TECHNOLOGY

Video game retailer tunes in ‘GameStop TV’

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

GameStop is giving its customers a new reason to stop by and hang out.

The video game retailer has upgraded its in-store digital video network. Through a partnership with Right Media Solutions (RMS), the company is displaying new content and advertising programming on Commercial Chromebox media players at more than 3,800 GameStop locations.

Called GameStop TV, the programming features product promotions, game previews, developer interviews and other customized content, as well as advertising. All content is targeted to the millions of video game enthusiasts that visit GameStop each month, according to the company.

GameStop piloted the program in 25 initial locations, which was expanded to 300 locations. Based on positive results of both programs, the RMS team was able to complete the full network roll out in just over seven weeks.

Beyond the current content the players display, the hardware can also integrate HTML5 content, as well as onboard Eddystone Beacons. These features can scale to support advancements in digital signage technology and consumer attribution.

“GameStop is gaining more brand traction every year, and part of our success is creating a fun, exciting store environment where our customers like to hang out,” said Mark Qualls, VP of operations at GameStop. “The digital GameStop TV network will add a new dimension of excitement and community to our locations, while at the same time providing excellent opportunities for advertisers.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Drug store giant tests Prime-like membership program

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

CVS Pharmacy is making a defensive move as Amazon pushes onto its turf.

The drug store retailer announced it has launched a pilot membership rewards program, called CarePass, in the Greater Boston area. An addition to CVS’ existing ExtraCare rewards program, the new program offers in-store and online perks, including free delivery on most medications and purchases, access to a 24/7 pharmacist hot line, and 20% off all CVS Health branded items.

Similar to Amazon Prime, the new CVS program comes with a membership fee. CVS is charging CarePass members $5 a month, or $48 a year. Participants also receive a monthly $10 CarePass promotional reward that can be used towards nearly all purchases in-store and online.

Customers can enroll in the program at more than 350 participating CVS Pharmacy locations throughout Greater Boston or online. Eligible customers must have an active CVS ExtraCare Rewards loyalty card to participate.

CVS is complementing the new program with more than 20 pop-up events that will feature branded trucks and cars across the area, including at Boston’s Government Center and select CVS Pharmacy locations.

“We are committed to designing and testing innovative programs that meet our customers’ health needs whenever, wherever and however they want,” says Kevin Hourican, executive VP, CVS Health and president, CVS Pharmacy. “The CarePass pilot program in Boston offers our customers an additional level of benefits and services that make it easy to save time, save money and receive access to on-demand pharmacy care.”

This is CVS’ newest move to drive customer loyalty, especially as Amazon continues to steadily expand into the health-care and pharmaceutical business. Most recently, the online giant announced it is acquiring PillPack, an online pharmacy that offers pre-sorted doses of medications and home delivery.

To further expand its own reach in the marketplace, CVS Health (CVS Pharmacy’s parent company) is acquiring health insurer Aetna. The $69 billion deal is expected to close in the early part of the fourth quarter of 2018.

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TECHNOLOGY

Albertsons to test robotic pick system for online orders

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A supermarket giant is going to deploy artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify and automate online orders picked at store-level

During a presentation at Groceryshop 2018 in Las Vegas, Narayan Iyengar, senior VP digital and e-commerce for Albertsons Cos., announced the chain is partnering with Takeoff Technologies to test the value of a “micro-fulfillment center” concept supported by Takeoff’s AI capabilities. The “hyper-local” automated center, which will be piloted in an existing store early in 2019, is designed to leverage Albertsons’ existing supply chain and store footprint. The system also has the agility to pick various types of products.

Here’s how the concept works: As a customer enters their order using Albertsons’ existing e-commerce interface, the order will be delivered to the new automated system. Takeoff’s solution will then take over the fulfillment process.  Its artificial intelligence-enabled robots and system of totes and conveyors can collect items for online grocery orders in minutes, at a fraction of the speed and cost of manual-picking processes., with the items delivered to an Albertsons employee, who prepares the order for the customer.

Albertsons said it expects the concept to greatly reduce the amount of time necessary for individual customer orders to be processed. The pilot also makes Albertsons the first national grocer to implement an automated e-commerce fulfillment center, according to the company.

“Investing in e-commerce directly benefits our customers, and anything that we can do to simplify their grocery shopping experience to save valuable time is a win,” said Iyengar. “While our partnership with Takeoff Technologies will streamline e-commerce fulfillment and improve our efficiencies, we’re excited that Takeoff’s AI solution will make it even easier for customers to get their groceries how and when they want.”

This is Albertsons’ latest move to bolster its e-commerce offering. Earlier this year, the supermarket giant launched Albertsons Performance Media, a digital media capability designed to improve the digital advertising performance of its CPG brand partners.

In addition, the company opened its digital marketplace — a service that enables customers to purchase items online directly from manufacturers — to outside vendors.  Albertsons also recently joined forces with driver service Instacart, a move to offer same-day delivery of online orders to customers in as little as an hour. The grocer planned to make the service available in more than 1,800 of Albertsons’ banners across the country by mid-2018.

The company was also the first national grocery retailer to acquire a prepared-meals company. The supermarket chain acquired online meal company Plated last fall.

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