Member Perspective: Unlocking In-Store Retail Media

Rick Shuman
Grey's Rick Shuman

At Grey, we believe there will soon be an explosion of in-store retail media tactics. Only 9% of U.S. retail media networks offer in-store digital media for brands, but 90% of sales happen in-store, according to Merkle and Statista. A new and largely untapped opportunity is becoming clear — harnessing the power of retail sales data to execute highly effective in-store activations to build fully integrated omnichannel programs.

Retailers are adding capabilities and improving measurement within their retail media networks, and we expect to see this accelerate. Let’s look at some recent examples.

Kroger announced an expanded partnership with Cooler Screens to 500 stores. This followed a three-year pilot with the goal of improving in-store shopping experiences through captivating interactive screens and digital merchandising.

Walmart also added new product demos and in-store radio to its retail media capabilities. The retailer already includes digital out-of-home media in its network. Walmart is enhancing these tactics through improved sales attribution and putting screens in highly desirable locations, such as checkout and the wall of TVs in the electronics department.

Another notable move was Wakefern Food Corp. rolling out 95 Freeosk units in ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer after a successful pilot. The kiosks serve as in-store discovery destinations for product and category innovation by dispensing free samples. Digital media space is offered on large touchscreens and the kiosks provide secondary merchandising space.

Physical stores lack personalized experiences, but sales data through retail media networks and retailer data licensing may be key to enabling brands to bring personalization in-store. The reality will still be one-to-many
messaging for the near term, but we can slowly add additional levels of personalization to get closer to one-to-one messaging. Although the oppor-tunities are limitless, we can imagine some near-term possibilities. QR codes could unlock personalized content based on shopping habits, such as unique discounts or trade price reductions that can help brands reduce subsidization. Augmented reality experiences could be dynamic and personalized, not one-size-fits-all. Even SMS and push notifications could move beyond geofencing and into being personalized based on previous purchase history.

All of this has mutual benefits for brands, shoppers and retailers. One of the key outcomes of in-store integration into retail media networks is an enhanced shopping experience. It’s about helping shoppers find products they need faster and facilitating product discovery that may be relevant based on purchase history. Brands also can reach shoppers with important messaging at scale with closed-loop measurement near the point of conversion to ensure success. Lastly, brands can expose new audiences to product discovery and aid in category growth during moments when shoppers are likely to act on impulse while in-store.

As we prepare to embrace these new tactics, we face the reality that brand budgets won’t get larger. So where do we pull spend from to execute the latest tactics? Retail media spend surpassed connected TV spend and is on pace to surpass broadcast TV by next year. When you think about eyeballs in-store as a media audience, they represent nearly double the reach of a retailer’s average digital audience — this is incredibly powerful. In-store budget typically fights for only a small share of overall budget. A case can now be made to tap into TV budgets, however, given the scale, increasing ability to closed-loop measure and proximity to conversion.

There is another area that could push investment into this space — trade incentives from retailers, such as incremental displays, digital support or even shelf placement. Most retailers aren’t making merchandising or trade decisions based on retail media spend, but some are beginning to explore this space.

In-store retail media is about to have its time in the spotlight. Let’s prepare for it together.