Progressive Grocer - December 2008 - (Page 66)

Technology How in-store systems work DIY displays Despairing of finding a digital TV vendor that could meet his needs, this grocer became his own. By Joseph Tarnowski H e hates it, but Jake Myers, owner of Everybody’s Supermarkets in Raymond, Wash., fully realizes he lives in a digital world, and so must his stores. “I have an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old, and they don’t communicate verbally,” he explains. “But they can text-message faster than anybody. This new world is a technology world. Even the older generations use it. We use the Internet. We use e-mail, which I hate. But the younger generation, they are all connected.” was supplier funding to cover equipment and service costs. He got the idea at a trade event, when a produce broker offered to buy him a screen if he ran programming—any type of programming he wanted—that would educate shoppers about produce. Myers approached his own suppliers with the model, and they promptly stepped up with financial support. “We carry Certified Black Angus from Tyson IBP out of Washington state,” he says. “They gave me $1,000 for each store’s meat department, and signed a one-year contract for me to put up a 35-inch screen in each, to educate shoppers about Star Ranch Black Angus meat.” Local sourcing So even in the one-streetlight towns where he operates, Myers decided to plug into that generation by going digital himself, with flat-panel screens throughout his stores. But he also decided quickly against using any of the existing in-store TV networks operating in the space today, because he considered their services too inflexible and/or too pricey. “Every retailer I’ve talked to who has looked at the network offering has said ‘no’ to it,” notes Myers. “The problem with a network is, if you set one up in your store, you’re going to have the same story on all of your TVs. There are a couple of companies that will split up the programming, but they are really expensive. For a country grocer like us, with two stores and about $15 million a year, we could never afford that. Plus you lose flexibility in your programming. You lose the ability to work with local vendors.” Myers wanted to find a system like his new pointof-sale system, which was designed specifically with the particular needs of independents in mind, but couldn’t find any digital marketing solution providers that fit the bill—so he began building his own. One thing he did borrow from the network model 66 • Progressive Grocer • December 2008 Almost everything Myers needed to install the systems came from the local Costco. His technology reseller, Seattle-based InStore Technology ( went to the warehouse club and bought 37-inch Vizio monitors. “They cost just over $500,” he notes. “They also have a mount for it. The system is run by an inexpensive driver—actuA H E A D O F W H AT ’ S N E X T ally a small PC—and they cost about $280.” Myers installed one of these units at the entrance of each store. Part of the display is a steady feed from security cameras—he wants people in the stores to know they’re being watched. He uses the screen-within-a-screen functionality to display several images at once, such as programming about the company and its employees, juxtaposed with images of the company’s logo and slogans such as “Guaranteed Quality” or “Hometown Pride.” To develop programming, Myers works with the owner of a local newspaper, who uses video-editing software to create the clips that Myers uploads to the store PCs. From those PCs, he can orchestrate content on all of the stores’ digital displays. “The system is wireless, so we can go to our PC in the store; pull up camera 1, or 2, or 3; and can upload programming wirelessly to that little PC that controls the camera,” says Myers. “And we have complete control over programming.” Indeed, Myers maintains control over which content his screens display and when, even in the case of sponsored digital content, and vendors are still lining up to sponsor his screens for relevant departments or categories. Myers even developed a second option: a 15-inch screen sponsored for $500 a year. The sponsored display model works so well that the grocer has extended it to other businesses. “I own two Subway franchises, each in a small town, and I’ve struck up agreements with local businesses where I’m buying them displays that will include Subway advertising.” With two supermarkets, two QSRs, a shopping center, and a RadioShack to run, the only challenge Myers faces with his digital display program is finding the time to roll it out. Maybe he needs to launch his own digital network to handle the task. Nonfoods/Tech Editor Joseph Tarnowski can be reached at

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Progressive Grocer - December 2008

Progressive Grocer - December 2008
Front End: Onstead Becomes Interim Bi-Lo C.E.O.
Nielsen’s Shelf Stoppers/Spotlight: Shelfstable Juices/Vegetable Juices and Drinks
Market Snapshot: .Seattle-Tacoma,Wash
Retailer of the Year: Taking the lead
Lempert Report: Obama Prepares to Tackle Food Industry Issues
Independents Report: What Grocers Need to Know About Market Day
Consumer Research: Reason for Relevance
Shopper Culture: Reimagining Convenience Foods
Wake-up Call: The Ballad of The Egg Man
Eggs: A Kinder, Gentler Egg
Shelf-Stable Juice: Making a Splash
Post-PMA Show Analysis: High Yield
Niche Pork: Go Whole Hog for Local
Pharmacy: Chronic Customer Service
Technology: A Small-Town Grocer Discovers Digital DIY
Equipment Innovations
What’s Next: Editors’ Picks for Innovative Products

Progressive Grocer - December 2008