- Walgreens is set to roll-out video-enabled displays from Cooler Screens in 2,500 stores in 2021.
- The IoT-enabled devices give brands the opportunity to advertise at the point of sale – reaching roughly a Super Bowl sized audience each month, according to CEO Arsen Avakian.
- And companies that use the devices can get more information on sales to inform inventory levels and future marketing campaigns.
- "We are bringing the best of what consumers love about shopping online into the brick-and-mortar world," Avakian told Business Insider.
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At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, consumers rushed out to retailers to stock-up on the essential items.
Now several months into the pandemic, the demand remains robust. And that's creating new opportunities for companies like Walgreens to invest in digital capabilities to better serve customers — and ultimately boost sales.
For example, the drug store is set to roll-out new, internet-enabled digital advertising screens in the freezer section of 2,500 stores in 2021. Cooler Screens, the startup providing the technology, is currently in 60 stores and is closing a number of successful pilot projects with other customers, according to CEO Arsen Avakian. It's valued at $500 million, according to the company.
And with the Walgreens deal, he says brands will regularly be able to reach a Super Bowl-size audience on the startup's displays. "Walgreens single-handedly will have nearly 70-to-80 million consumers interacting with Cooler Screens on a monthly basis," Avakian told Business Insider.
That will give the company immense data to help plan future inventory and marketing promotions, he added. It also allows the retailers to inject more advertising opportunities into their stores to bolster revenues.
Bringing online to brick-and-mortar
The displays act somewhat like a real-world webpage. So instead of glass windows in the freezer aisle that show the products sitting on the shelf, the tech from can show what is available behind the door, as well as advertising, recipes, nutritional facts, and other information related to those items.
And using so-called "Internet of Things" — referring to the technology that relies on sensors to connect devices to the cloud — coupled with artificial intelligence, the system can also quickly identify when products are out-of-stock.
"We are bringing the best of what consumers love about shopping online into the brick-and-mortar world," Avakian said. And "we can give the brands very thoughtful opportunities to connect with native advertising opportunities — that are contextually relevant for the consumer — to promote their brand or product right at the point-of-sale."
Newer screens will also be outfitted with voice-activation, meaning customers can ask the system to display specific information — like how many calories in one can of Lipton Iced Tea. And consumers will soon be able to scan their phones on the door and access the same content, as well as pay for their products without going to checkout.
"A lot of these interesting features that we had on our roadmap that were going to come anyways, we put them ahead because contactless interaction becomes very important," Avakian said.
While the deal with Walgreens was announced before the outbreak, the coronavirus is actually leading to a surge in interest in Cooler Screens. Business quadrupled between February and August, according to Avakian, and there are over 120 brands that are advertising on the displays.
When coronavirus hit, for example, Chobani doubled its spend with Cooler Screens and shifted its messaging to quickly run advertisements that highlighted the role the company plays in local communities.
Alongside being able to reach consumers right before they make a purchase, Avakian says the company's platform also allows brands to act quickly and better control where their message appears.
Top firms like Walmart and McDonald's, for example, pulled ads from Facebook after the social media giant received backlash for its stance on fact-checking posts from President Trump.
And while campaigns on Facebook and Google can be incredibly tailored to specific customers, Avakian argued that Cooler Shields puts brands right in front of the consumer at the most critical juncture: when they're actually grabbing the product.
Brands "need to compete for their attention to try within those few seconds to shift their minds," he added.
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