When Arsen Avakian was CEO and co-founder of Argo Tea, he observed many people using their smartphone screens to access information while they shopped at retail stores.
What if, he thought, there was a way to bring the best aspects of the digital shopping ecosystem into brick-and-mortar stores?
The Gap in the Market
The two traditional types of retailers are brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers.
Nowadays, however, there’s a lot of crossover. Many, if not most, brick-and-mortar retailers now have online storefronts, along with social media accounts and digital payment options. They also provide “You left something in your cart!” reminder emails, retargeting ads, and seasonal online-only specials.
Retailers that started online sometimes open physical locations. Other times, they prefer to sell via partners directly to consumers. They do this with multilevel marketing (MLM) or through online storefronts such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.
Despite the proliferation of options to convert customers online, brands still need ways to advertise to consumers at brick-and-mortar stores, where 87% of CPG purchases are made.
Approaching a cooler full of beverages can be overwhelming, especially when you’re in a hurry. Do you choose your favorite brand, something caffeinated or sugar-free, something on sale, or something new? What else can shoppers use to make their purchase decisions?
The Proposed Solution: In-Store Smart Screens
Avakian started envisioning IoT-enabled smart screens that display clear and concise information at a glance to help customers make informed decisions. As a result, brands can run highly targeted and responsive ads based on location, inventory, customer traffic, and even weather. Ads to build loyalty, share values, or simply catch the eyes of passersby in the cooler and freezer aisles.
Such a ready source of information could help shoppers meet their dietary, budget, and taste preferences.
So in 2017, Avakian co-founded a company called Cooler Screens. Cooler Screens brings the digital experience to a moment of truth when a customer is ready to select a product from the shelf. The Cooler Screens team built technology to serve three main groups: brands, retailers, and consumers.
Brand marketing teams can analyze data about point-of-purchase decision-making faster and more accurately than ever before. Retailers can plan for inventory and maximize profits based on buying habits and digital campaign timing. Additionally, consumers can learn more about products, such as by viewing dietary callouts (think: “Gluten Free” or “Contains Tree Nuts”).
Cooler screens invite consumers into a more engaging shopping experience at the intersection of commerce, context, and content. Smart screens bring what they love about online shopping — pictures, information and promotions — directly to the store’s cooler doors and surfaces.
Cooler Screens is identity-blind, never gathering or using personally identifiable or linkable information. In fact, it is the first retail tech platform to be certified in “Privacy by Design.” This method removes a barrier to consumer acceptance that continues to challenge online retailers and gives shoppers a richer, more informed and more enjoyable retail experience.
The Future: Retail Media Becomes Mainstream
Cooler Screens, by now, has reached 90 million touch points for consumer traffic with approximately 10,000 screens.
In locations that piloted the screens, unit sales grew by as much as 100% over comparable nearby stores. Over time, Avakian predicts, retail media will become a central, integrated part of the consumer experience. The reality is that our digital and physical worlds are now connected.
The retail media market is predicted to grow by 25% per year to $100 billion by 2026. This will account for 25% of total digital media spending, according to Boston Consulting Group.
Retail marketing professionals can access the Cooler Screens retail digital media and insights platform programmatically, incorporating in-store media for omnichannel ad campaigns with the same demand-side platforms as other digital media. The integration gives advertisers control and measurability over their brand’s presence and presentation in new in-store ad spaces.
Cooler Screens envisions a world where the digital and in-person shopping experience seamlessly connect, bringing value to consumer’s brands and retailers.