Media Cart, a computer screen fixed on the nose of supermarket trolleys to provide targeted communications. The Media Cart system will offer shoppers access to a wide range of features including ads for store specials, a map showing product locations in the store and even nutritional information and recipes relating to products. Customers can utilise the control panel on the handle bar to scan their goods and keep a running total of the cost of their groceries. Additionally, if they have a loyalty card, they will be able to load a shopping list onto the screen and receive targeted messages (for example, promotions based on previous purchase decisions).
The concept was developed by two Australians, David Brice and Geoff Brown, who were keen to create a more effective way to communicate with consumers at the point of purchase. Years of development, working in the USA with the world’s leading technology partners - Microsoft, Intel and Cisco, has led to the development of a software program that delivers targeted communications at the point of purchase, streamlines store operations and assists shoppers.
Media Cart Australia’s Managing Director, Brian Paterson, believes the technology will take shopping to a new level. “Advertising on a shopping trolley isn’t new,” he said. “However when you add a high definition computerised video screen, the latest radio frequency identification and software technology, real time information and sales data then that’s big news for advertisers, retailers and shoppers.”
Media Cart allows advertisers to promote their brands at the point of purchase and, for the first time, measure the results. Its unique GPS system identifies when a shopper is approaching a product category within the supermarket and then displays up to twelve seconds of dynamic product footage.
“It has the potential to totally change how advertisers launch new products, influence buyer behaviour and communicate new information to shoppers,” Mr Paterson added.
By accessing sales data and shopper dwell times, advertisers will receive immediate feedback on promotions and special offers to accurately measure sales results.
In 2007, Media Cart was extensively tested in a nine month pilot of select ShopRite supermarkets in the USA. With an average of 20,000 shoppers each week road testing the trolley, the pilots were considered a great success. A new Generation 2 model was created and the company is now preparing for final trials in the USA and across Europe and Asia.
More than 35 brands participated in the Shop Rite pilot including those from Procter and Gamble, Nestle, Kraft and Pepsi, and sales increases recorded by all of the participating products.
Shoprite was reportedly pleased by the trial due to positive customer feedback, access to real time customer and sales data, increased basket size and the potential to improve the efficiency of store operations.
Research amongst trial users discovered that the ability to see the total cost of their trolley was the most desired feature and 82% indicated they appreciated store special information displayed on the screen. Consumers also reported that the trolley was easy to use and were engaged by the displayed messages.
Technology continues to alter the way in which consumers shop for their groceries, with the Media Cart innovation among a growing number modernising the shopping experience. Australian consumers have already shown a liking for new technology judging by demand for self-service checkouts at Woolworths. The company reported last week that more than a third of their customers used the self-checkouts, surpassing expectations of 20%. Overseas, online grocery shopping and self-checkouts have garnered support, with a desire for mobile phone purchasing at retail outlets also outlined in a recent trial, as consumers constantly look for new ways to save time and money.