Walmart is pushing further into in-store retail media as it looks to leverage its biggest advantage over retail media juggernaut Amazon — its brick-and-mortar footprint.
Walmart already offers a number of in-store activations for advertisers, including TV walls, self-checkout ads and integrated marketing opportunities, and now the retailer is beta testing the addition of product demos and ad placements on Walmart Radio, the retailer’s in-store audio feed.
“We know brands crave omni solutions to create those customer connections across digital and physical experiences, meeting customers throughout the shopping journey, including as close to the point of purchase as possible,” said Whitney Cooper, Head of Omnichannel Transformation at Walmart Connect (Walmart’s retail media network) in a blog post. “The next frontier of retail media is in-store experiences, and it’s one we’re excited to chart.”
While offering product samples and demos is not new to retail or Walmart, Walmart Connect is now looking to bring those experiences “in-house” and scale them across the U.S. by allowing brands to integrate demos into their larger Walmart Connect campaigns.
Walmart piloted the program in April across 25 stores and is now offering demos Friday through Sunday at more than 120 stores, with the aim of expanding to 1,000 by the end of 2023. The company is testing how to bridge the digital-physical divide with these demos, for example by pairing a demo cart with QR codes that link back to a curated Walmart.com landing page “so customers can find inspiration and shop their list all in one spot,” said Cooper.
The company also has begun introducing ad spots on the Walmart Radio Network, marking the first time advertisers have had access to this medium. Suppliers can purchase audio ads by region or by store so they can target key markets.
Cooper said a key focus with all these new offerings is ensuring they are valuable to both advertisers and customers. “At the store level, we are being very deliberate with our approach,” she said. “Walmart Connect’s focus isn’t just on what we can do with Walmart’s physical footprint, but what experiences we can create that are additive and relevant to our customers, to help them save time and money, and in turn can create meaningful connections between our customers and the brands that work with us.”
While Amazon still dominates U.S. retail media, capturing 77% percent of the market according to Insider Intelligence, other retailers’ brick-and-mortar footprint gives them a huge advantage as retail media increasingly expands beyond the internet and into physical retail, where Amazon has a much smaller presence.
According to Walmart’s internal data, 90% of U.S. households shop with them every year, and its retail media offering is proving popular with CPG brands. While 77% of CPG brands work with Amazon, 56% also work with Walmart Connect, according to Merkle, and that number will likely grow as Walmart continues to find ways to leverage its stores.
“Smart marketers are looking to run full-funnel marketing and advertising campaigns, so everything from TV and brand awareness campaigns all the way through to the end of the path to purchase, which is the store — the last mile of advertising, so to say,” said Andrew Lipsman, Principal Analyst for Retail and Ecommerce at Insider Intelligence in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.
Don’t miss the chance to take a deeper dive into the future of retail media and hear from Insider Intelligence’s Lipsman, as well as retail media executives from Dollar General, Lowe’s, Johnson & Johnson and more at the Retail Innovation Conference and Expo June 13-15.