Following two years and $10 million in research and development, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. this week launched an in-store Internet Protocol TV network designed to offer a targeted merchandising program and measure customer response. The retailer expects the Walmart Smart Network to have more than 27,000 networked TV screens in more than 2,700 stores by early 2010.
“We’ve built a network tailored to the way consumers shop our stores-delivering helpful, custom, content closest to the point of decision-that helps them shop smarter,” says Stephen Quinn, chief marketing officer, Wal-mart Stores, U.S. “The Smart Network is intelligent too, because every screen and every message has a purpose and we will be analyzing point-of-sale data on an ongoing basis to deliver a shopper-centric communications platform.”
Wal-Mart is deploying several network screens per store, including welcome screens near store entrances; category screens in frequently visited departments like grocery, health-and-beauty, and consumer electronics; and several screens positioned at the end of shopping aisles. Headquarters-based management will be able to control messages over the network by store, by screen, by day and by time of day.
The network is being developed with three technology partners. Thomson’s Premier Retail Networks Inc. is providing the network operations, advertising sales and HDTV programming. DS-IQ, a provider of analytics and digital marketing applications for in-store media networks, is supplying the response measurement, analytics and message optimization technologies. Studio2, a new company that develops digital content targeting consumers, is involved in developing and testing the Walmart Smart Network.
Kim Miller, vice president of marketing at Kellogg Co., a major supplier of cereal and other products to Wal-Mart, says the Walmart Smart Network has produced positive results during early test phases.
"One of the biggest challenges as an advertiser is really understanding your target audience in such a way that you know the best place to connect them with your message so that it can have the most impact," Miller says. "Moving forward, advertising at the point of sale will become increasingly important to win the market. The results we`ve seen during tests of the new Walmart Smart Network have been impressive."