Should Wal-Mart Digital Signage Use Near-Time News, Weather, POS Data?

Written by Evan Schuman
May 18th, 2010

It’s 9:17 PM and customers in a Boston grocery store are wrapping up their shopping when some Blackberries and iPhones start vibrating the news of a key sports loss of the beloved local Red Sox against the rival New York Yankees. As frowns appear from frozen foods to the AAA battery endcap displays, all of the digital signs start flashing out messages of condolence, suggesting that shoppers commiserate with a case of Sam Adams. “We’ll get ’em next time,” the sympathetic store displays digitally declare.

Traditionally, in-store digital signage has been used for the mass-broadcast of commercials set by the chain and, sometimes, tweaked regionally. But why not make the content truly unique to a store, dictated by local weather, sporting events or near-time POS activity?, asks Michael Hiatt, who ran Wal-Mart’s in-store media program until last year.

In that Boston grocery store, had the local team won, a congratulatory message would have been queued up, suggesting a celebratory case of the same local beer. The next morning, a thermometer outside the store detects unseasonably hot weather and triggers an automatic store-wide commercial for Pepsi. An unusually cold morning chill, meanwhile, could push Folger’s coffee.

Or better yet, the store POS unexpectedly sees a huge run on giant red paperclips, far in excess of the norm and a trend not detected by regional counterparts. Turns out that it’s from a mandatory school-wide project at a local elementary school. Within minutes, an alert to the store general manager allows for digital signage to declare a 20-percent-off sale on the popular paperclips, on the rationale that it’s a nice loss leader that residents will appreciate. A different product and a different situation might have merited a price hike (quietly entered into the POS and on the shelf) and a digital campaign pushing the already-hot item.

(See related Wal-Mart stories this issue: Wal-Mart Digital Makeup Trial: It’s the Inventory, Stupid and Wal-Mart: “It’s Time For Chip-And-PIN In The U.S.” )

Some customized capabilities are within the reach of most chains, and it’s specifically something that Hiatt’s former employer can do, he said. “It’s embedded in the system. It just needs to be turned on. [Wal-Mart executives] are just waiting for the opportunity to make it work. With intelligent scheduling, you can go to a Coca-Cola ad anytime the temperature is above 85 degrees and, when it’s 50 degrees and raining, then Campbell’s soup wants to participate.”


Comments are closed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.