Thousands of retail-focused professionals flooded Chicago last week (along with some unexpected rain) for 2023’s Retail Innovation Conference & Expo to discuss the latest and greatest in retail innovation. Some of the hot topics for this year’s conference included retail media, omnichannel experiences, customer and employee loyalty, and creating immersive experiences for customers across all channels. Among the attendees was Rockbot’s CEO and Co-Founder, Garrett Dodge, who hosted a session alongside Walmart’s Senior Manager of Digital Strategy, Bo Woloszyn, where they discussed Walmart's history of building an engaging in-store experience and how a partnership with Rockbot helped them take it to the next level.
The talk began with Bo sharing the significant impact radio has on retailers. “In-store radio is one of the most powerful ways to communicate with your customers, members, and Associates to drive the goals of your brand,” remarked Bo. He went on to discuss how Walmart’s partnership with Rockbot began with a search to find a technologically strong media provider that could stream the only live retail radio program in the country, Walmart Radio, as well as control music programming, audio messaging, and serve ads.
To start, Rockbot helped the brands find signature sounds for their music across different North American demographics to play on Walmart Radio. According to Bo, the reaction to this was overwhelmingly positive among customers and Associates alike. While Rockbot helps Walmart enhance its in-store music, the biggest takeaways from Bo and Garrett’s talk center around the benefits of audio messaging.
Walmart Radio produces 22 hours of live programming every week curated for Walmart and Sam’s Club members, customers, and Associates. Among this programming is content developed specifically for the brands’ Overnight Associates to help them stay energized and engaged while working through the night. Rockbot enables Walmart to target specific messaging and programming that only plays during the Overnight Associate shifts, creating content developed especially for them.
In advance of the 2022 holiday season, Walmart invited store leads to record customized audio messages for their locations with holiday-related themes specific to their stores or communities. Rockbot’s location targeting functionality gave each store the ability to play its own customized message during the holiday season, allowing for a more personalized experience for customers, members, and Associates at each location.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States government required certain businesses and districts to play safety messages. Walmart and Sam’s Club leveraged Rockbot Audio Messaging to record and upload these messages to play at their designated locations. Rockbot also enabled the brands to target the messaging to specific stores so that locations that did not require the messaging did not play it. Similarly, Rockbot empowers the brands to target timely messaging about inclement weather, such as hurricanes, to impacted locations, updating customers, members, and Associates with important safety information.
Advertising Capabilities and Targeting
Walmart started running monetized ads in their audio messaging this past year with significant success. According to Bo, the return on in-store audio messaging ads is impactful because they play throughout the entire store to a captive audience, whereas that same customer may miss other advertising within the store because they didn’t travel past it. “As an omnichannel retailer, we’re innovating the ways Walmart Connect empowers our suppliers and our partners to reach our audience. The Walmart Radio platform will enable advertisers to reach the full footprint of specific brands, demographics, and dayparts through our audio ad units and our live DJ reads,” commented Bo. Rockbot helps the brands understand the demographics of each store location so that targeted ads play in the right place at the right time.
Rockbot features real-time updates for both music and audio messaging, which is a huge plus for Walmart and Sam’s Club. Changes to messages and music can be made regionally or by store in seconds. The Rockbot App also gives approved regional, district, or corporate managers the ability to make these changes from anywhere.
Rockbot and Walmart/Sam’s Club plan on growing our partnership to help build on an innovative retail media experience that enhances both in-store and in-club environments, communicates with Associates, and enables retail media at scale.
If you are looking to unify your in-store media into a centralized platform and deliver unique brand experiences, let’s get in touch.