When Food Lion, Salisbury, N.C., began testing its new Bloom format two years ago, it specifically designed the new banner to make in-store media essential to the shopping experience.
Bloom shoppers can locate items by pressing a few buttons at an "information station." They can scan a bottle of wine at the wine kiosk and interact with a touchscreen monitor to see what foods it complements. At another kiosk, they can print out a recipe for a specific cut of meat or filet of fish. And when they take a cart, they also can pick up a portable scanner that allows them to save time by beginning the checkout process as they shop.
"The idea of Bloom is to offer a hassle-free, novel shopping experience for an upscale customer," said Bloom spokeswoman Karen Peterson.
In-store media at checkout, perimeter and shelf are increasingly part of the supermarket shopping experience. Such programs help to differentiate supermarkets in a competitive environment by underscoring the products and services they provide.
Retailers say in-store media can even motivate shoppers to buy unfamiliar products, thereby spurring sales of slow-moving items. Supermarkets are just beginning to realize the potential of in-store media.
A growing part of in-store media is video programming, which has gone from an experimental to a mainstream format for brand-building and information transfer, according to Premier Retail Networks, San Francisco, a provider of point-of-sale broadcast networks.
ShopRite, Pathmark and Albertsons are using PRN to broadcast programming from the Discovery Channel, Food Network and Oxygen Network. Content is mixed with product-supported advertising for national and store brands, along with highlighting store services. Natalie Egleston, general manager of supermarket networks at PRN, said, "It can inform shoppers about little-known areas of the store, like a card or flower department."
The network is also used to highlight retail-supported charities.
ShopRite has embraced this form of in-store media. About 140 of its 190 stores currently have PRN units at the checkout. The network is a mix of lifestyle content that often includes tips on cooking and parenting.
"Having television programming at checkout is one more opportunity to gain valuable information," said Karen Meleta, director of corporate communications and media relations at Wakefern Food Corp., Elizabeth, N.J., the co-op that supplies and operates ShopRite stores.
Albertsons, Pathmark and Price Chopper are among the retailers that are using in-store media networks from SignStorey, Fairfield, Conn. SignStorey places monitors at strategic points (including bakery, deli and produce) on the perimeter of a store.
"We provide customized programming to the shopper at the point at which they are spending time," said Virginia Cargill, chief executive officer of SignStorey. One such place is produce, where shoppers appreciate meal tips or information about fruits or vegetables that SignStorey provides. SignStorey recommends stores have two to three 42-inch plasma screens mounted just above eye level, and each SignStorey screen within a single store carries a different message.
In April 2005, Albertsons, Boise, Idaho, added both PRN checkout programming and SignStorey perimeter units to its stores in San Francisco, as well as in its Jewel-Osco stores in Chicago, and Shaw's and Star Market stores in Boston.
Fiesta Mart is assessing the value of a new type of electronic media. The Houston-based chain, which operates 50 stores in Texas, is testing ShelfAds from P.O.P. Broadcasting Co. ShelfAds are compact wireless ad displays that attach to the shelf and feature a high-resolution television screen with sound. They can be programmed for four 10-second spots or two 15-second ads, which are activated by infrared sensors when a person stops in front of the display.
Fiesta Mart, in turn, receives a free 10-second ad that it uses to promote various store offerings.
"It remains to be seen if this format moves things out the door, but it might call attention to a slow-mover or be used to reposition an old favorite," said Keith Jacobsen, advertising manager for Fiesta Mart.