New interactive station for health retailers enabling shoppers to get up to speed on Eye of Newt's benefits

January 21, 2010 by Dave Haynes

Interactive digital screens in the health retail sector is one of those things that makes sooo much sense, because so many of the products on the shelves are exotic and unfamiliar. You have probably had the experience of walking into one of these places and picking up a bottle of Eye of Newt and wondering what the hell that was for?
You could squint and try to somehow read the teeny teeny type on the bottle, or ask someone working there – who was probably busy in the back grinding up dried bat feet.
Or you could take the thing over to bar code reader with a screen attached and get the lowdown. Except no such thing was out there.
There may well be others around, but I now know there is at least one product filling that bill – a new free-standing marketing unit that 
Toronto-based Planet-Tek Systems is putting into some 30 leading natural health retailers across Canada this year. Called the Marketplace Station, the program is an extension on what the Planet-Tek guys have going with Whole Foods up here, and going after the marketing dollars used to drive sales of various powders, pills, lotions and potions in the nutritional supplements sector.
I joke, as we have all kinds of that stuff in our house. It’s a huge sector, and I will always remember the words of the president of a monster retailer in that space, who smiled and said, “Our margins are exotic.”  
Says the release: 

Originally launched in 2008 at select Whole Foods Market locations, the program has been an integral marketing vehicle for both the retailer and brands within the store for communicating products and services to consumers. 

The Marketplace Station team will continue to provide end-to-end campaign planning and media buying services for brands within each location to compliment their in-store marketing mix. Campaigns are available in 30-second inventory segments, along with available digital content services. 

New this year, interspersed into the full-motion programming, will be editorial features on health and lifestyle ideas provided and sponsored by Preferred Nutrition. Additionally, there will be interactive applications (apps) that are being sponsored by some of the top brands in the natural health industry that include Advantage Health Matters, Bio-K Plus, Renew Life, SISU, Preferred Nutrition, and Platinum Naturals. These interactive applications are designed as “apps”, so users (consumers and staff) can learn about products on-demand through a simple touch-screen framework. 

“We are proud to service some of the top retailers and brands in the industry with a program that allows information to be readily accessible where it matters most”, says George Andreoglou, President of Planet-Tek Systems. Furthermore, our ability to develop interactive content in the form of “apps” will allow for the mobilization of this content onto smart phone platforms in the future so brands can continue their relationship with consumers and the retailers”. 

Key Drivers and Features of The Marketplace Station Program 

New Features: new features of the program this year includes the use of touch screen displays that will allow users to interact with content they are interested in. An integrated bar-code scanning system will further trigger on-demand product information. Consumers and staff at-retail will be able to learn about featured products through an interactive content framework that is easy to navigate through. 

Analytics and Research: the digital program is capable of deriving data from actual audience viewership that is captured through an anonymous analytics sensor against each display. Additionally, touch screen data from users interacting with featured content will also be captured this year. Select data will be compiled into Pulse Analytics Reports and delivered on a monthly basis so retailers and brands can heighten their intelligence of the in-store environments. Data will be broken down on a store-by-store basis highlighting viewer impressions delivered per month, time of day impressions, gender of impressions, and touch screen impressions against content displayed. 
The 32 inch screens are actually powered by Apple Mac Minis (running Linux, methinks) and has a bar code reader and audience counting technology. 

“Putting this type of data in the hands of us, the retailers and marketers, will help us heighten the knowledge of the industry as a whole” says Guy D’Addario, Director of Marketing of Nature’s Emporium in Newmarket, Ontario. 
Planet-Tek (client when I was peddling software) plans to add another 70-100 retailers beyond 2010, trying to make its service the dominant communications channel in at least the Canuck natural health industry. 
PEI-based ScreenScape did a deal last year with Canadian health retailer Nutrition House, taking the more traditional zoned screen and news headline approach, as opposed to interactive and instructional.  

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