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CSNews Exclusive: Spinx Oil Finds Success with In-store Digital Signage

By Tammy Mastroberte

NEW YORK -- In today’s digital age of touchscreen cell phones and computers, and the ability to see a person talking from another country on technologies like Skype and iChat, it seems people are getting more and more used to staring at a screen.

Spinx Oil Co., in Greenville, S.C., is capitalizing on the new era by utilizing in-store digital signage at 42 of its 66 locations throughout North and South Carolina. At the beginning of 2008, the company began working with Digital Promo Network (DPN), based in Harvard, Mass., who works exclusively with the convenience store industry offering 32-inch and 55-inch flat-screen digital signs.

While Spinx originally piloted in-store signage at 12 locations with another vendor, it went out of business after eight months, so the company switched to DPN, and a full-scale rollout started immediately.

"When we saw DPN’s focus on the c-store industry, and the number of partners they had on board, we felt confident with them," said Terry Taylor, director of marketing at Spinx.

Each of the 42 stores display two 32-inch screens suspended from the ceiling -- one at the checkout and another in the pathway of the customer as they enter the store, said Stan Storti, CFO of the company. Additionally, three locations—all concept and prototype stores —also feature 55-inch screens to highlight the foodservice offering.

"I personally like the DPN concept inside the store to consolidate our signage," said Stewart Spinks, CEO of the company, who is a believer in the power of digital technology. "Just like our self-service foodservice ordering kiosks, I think we eventually have to go to menu boards where you can change them hourly if necessary."

There are approximately 70 picture ads that run on the network over a 24-hour period, and DPN sells spots to national companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline, Coca Cola and Hostess. Spinx uses six spots each month per daypart to promote its brand, products and services, including its car wash, foodservice offerings, and coffee and fountain items, said Taylor. DPN produces the artwork and each ad runs between 10 and 15 seconds, and DPN downloads the monthly playlists to each device’s IP address.

There are three dayparts—morning, mid-day and evening—and Spinx chooses monthly which ads run during the different time periods, which can vary at times from store to store.

"We try to get the offers pretty uniform, but if we have a store that doesn’t have a car wash, then they won’t get that ad," said Taylor. And any changes or decisions are made directly from the headquarters office.

"No one at the store has the ability to change messaging on the devices," Storti noted. "We access it at our headquarters, and our advertising manager handles it."

While the screens have no audio, they feature weather forecasts and the time along the bottom, and the stores are set up with music and in-store messaging from another vendor to handle special offers where the company can get much more specific than on the screens, said Taylor.

"We are just starting to share information with DPN, but we are already seeing anywhere from a 5 percent to a 25 percent sales lift on the promoted items," he noted. "The last analysis I did was 15 percent."

The two companies established an information sharing mechanism where Spinx will send DPN sales information daily, and the company will feed back the analysis to them, and there are also revenue sharing opportunities available for the future.

"We can use our own vendor contacts and sell the screens as well, but even if they sell them, we are still getting a lift on the product from what we are seeing," Taylor explained. "If we start selling advertising that will just be pure revenue, and make it more specific to our vendor based."

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