woman shopping online

Reinventing real-world retail

How physical stores can create media magic

We’re on the cusp of a true retailing revolution, one powered by a sense of urgency.

Online shopping is now the world’s biggest mass-participation sport. Around 2.1 billion people globally are buying from their computer or, more likely, their smartphone.

In 2020, ecommerce sales worldwide topped US$4.28 trillion and they’re forecast to hit $5.4 trillion in 2022. Now that consumers have a choice of where and how to shop, real-world retail needs to reinvent itself, and fast.

This is widely seen as the retail sector’s greatest ever challenge. But it’s also a tremendous opportunity. What if stores could bring value to a business – and their supplier brands – in ways other than distributing goods? What if there could be new revenue streams? What if stores were less about shifting stock and more about warming hearts and changing minds?

The store as a medium turns surfaces in physical stores into places where shoppers engage with brand communications, services and exciting new experiences – all things they can’t do in the same way via ecommerce.

It’s where the Internet of Things meets programmatic advertising, machine learning and big data analytics – and becomes something very personal and powerful for retailers, brands and consumers.

In-store displays can adjust the brand messages they present so they are relevant to the individuals who are nearest to them.

In ways that protect consumer privacy, screens can change the content they offer based on variables such as location, time of day, the weather – and even make changes depending on shoppers’ facial expressions. That means, at a basic level, beer and soft drink ads in the hours ahead of a local football final, perhaps, or suggestions for quick family meals when the after-school shoppers come by.

More advanced level data inputs (like weather) can combine with data collected via in-store sensors (like the approximate age of a nearby shopper). And that combines with retailers’ first-party data – real-time sales information from their physical and online stores.

Then all this data, some algorithm based magic and human insight are combined to ensure in-store media is highly relevant to individual shoppers, driving excitement and sales.

By using the store as a medium, physical retail can play a unique role in people’s lives, making shopping personal, desirable, informative and satisfying, as well as profitable for retailers and brands.

For more insights and analysis download BAV’s Store as a Medium


published on

06 June 2022


Experience Commerce

Related Topics

Ecommerce Tech & Digital Services Retail

More in Experience

White text reading 'AI-driven audio description' with WPP and Microsoft logos on a blue and purple background

Let’s add audio for visually impaired audiences

How to make advertising more accessible for visually impaired audiences

Path of flowers the colour of Peach Fuzz, Pantone Color of the Year 2024

The Future 100: wellbeing, humanity, emotion and tech

This annual trend spotter – by WPP’s VML – gives us the context for the new normal for marketing in 2024.

Red and turquoise graphic with footballs and icons

Activating sports events – the ultimate balancing act

WPP Sports Practice takes a look at the art of timing for sports event activation