart. “Shoppers don't shop looking down; they shop looking ahead,” Kramer said.
In addition, the MediaCart screen is permanently attached to the cart, whereas the Shopping Buddy is detachable. The shopper still uses buttons on the handle to operate features on the MediaCart screen. Retailers do not pay a premium for carts equipped with the MediaCart equipment, said Kramer.
Another way MediaCart differs from Shopping Buddy is that MediaCart displays ads from CPG companies in the form of flash video on the screen without audio. The ads are triggered by RFID tags placed around the store on gondolas and in the perimeter; the tags are read by an RFID reader at the bottom of the cart.
CPG companies decide where the ads should be shown, based on tests of their influence on shopping decisions. Retailers share in the ad revenues generated by the system. Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Kraft Foods and PepsiCo are among the CPG companies that ran ads on the MediaCart in a 7,000-square-foot test facility in Plano.
MediaCart and Shopping Buddy have some features in common. Both systems display store specials, locate products, enable remote deli ordering, and allow shoppers to scan and bag during the trip and pay at the self-checkout lanes. MediaCart's product locator is activated either by voice recognition or manually.
MediaCart does not require a shopper to scan a loyalty card, as does Shopping Buddy. But MediaCart is capable of making targeted offers based on loyalty card history if the shopper opts to scan the card.