January 14, 2008

Microsoft and MediaCart Improve Shopping Experience

Grocery shoppers will soon have a new way to find, scan and pay for purchases without waiting in long checkout lines.

Microsoft Corp., and MediaCart Holdings Inc., based in Plano, TX, have spent the past four years developing a grocery-store mounted console that will both assist shoppers and allow advertisers to reach potential customers based on past purchases and location within the store.  

Customers will save time and money with MediaCart-equipped shopping carts by performing comparative price checks, locating products in the store, viewing store specials in aisle as they shop, viewing recipes and nutritional information, and receiving expedited checkout.

The system uses a technology called radio-frequency identification (RFID), which pinpoints and tracks a shopper's cart location within the store.  Based on this location, the system can alert customers to information that may be of interest.  For example, as a customer enters the cookie aisle the console could display a 50-cent coupon for Oreos.  

Wakefern Food Corp. will pilot MediaCart in its East Coast ShopRite stores during the second half of this year.  Customers with a loyalty card will be able to enter their shopping lists from home on to the ShopRite website.   When shoppers arrive at the store and swipe their loyalty card, the Mediacart will display the list, along with ads and promotional offers based on past purchases and previously saved lists.  As customers shop, scanning their items and placing them in the cart, the console provides a running price total and checks the items off the list.    

The MediaCart technology will also provide advertisers with reporting and analytics capabilities to assess performance of the ads in the stores.  This will allow advertisers to see which commercials or coupon offers are most effective.  

"This is not necessarily about bombarding consumers, about targeting advertising," Scott Ferris, general manager of Microsoft's Advertiser and Publisher Solutions group, told Associated Press.  "It's about also making the shopping experience better for the consumer."

Microsoft and MediaCart announced the new system and its upcoming pilot today at the National Retail Federation's 97th Annual Convention & Expo.


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Microsoft Corp.

MediaCart Holdings Inc.