Media-Saturn Innovates With Customer-Facing Technologies

January 16, 2013

PRI explores how the German-based retailer is using digital technologies to enhance its customers' in-store shopping experience.

By Indranil Bagchi, Visual Retail Segment Marketing, Intel Corporation

Platt Retail Institute's Research Article "The Media-Saturn In-Store Digital Experience" provides an in-depth look at the broad range of customer-facing technologies employed by Europe's largest electronics retailer, Media-Saturn-Holding. In a conversation with Ingolf von Wittken, head of Digital POS Concepts at Media-Saturn, PRI explores how the German-based retailer is using digital technologies to enhance its customers' in-store shopping experience.

Additionally, the Research Article examines Media-Saturn's objectives for building an in-store TV network as well as the network's size, capabilities and reach. It also takes a look at how Media-Saturn leverages technology to manage its network. Von Wittken talked to PRI about the in-store network, its maintenance and management and the technologies that power the in-store digital experience as summarized below.

According to Von Wittken, the primary objective of using digital technologies is to provide customers with the best possible information to make educated purchase decisions. He cited some additional reasons such as making the store attractive and innovative, generating advertising revenue, speeding communication to the store, and optimizing customer messaging.

Media-Saturn deploys a variety of customer-facing technologies in its retail stores, including the following:

  • Informational kiosks that enable the customer to listen to music and preview movie and game trailers before they buy.
  • An Ink Cartridge Advisor kiosk that allows customers to identify their printers and get information about which ink cartridge is appropriate for that printer. Alternatively, the customer can scan a cartridge and see a photo on the screen of the related printer, to ensure they are purchasing the correct ink cartridge.
  • An interactive kiosk/digital screen that allows the customer to select various features and functions, resulting in a recommendation of a mobile phone and/or service plan.
  • Notebooks and tablets are located throughout the store to provide product information, technology features and price information through on-screen displays.
  • The in-store TV network displays advertisements, educational clips, corporate branding, local customized information and services information such as delivery, repair and financing options.

Media-Saturn's InStore-TV network consists of 220,000 screens in 909 stores in 16 countries. Fifteen million shoppers pass by these screens every week. On average, a store has 200 to 250 screens installed in the TV department, the services department, the entertainment area and near cash registers. Media-Saturn manages these screens via a Web-based platform, which also is used to deliver content to these screens. From a central location, a dedicated team of five professionals manages the network. Additionally, the company has a point person responsible for managing the network, marketing efforts and for content supervision and approval in every country in which it operates. Media-Saturn has an outside partner that manages the entire infrastructure.

Media-Saturn has created its own Web interface to manage all of the players that power the InStore-TV network, as well as to create and deliver content. The platform, called Donut Shop, can be accessed in 14 different languages, and has complex user rights management to ensure that all of the stores can influence the content loop in the local department, local store, in specific regions and/or by country. An easy-to-use interface enables store and department level users to manage the content and the bookings individually. It also enables them to have a perfect overview of all the local and national bookings in the booking tool, and all of the content in the internationally shared online library.

Media-Saturn uses media agencies to sell advertising on the in-store network. In various countries, store managers also sell advertising to brands on a multichannel basis encompassing print, magazine, online, and InStore-TV. The Donut Shop platform provides end-to-end workflow including sales orders and agreements, ad insertion and placement and play verification. The company primarily advertises products it sells. Additionally, it accepts advertisements from select brands it does not sell. Von Wittken gave an example of Opel, a German car manufacturer that is running a campaign in all Media-Saturn stores.

Media-Saturn relies on point-of-sale information to provide traffic counts to advertisers. The one exception is in its Russian stores, where advertisers pay based on the number of screens on which content gets displayed. At some point, Media-Saturn would like to provide advertisers with traffic by department but because customers may take several different paths into a given department, the retailer hasn't yet come up with a technology solution that can make this happen. The company believes that use of audience analytics to accumulate age and gender information, along with whether the screen is viewed and for how long, would aid in delivering better, more targeted content and determining an ROI.

Von Wittken says that the primary metric for determining the success of the Media-Saturn in-store network is tied to the amount of revenue generated. This includes revenue from advertisers as well as getting customers to buy up to more expensive models than they were originally considering. Media-Saturn has achieved these goals and is confident that its system is working well. They have expanded the network over time to include additional departments such as computers and services and also have tried some innovative screen placements, such as the displays in see-through glass elevators in the Berlin store that are visible from the street.

When PRI asked what advice Von Wittken would offer to a retailer considering deploying a large network, he replied, "I would say keep it simple when you first roll out. Don't try to do too much too soon. The technology is very robust, but implementing it and getting your staff to leverage it takes time. Also, and this was critical for us, we have one technology partner that handles everything: installation and maintenance, hardware, software, and they even get involved in content. So don't try to save money by trying to do too much in-house."

Download the PRI Research Article, "The Media-Saturn In-Store Digital Experience" here.

Editor's Note: Ingolf von Wittken leads off an experienced and insightful group of speakers at the PRI Retail Forum, one of Digital Signage Expo's pre-show education offerings, scheduled for February 26, 2013. Learn more about Media-Saturn's technology innovations and also hear presentations from AT&T, Kroger Corp., Intel, Wells Fargo, and more at the PRI Forum. Register to take part in this informative pre-conference program at or get more information at

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