Saturday, February 10, 2007

MediaCart aims to bring multimedia, interactivity to shopping carts

MediaCart, the latest venture that aims to bring the lowly shopping cart into the 21st century, has announced the start of real-world trials of its interactive shopping cart technology, and claims it has "generated interest" from the nation's top 10 retailers. Of course, interest doesn't pay the bills, and Google is always ready to remind us about the numerous failures for this kind of project, however for some reason Advertising Age, a publication not exactly famous for their love of in-store media, seems to think that MediaCart has "cracked the code" and will be successful in its endeavors. The system uses a video screen at the front of the cart, where it's impossible to miss, unless you really over-load your cart. To promote acceptance, the system promotes a variety of "smart shopping" features, using navigation buttons on the cart's handle to let the user access features, promotions and coupons, and even activate a self-scanning feature that can dramatically speed up the checkout process when properly used. As the Advertising Age story also notes, the system integrates with loyalty programs that provide users with even more valuable information and offers in exchange for some personal and shopping information:
About 80% of MediaCart features will work without using individual consumer data, Mr. Carpenter said. That could overcome a sticking point not only for privacy advocates, with whom he said MediaCart has been in contact, but also for such retail giants as Wal-Mart Stores, Target and Walgreens, which don't have loyalty programs.

But the company concedes that at retailers with loyalty programs, shoppers will probably have to swipe their ID cards to benefit from promotional offers or special features such as downloading shopping lists from their computers or uploading recipes from the carts to their computers.
Whether MediaCart will be the one that makes it, or whether it will go the way of many other attempts to enable shopping carts with advanced technology remains to be seen. But obviously there's a lot that needs to be done before a company goes from "a few pilots" to long-term relationships with major retailers. So I say, good luck, MediaCart! If your predecessors were any indication, you may need it.

Past articles about this sort of thing include:
Giant experiments with grocery store of the future
Group suggests using shopping-cart kiosks...
Another article on the Shopping Buddy Kiosk

Tags: MediaCart, Shopping Buddy, Cuesol, shopping cart, in-store media, retail media


Anonymous said...

Any word on how the tests have gone?

Bill Gerba said...

I've heard some anecdotal comments from people who absolutely love them and cite them as a big time saver (especially the online shopping list). However, I haven't seen any hard data, nor have I heard about expansion plans for any of the trial networks. You might want to give the folks at MediaCart a call to see if they have data they're willing to share.

I know that IBM's somewhat similar "Shopping Buddy" had some high-profile trials but never really got off the ground, so I'm not feeling very hopeful, unfortunately.