CSNews Exclusive: Xtra Mart's Installs In-store Digital Signage

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CSNews Exclusive: Xtra Mart's Installs In-store Digital Signage

By W.B. King - 04/13/2011

NO. GROSVENORDALE, Conn. -- In today's digital world there are two devices that are hard to escape: smart phones and high definition flat screen televisions. Ease of use, coolness factor and access to information are among reasons for their popularity. While more and more c-stores are taking advantage of mobile phone app initiatives, others are capitalizing on in-store selling opportunities via digital advertising solutions.

In February, Xtra Mart announced it would incorporate GoGo Cast's high definition Go-Screens in 150 of its stores throughout Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. By mid-April, nearly 60 stores are functioning with the new technology, and by the end of the second quarter 2011, the company expects all stores to have the screens.

"The initial feedback from our customers, clerks and managers has been phenomenal. The customers are online and engaged with the television screen," Rob Corona, director of purchasing at Xtra Mart told CSNews Online, explaining that for many customers it takes a few store visits to notice the screen and product offerings. "We have been looking at technology like this for quite a few years, and we think now the technology is finally there. GoGo has put together a product that seems to work for us."

While in-store advertising is as old as the retail business itself, this solution is unique in that it delivers product information specific to a region or a store. Customers are provided with weather, traffic and local news updates, but also top-selling products in that submarket and specials of the day. This allows c-stores to develop specific marketing campaigns targeting different demographics at different times of the day or night.

"We have the ability to create special zones and run promotions in the deli section, for example, such as pizza specials," said Corona, who said this ability came in handy during the NCAA Basketball Championship that featured winning team, the University of Connecticut. "These changes can be made in real time," he said.

As the economy slowly rebounds every business is watching its bottom line, making investments difficult. However, Xtra Mart's investment was zero dollars, explained David Paolo, president and CEO of GoGO Cast. "We buy all the hardware. We install it. We manage it and put all the content on the screens at no charge to the store." Under this arrangement GoGo owns the content and the retailer is required to sign a three- or five-year contract. Xtra Mart signed on for the latter. "We give the location space (on the screen) to sell their own internal products. In some instances, depending on the size of the chain, there is sometimes a revenue share," Paolo explained.

And before Xtra Mart signed on, Corona and colleagues were able to familiarize themselves with the technology. "We tested it at headquarters, and also did a test install out in the field," said Corona. "We received feedback from customers and employees and talked to other customers who had used a similiar product. They were excited by it."

Paolo added that other c-stores customers using the high-definition televisions have more than doubled customer in-store time. "The average was about two minutes," he noted. "Now customers are in the store closer to four or five minutes and making more purchases."

Depending on a c-store chain size, it takes between 30 to 90 days from discovery process to full rollout of the system. Corona explained installation is non-invasive and straightforward. "The installation is very quick with minimal interruption and takes less than one hour per site," said Corona.

GoGo's market research finds that on average a promoted product on in-store television screens experience a 17 percent spike in sales. Corona said early indicators are good in terms of sales, but he would have a better understanding of sales figures when the program is fully rolled out.

"Those were the numbers (percentages) that were provided to us, but regionally it might depend on variables and we are waiting on more data," said Corona.