Cabco USA, Inc. is rolling out ambitious new shopping cart screens which offer a variety of interactive features. According to the Promo article, "As shoppers move down an aisle, the Mi-Kart detects an advertiser’s product using a trigger placed at the bottom of store shelves and plays an ad on the screen. Users can select from various options on the computer menu to look up product and nutrition information, seek out in-store specials and scan items for prices."
The first thing that came to my mind with this one is the issue of space. The article says the screens will be seven inches big, yet that may be seven inches too much for busy housewives often toting a toddler or two in a cart that's already crammed to the brim. I've seen overly packed shopping carts every single time I've run into a supermarket, and the people that use them always seem to be in some kind of a rush. These are usually the "professional" shoppers who have maximized every square inch of their carts.
The technology seems like it can be genuinely helpful, but Cabco USA, Inc. really needs to consider whether it's going to be seen as unwelcome clutter. They might also want to make sure they've learned from the trials and tribulations of IBM's ill-fated Shopping Buddy, which was a very cool idea, but never really got off the ground.
This will obviously be appealing to both advertisers and supermarkets themselves, because it has the ability to group related products together and sell them as a bundle. This technique has been proven to increase basket size in the past, and the theory makes sense: if shoppers take notice to a (screen, poster, whatever) that recommends a recipe that seems appealing to them, then they should be more likely to purchase those products together. As always, the issue is how long to make the videos as well as how good their production values are. If the videos look like corny public access TV fare, rather than a slick, fast, easy-to-look-at demos, then they'll probably have trouble catching peoples' attentions.
Last but not least, Home Depot is cutting back on in-store signage because they're concerned that shoppers are being overwhelmed by it. According to Promo, "through consumer insight, Home Depot learned that customers have certain priorities when it comes to viewing signage at its stores. Navigation was No. 1, followed by store specials, how-to advice, branding and in-store promotions, (senior vice president Roger Adams) said."
Just because this is the case for The Home Depot, doesn't make it a universal truth. In-Store marketing is something that has to be adjusted to fit every single shopping experience. Even within a chain of stores, varying levels of in-store ads may work better at some locations than in others. Still, we can learn from Home Depot's example that more is not always better, and the most important thing is to understand how your customers shop your stores -- what they think, how they navigate, and why they make the decisions that they do.