Milwaukee grocer gets in-store digital right

October 5, 2011 by Dave Haynes

I have a local grocer I prefer. The prices are a bit higher, but it’s not a madhouse, and I know enough to stay away on Mondays when the 2 ft/hour walker and cane crowd is in for the 65-plus discount.

What drives me slightly nuts, though, is walking the aisles and seeing their ghastly digital signage job. It’s just about everything you’d advise against in terms of content – tickers, weather, pointless content and text too small to read without binoculars. I see the same mistakes in lots of other, similar places.

So it was nice to see, in an NEC PR newsletter sent to me this morning, a case study about a small grocery chain up the road from Chicago-based NEC US. The Milwaukee-based Sendiks chain has nine stores and has installed 25 screens in each of those stores. And the content is good! Instead of news chugging along the bottom of a multi-zone screen, the programming is full-screen and actually about what’s sold in the stores.

Judging by the visuals, there’s probably too much happening on some of these presentations, but others look spot-on with strong visuals, limited and easily read text, and one price cue.

From the case study:

“When you walk in the store, you will see two to four of them immediately,” said a store official. “One will usually have a welcome message, while the others provide information on sales and specials. Each department has between one and four digital signs as well, strategically placed to work with the flow of traffic. If you follow the normal pattern within our stores, you will view all of them.”

In most cases the signs call out sale pricing for items within the department, focusing on the top items in the department for weekly sales ads, just as the company did with its printed signage. Sometimes, though, a sign in one department will tease for the one to follow, such as promoting cheese within the wine department.

“The NEC displays are so easy to control and change that it gives us the opportunity to experiment with different concepts to see what spikes sales. If we have an idea today, we can have it up in the store tomorrow. We’re also using the signage to help us build the Sendik’s brand, such as promoting our red, reusable bags and the fact that we’re saving trees by going electronic. It seems like each week, we discover new ways to take advantage of our digital signage.”

The chain is using NEC’s own content management software platform. It’s free and has its limitations, but for what this grocer is doing, it’s likely all they need.

There’s nothing remarkable about this project. But it shows how when an end-user thinks through what is trying to be achieved, and ignores the many stupid executions in the marketplace, it can deploy a project and produce content that controls costs and actually drives objectives and results.

You can argue the ugliness and sightline compromises of screens hanging from sticks, but there’s enough of them to be visually dominant, and some actual thought was put into where they’re located and what they’re for.

I like.

  1. '@virtualCableTV says:

    This –is– impressive for a small city with small thinkers that wants to look big really, really bad but locals know from experience the locale generally hates technology and the smart people who make it happen unless it can be poured out of a beer can with their Packer logo on it.

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