Kroger grows in-store retail media with smart screens at 500 stores
The grocer is expanding a partnership with Cooler Screens.
The grocer is expanding a partnership with Cooler Screens.
You may have heard of offsite retail media. How about offline?
Retail media holds out the opportunity that brands and marketplaces can reach customers with advertising, anywhere that there’s a screen. Through a new partnership, that capability is extending to the store.
Kroger is set to add smart screens to 500 stores, bringing retail media activations to aisles and checkout lines.
It’s the result of an expanded partnership with Cooler Screens, a company that developed software and enabling hardware to provide advertising and analytics on in-store screens. The company started by developing screens for the cooler doors of frozen food sections, but has since expanded to other areas of the store, like endcaps, banner aisles or existing screens.
Kroger and Cooler Screens piloted the technology for three years, and set out to determine whether they could improve customer experiences through interactive media and digital merchandising. The companies now have conviction that the content available on screens can enable consumers to make “better-informed decisions based on their own preferences, diets, health needs, budgets and lifestyles,” according to an announcement detailing the activation.
In turn, providing in-store retail media allows brands to reach consumers while they are shopping at a brick-and-mortar location. It extends the digital ad opportunities available via ecommerce to a new channel. Unlike a traditional static display ad, digitally-powered retail media is measurable, and Cooler Screens said it offers tools that help brands provide contextually relevant promotions and product information, as well as analytics on performance.
Kroger has made retail media a central part of its digital strategy. The grocer provides advertising through the Kroger Precision Marketing arm, and customer insights through its 84.51° data science team. Executives have talked about how retail media is helping the company unlock new, high-margin business lines, and see the growth of available data as a key driver of the company’s proposed merger with Albertsons.
“We’re excited about this continued collaboration as it extends our vision for the future of retail media, offering brands another powerful marketing lever inside the store,” said Cara Pratt, senior vice president at Kroger Precision Marketing, in a statement. “Cooler Screens shares and further enables this vision by bringing the best of digital experiences directly into our retail stores while integrating with our 84.51° data science platform to create an engaging and valuable experience for our customers, associates, and brands.”
Cooler Screens said it reaches more than 90 million viewers monthly in stores. Along with Kroger, customers include Walgreens and Giant Eagle’s GetGo convenience stores.
While retail media is primarily a means of advertising on ecommerce marketplaces today, the expanded appearance of advertising on in-store screens underscores how the first-party data that powers it can be foundational for a growing range of channels.
Ask Instacart answers prompts with personalized recommendations.
A pair of recent launches from Instacart highlight how the grocery ecommerce company is integrating two of the key emerging areas of technology into its offerings: Generative AI and marketplaces.
Let’s take a look:
Instacart is seeking to harness generative AI to create a more personalized shopping experience.
A new tool called Ask Instacart that is launching this week is designed to allow customers to type in questions about specific recipes or general recommendations for an occasion. Embedded in the search bar, Ask Instacart also provides personalized questions to be asked by customers. In addition to specific items, it provides information about food preparation, product attributes and dietary considerations.
For those eying how generative AI will play a role in the shopping experience, Ask Instacart shows how search can be transformed into a place for discovery. Instacart is aiming to provide answers to the more open-ended questions that people would naturally ask, not just simply provide info in response to a question that has one answer. It shared the following sample prompts:
The tool is also showing the way for generative AI to integrate with retail media. Ask Instacart is designed to integrate with a brand's sponsored products campaign, so that the answers to questions that match consumer needs can also provide a way for brands to stand out.
To create the tool, Instacart combined the language understanding of ChatGPT with its own AI models. It added in catalog data from 80,000 retail partner locations around the country, which together have more than one billion shoppable items.
Beyond mission: Ecommerce marketplaces have honed a shopping experience where it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. But if shoppers want to happen upon something they didn’t know they needed, social media or the store is still the best place to visit. Instacart is showing how generative AI can make discovery a marketplace function. It also signals that advertising will come to generative AI by way of retail media. Going forward, the growth of discovery could make retail media more valuable as a tool for advertising that raises brand awareness, not just lower-funnel conversions.
Instacart will power a new virtual convenience store for the grocery chain Aldi.
Aldi Express will feature 2,000 of the most-shopped Aldi items, ranging from prepared food and snacks to grocery staples.
Drawing on 2,100 Aldi locations around the country, items will be delivered as fast as 30 minutes, the companies said.
“Through ALDI Express, we’re making shopping more convenient so you can satisfy a craving or get a missing ingredient in minutes,” said Scott Patton, VP of National Buying at ALDI, in a statement. “Together with Instacart, we’ll continue to find ways to innovate and make the online grocery experience even more effortless and accessible.”
Aldi began offering delivery via Instacart in 2017, and has since expanded services to include pickup as well as alcohol delivery.
Aldi’s marketplace moment? While Aldi previously offered delivery, making the assortment available through a virtual store offers the opportunity to create a marketplace for its goods. With the virtual store, it will more closely resemble DoorDash and Uber Eats, which have been expanding their grocery assortment. With a marketplace, additional revenue opportunities could open up for the grocer, such as advertising through retail media.