ShopRite turns to smart carts for customer loyalty, targeted ads

ShopRite grocery stores have teamed up with MediaCart Holdings Inc. and Microsoft to deploy “smart,” ad-serving shopping carts.

“ShopRite has always been one of the players to look at technology and be an early adopter, so when this came along we were asked to partner to test it and to see if it had any merit,” said Karen Meleta, spokesperson for ShopRite. “And we see the opportunity, the benefit to consumers and the benefit to us. Driving the consumer benefit is always key, and some of the early results pointed to the idea that consumers enjoyed it.”

The carts were first rolled out for testing in two New Jersey ShopRites in Spring 2007. These early models featured a console that helped shoppers find, scan and pay for products in the store.

When the carts were returned to MediaCart in October of that year, customer data and feedback provided the impetus to add on-board digital advertising.

The ad-friendly carts returning to the NJ test stores later this year will be strongly tied to the ShopRite loyalty card system. Customers will be able to use their loyalty card number to log into a Web site at home and type in their grocery lists. At the store, the same card can be swiped on a cart to pull up the premade list.

Information stored on the cards will be used to help ShopRite target its on-cart advertising. Past purchases, which are recorded on the loyalty cards, can be mined to see exactly which product should be featured in the ads. Cart ads will also be targeted by location: the carts employ radio frequencies to identify where the shopper is in the store, and then send ads and coupons pertaining to the particular aisle that the shopper walks down.

“There’s a lot of ways to measure the benefit or the return on investment for these carts,” Meleta said. “We can measure increased customer satisfaction. We’re learning how consumers shop, what they respond to, maybe even ideas on how to reorganize the store to fit their shopping patterns.”

She added that ShopeRite’s loyalty card program has been around for a number of years and is constantly being promoted in-store and through direct mail.

ShopeRite is owned by Wakefern Food Corp. There are 200 ShopRite stores located throughout NJ, NY, CT, PA and DE.

MediaCart, Plano, TX, specializes in computerized retail and shopping cart systems.

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