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LONDON, Ontario -- EK3 Technologies Inc., a nearly 10-year-old digital merchandising company born out of the University of Western Ontario, was selected to form an exclusive five-year global partnership with gas pump manufacturer Dresser Wayne, where EK3 digital signage will be installed on Dresser Wayne gas pumps in 115 countries.
"Dresser Wayne and EK3 has built a global platform, we have set the benchmark for at-the-pump and inside the convenience store digital signage," Nick Prigioniero, president and CEO of EK3, told CSNews Online. "It's the only partnership that offers a total solution from the forecourt to inside the c-store."
The signage, known as "narrowcasting," uses data from retailers to customize streaming video displays imbedded in the gasoline pump or in-store, reaching customers at point-of-purchase. Using algorithms to control the system, content can be displayed that is relevant to a contextual situation, Prigioniero said. For example, if the system is alerted that the weather has changed (a temperature increase) -- the content displayed will as well (promote cold drinks).
The program also ties into the location’s inventory and product's shelf life. If the inventory on an item falls, the program will stop promoting it on the display. Similarly, if a product’s shelf life is approaching, the system will increase the promotion to prevent waste from expired goods, he explained.
In addition, through the partnership, station owners of any size can customize content through the program's Web-based software, offer printable coupons and create day part promotions such as coffee and breakfast foods in the morning, and soft drinks and snacks in the afternoon. All content is available and created through EK3’s media services division, said Prigioniero.
The digital signage also provides local advertising opportunities for station operators who are looking for an alternative form of ROI. "We have a division that will create different ROI by helping [retailers] advertise their brands on dispensers, or use the network as local advertising for other businesses," he said.
The program is available with Dresser Wayne's Ovation fuel dispensers, and ties into the company's current point-of-sale (POS), to create a turnkey solution for retailers, Prigioniero said.
"Increasing in-store sales and building customer loyalty are primary objectives of our customers around the world," said Neil Thomas, global president of Dresser Wayne. "To help our customers reach those goals, we have signed this global partnership with EK3 Technologies. Together, our technologies offer fuel retailers unmatched electronic merchandising and marketing capabilities."
The U.S. version of EK3's iX Media was unveiled at the NACS Show 2006. At this year's NACS Show, EK3 plans to launch more in-depth systems for retailers, Prigioniero told CSNews Online. In September, the program will be launched in Europe in countries such as Spain, the U.K. and Italy, where retail chains will pilot the system.
The system is already in place in more than 100 BP locations in the U.S. and all six Home Depot Fuel locations.
"Home Depot decided it was important to convert every potential fuel customer into a c-store or big box customer," Marthe Souza, merchant for Home Depot Fuel, told CSNews Online. "Pumping gas is a captive audience, we wanted to make it entertaining, while highlighting an item inside the store, to have a powerful impact."
Benefits the system provides include minimizing signage clutter, the ability to day part, allowing the company to change content on demand and improve execution at the store level.
"I know the Coke promotion is signed at the store, and is not last month's Coke promotion," she explained.
Home Depot Fuel uses two stages of promotion at the pump. The first -- the prefueling stage -- greets a customer and walks them through the transaction process.
"We also have a spot that asks whether you want a car wash. The nice thing about it, its not just words, it communicates visually with customers," she said, explaining that pictures of a large truck and a small car tell customer that no matter the size of their car, it will fit through the car wash.
Then, when the pump begins pumping gasoline, it begins the fueling playlist, which primarily runs c-store products, but will soon start featuring items from the company's big box stores, she said.
Content such as the company's featured coffee of the month, a combo pizza wedge with a fountain soda, or a beer being poured in a glass, all are meant to evoke both an emotional feeling as well as present a price point, Souza said.
The digital signage is on every pump at Home Depot Fuel locations, and inside five of the six stores. This is also where the primary changes have taken place since the program was installed at the first store in February 2006.
"When we first opened we only had screens at the dispensers, then we put one at the checkout, then over the cooler doors, the hot food and coffee, then the grab-and-go section," she said. "We're able to connect the outside and inside merchandising, and the promotions that are out at the pump are easily integrated inside the store."
In addition, the content Home Depot Fuel uses has been updated. "From a content perspective, it was plain Jane. We've gotten much more creative -- [EK3] has done video shoots with us ... to evoke more emotion than what we started with."