Supermarket Treasure Hunt

STI Group display ‘speaks’ to shoppers via smartphone

Lauterbach, 2015-09-28 – Cutting-edge technologies have the power to transform retail promotions and influence shopper behaviours. By integrating beacons – small transmitters that send messages to smartphones – stores can redefine the whole shopping experience. At Smart Labelling, a special exhibition at FachPack in Nuremberg, STI Group and The Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics will demonstrate how digital customer engagement can be leveraged at the point of sale.

On her way home from university, Isabelle stops at her favourite supermarket to stock up her fridge for the weekend. She always carries her smartphone with her. One of the many apps on her phone is from this retailer and it informs customers about special offers and promotions.

On her way home from university, Isabelle stops at her favourite supermarket to stock up her fridge for the weekend. She always carries her smartphone with her. One of the many apps on her phone is from this retailer and it informs customers about special offers and promotions.

As Isabelle enters the store, a message instantly appears on her phone. ‘Go get your energy kick!’ it says, piquing her curiosity. But instead of giving further details, the app invites her to take part in a game – an in-store treasure hunt. If Isabelle finds the display offering the energy drink, she gets a discount plus the chance to win a stuntman action weekend in Berlin. Energy drinks were not really on her shopping list, but this promotion is hard to resist - especially as her smartphone is already giving her clues about the display’s location. Playing the familiar game of ‘hot or cold’ to indicate whether she is heading towards or away from the display, Isabelle’s smartphone lets her have more fun than usual while doing her grocery shopping.  

When she is just one metre from the display, her phone receives a QR code and the message: ‘STImulate energy drink, the coolest kick of your day! Try now for a special price – € 0.69 instead of € 0.99, only for today. Just redeem this coupon at the checkout.’ Isabelle is also offered a chance to win a stuntman action weekend in Berlin by uploading her personal ‘kickstart moment’ with STImulate on Facebook. Keen to make a saving, Isabelle takes three cans of STImulate from the secondary display and continues her shopping.

At the checkout, she shows her smartphone’s QR code and the total discount of € 0.90 is deducted directly from her till receipt.

Hidden beacon

The treasure hunt is made possible thanks to a beacon attached to the Chep pallet underneath the display, transforming a block of plastic into an interactive medium.

Beacons are small transmitters that send a continuous signal, using Bluetooth Low Energy technology (BLE). Their transmission range can be set anywhere between 0.30 and 100 metres. Any smartphone that supports BLE will receive the signal when it is in range.

Pallets with built-in beacons are not available in stores yet, but this could soon change. The Fraunhofer Institute has found a way to permanently fix beacons into Chep pallets’ lock slots.

Beacons are relatively expensive, at around 20-30 euros each, so we realised they were unlikely to be used as a disposable item in a corrugate display,’ says Philipp Wrycza of the Fraunhofer Institute in Dortmund. ‘But if part of the Chep pallet pool were fitted with beacons in future, brand owners and retailers could directly rent pallets with these integrated beacons.’

When these interactive pallets return to the pool, each beacon’s function can be checked and its content deleted, ready for a new promotion to be uploaded. This is much more cost-effective than field installations, which carry higher servicing and maintenance costs.

Chep is currently working on a beacon technology field test, slated for the beginning of 2016. 

Interactive cross-channel promotions without the price tag

‘During our collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute we realised that this idea could work brilliantly for many of our customers, as our display solutions are often delivered on pallets.

This would also make interactive, cross-channel promotions possible for a relatively low cost,’ says Claudia Rivinius, marketing director at STI Group.

The cutting edge display on show at FachPack – developed by STI Group experts for the company’s own brand, STImulate – stands out for its unusual shape and attractive design, but creates a far bigger impact through its ability to directly engage shoppers.

‘What’s important is that the beacon information is accessed via an app that many users already have on their smartphones. If consumer willingness to use this technology follows the trend in a similarly positive way to our neighbouring European countries, this sort of promotion has massive potential; it plays perfectly to the curiosity and fun-loving nature of many shoppers,’ says Rivinius.

The app used to demonstrate the technology at FachPack has been devised by the Fraunhofer Institute development team. It permits the distance between smartphone and beacon to be calculated very precisely, ensuring optimal shopper guidance.

Treasure hunts and games aside, beacons in secondary displays can also be used to provide additional brand, product and pricing information to shoppers, or details of special instore events.