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How mobile enhances packaging and point of sale at retail

By Gary Schwartz

A modern-day grocery or pharmacy is not a friendly zone for the brand. Gone are the halcyon days of “Leave-it-to-Beaver” when brands worked hand-in-hand with the local store owner to sell stuff. Now many retail chains compete on the shelf with competitive generic brands.

The brand’s product and the retail aisle have been in an adversarial relationship for quite some time. The product sits on the shelf presumptuously hoping for the consumer to recall their catchy jingle, celeb ambassador, or signature packaging with little to no help from the retailer.

Indeed, $20 billion is spent on cardboard and plastic to create end-of-aisle CPG displays. The niche vertical is “contact packaging” and is made up of approximately 2,000 small companies across the United States. Their sole mission in life is making your product “pop” in the store and driving more sales. They are the bling of retail.

Money spent on end-of-aisle display in retail stores is set to grow to $50 billion over the next few years because manufacturers are behind the eight ball. This is mainly in the grocery, pharmaceutical, games, electronics and hardware verticals.

How can these brands engage the customer and drive sales more effectively without the cost of cardboard, plastic and detailing?

Find your footing
New Balance is a success story.

Instead of letting its shoes sit passively in the shoe store the footwear maker proactively tags them with a call-to-action keyword. Send an SMS text message and instantly you are in a one-to-one SMS relationship with a sales expert:

“Runners with normal to high arches appreciate the comfort & support of Ortholite(R) foam and Stability Web(R). Try them on and reply “NEXT”

Not only is this a more effective in-store sales process for New Balance, it also allows the brand to engage the consumer in a post-store mobile survey guiding a dialogue with the consumer whether or not they bought the product:

“Why did you purchase New Balance? [Multiple choice: Fit/Comfort, Style, Price, Other]”

Coca-Cola has taken this in-store strategy to the next level. The soft drinks giant successfully turned its Classic Coke bottle into a mini-retail environment to run affinity direct to consumer programs. Coca-Cola prints a unique PIN under the bottle cap which acts as “proof of purchase.”

Coca-Cola’s program works as an affinity channel in any store allowing the consumer to text PINs to collect Coke coinage. The consumers diligently work to accumulate coinage to redeem against tickets and other valued swag.

The company has now launched a WAP service in certain countries that enhance the mobile functionality and allows the consumer to do more on the run. The brand has committed to this strategy not as a campaign but as a loyalty channel and reaped the reward with tremendous reach and frequency.

But changing packaging is as tedious a strategy as building a Trojan horse and leading it into Troy. After a ten-year of siege there may be other tactics.

One is mobile couponing. However, this is fraught with redemption problems. Market leaders such as Inmar are working to create a digital exchange at point of sale, but tracking mobile tender is difficult.

Solutions such as scannable mobile codes off the phone sound exciting, but the services slow down the aisle and phones drop. Besides, consumers are slow adopters of anything that involves more than one click-to-save.

In many cases these services show high frequency but zero reach.

Brands are creating a new executive role in their organizations responsible for reaching the consumer. This person’ sole job is to circumvent the retailer and start an extra-consumer relationship with the shopper.

Mobile with fizz
So what is working?

Look to such POS vendors as SAP, Oracle and Epicor to take the lead in leveraging their point-of-sale software as a point-of-engagement for sales and mobile CRM.

Instead of focusing on old-world discount couponing, another approach is looking at leveraging incentives at POS to drive sales and engagement.

Just copy what works.

By emulating Coca-Cola’s success on product by placing unique codes on the receipt to redeem at checkout based on the consumer’s basket drives the same affinity goals.

Moreover, by intelligently looking at the consumer basket at tender, PINs can trigger surveys and analytics that are gold to any retailer and consumer packaged goods company.

“Buy my product and check your receipt to win.”

Less cardboard, more commerce!