Cooler Screens, the company that turns the doors of grocery coolers and freezers into full-motion display screens, is expanding outside of Chicago to more stores across the U.S. AdWeek first reported the news last week, but since we are halfway through the year, the story seemed like a good opportunity to check in on one of my food tech predictions for 2021.
Back in December of 2020 I predicted that grocery and convenience stores would become more like Vegas, thanks to big, bright screens from companies like Cooler Screens and AWM Smart Shelf. Cooler Screens raised $80 million from the likes of Verizon Ventures and Microsoft in October of 2020 and at that time had its technology up and running in 50 Walgreens stores across the Chicago area.
Cooler Screens had planned on rolling out its screens to 1,400 Walgreens this year, but as the company told AdWeek, those expansion plans were delayed because of pandemic-related production issues. Having said that, the company has already expanded its presence to 100 stores across a number of different U.S. cities. In addition to Walmart, Cooler Screens has also signed up CVS and Kroger as customers. With the expansions, Cooler Screens anticipates 50 million shoppers will engage with its screens by early August.
The appeal of technology like Cooler Screens and AWM Smart Shelf is pretty straightforward. These screens and displays turn otherwise dead real estate into dynamic ad spaces. Why have a plain ole see through glass cooler door when you could display what’s inside on a screen alongside sales promotions, upselling on complementary items (get a pizza with that soda!), and full-motion ads that can generate additional revenue?
While 50 million shoppers is a lot of eyeballs, given Cooler Screens’ delay, I don’t think our grocery and drug stores will become the flashing, Vegas-like showrooms as I had predicted. I still believe this technology will continue to proliferate, but I might have to bump my prediction timeline to 2022.