For consumers today, service equals convenience, so retailers are increasing their use of technology in hope that it will allow them to more efficiently serve their customers along with providing them more information.
Self-serve automation – such as self check-outs, self-order kiosks and RFID tags – are allowing retailers to improve costs and efficiencies. In addition, interactive digital displays are becoming more user-friendly by upgrading to 40-inch-plus screens to allow more than one consumer to view. In-store television networks are also emerging from larger retailers like Wal-Mart to inform shoppers of specials or promotions.
The grocery store Bloom – a concept store division of Food Lion – offers interactive information stations for frequently asked product location questions, and map the customer’s location to the product’s spot. As well, its produce department provides Choicemaster kiosks, which offer price, origin and pairing suggestions for bottles of wine. The system also can assist customers with party preparation; for example, the customer enters the number of guests and wine preferences, and receives suggestions as to how many bottles are needed.
In the arena of multitasking, Foodsource by Clemens, a three-store upscale supermarket chain in Pennsylvania and Delaware, has installed a self-order unit near its café.
Improved systems continue to increase sales opportunities at point-of-purchase as well. One example is transaction suspense, a register key that saves a transaction that has been interrupted, allowing a retailer to pause a sale in order to recommend a complementary item or educate the shopper on another product.
With people embracing do-it-yourself tools in banking and travel it’s not hard to imagine they will be willing to catch onto these technologies in retail as well. The key, industry experts say, is to make sure the technology benefits the consumer.
Art of the Can
Recycling takes on a whole new meaning as Red Bull Art of the Can starts its 2006 nationwide search for aluminum-inspired art. The contest asks imaginative individuals to create original works of art out of Red Bull cans. Selected artwork will be displayed in one of three public exhibitions taking place this fall in Atlanta, Dallas and Minneapolis. A grand prize winner will be selected in each city and will be awarded a trip for two to Art Basel, a modern and contemporary art fair in Basel, Switzerland.
Bacardi is the first consumer packaged goods company to fund an online and mobile radio station. Scheduled to launch in May in the United States and London, Bacardi B Live Radio will be available through the internet and directly through mobile phones for 21 and older adults on the move. Bacardi B Live Radio will play a mix of party and dance music with guest DJs selected from a global portfolio to produce exclusive contemporary mixes. It also will allow listeners to hear Bacardi-sponsored concerts and events.
Chicago Cubs fans filling the outfield seats at Wrigley Field will be sitting in the Bud Light Bleachers. Anheuser-Busch has purchased the naming rights to the seats, which were part of a $13.5 million renovation that added another 1,800 seats to the section. The brewer has long been a sponsor of Cubs’ broadcasts.
Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, Texas, is the national beer sponsor for the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s (LAF) Livestrong Challenge – a series of five fundraising events, including a bike ride, run and walk. The brewery will provide LAF with event support and hospitality for all 2006 Livestrong Challenge weekend events. In addition, the LAF will be the beneficiary of the Eighth Annual Shiner BASH, a Texas cycling event taking place in May, with starting lines in Austin, San Antonio and Houston.
Carolina Beverage Corp. launched an under-the-cap music promotion for its soft drink Cheerwine. The music promotion – Backstage VIP – features a prize package that includes travel to a concert, concert tickets and backstage passes in a VIP setting. In addition to four grand prize winners, the promotion includes instant winners, with Cheerwine giving away 350,000 free music downloads, 10,000 free CDs and autographed guitars. Cheerwine’s Backstage VIP promotion is featured in radio spots that include the voices of Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish, Deana Carter and Edwin McCain.
Hard Rock launched Mas Tequila, a Mexican-themed drink promotion that features Sammy Hagar’s signature Cabo Wabo Tequilas, during April and May. On Cinco de Mayo, select Hard Rock Cafes also will offer guests the chance to register to win a Yamaha guitar autographed by Hagar and concert tickets to Sammy and the Wabos’ upcoming “Livin’ It Up” summer tour.