Scan as you Shop: bringing digital targeting capabilities to the in-store environment


Of the many opportunities offered by digital retail media, one of the most compelling is undoubtedly the ability to target campaigns based on a customer’s purchasing behaviours. Equipped with enough information about what someone has bought before, and an appropriately advanced data science model, it becomes possible to make very accurate decisions about what they’ll buy in the future too.

For brands and their agencies, that’s a powerful capability. Smarter targeting of this kind helps to cut back on wasted ad spend, preventing a campaign from being aimed at shoppers who have almost no chance of reacting to it. Perhaps more importantly, in an ecommerce environment, it gives brands a chance to influence customer decision making right when they’re adding items to their baskets.

As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, there are numerous ways to do just that within the Tesco Media & Insight Platform. On, for instance, advertisers have access to everything from display placements like banner ads through to Sponsored Products – a format that enables relevant products to be surfaced at key moments on a customer’s shopping journey.

Crucially, all of these placements can be focused around individual shoppers. Because a Clubcard is needed to shop online with Tesco, and thanks to the data-driven audience targeting processes taking place under the hood, ads delivered through can be aimed specifically at those with the highest likelihood of making a purchase.

Physical grocery stores, of course, are a very different kind of environment for advertisers. Rather than being a one-to-one communications channel like the kind described above, they’re typically one-to-many. Campaigns can still be targeted around different audiences by running them in the most relevant stores, but the “linear” nature of most store media formats means that ads are more likely to focus on broad appeal than individual relevance.

What if that didn’t have to be the case, though? What if you could bring the same kind of targeting that’s now an inherent part of digital retail media into the store environment?

A new way to target shoppers in-store

First introduced into Tesco stores in 2012, Scan as you Shop handsets allow customers to scan the items they add to their baskets before paying for them at a dedicated self-service checkout. Scan as you Shop is used by around 2.7m active customers within the last six weeks, and accounted for almost 80m transactions in 2022 alone.

While Scan as you Shop might have been with us for some time now, the service underwent a major update earlier this year with the addition of new digital media functionality. As well as enabling customers to scan items and check prices, handsets in close to 200 of the 580 Tesco stores that offer Scan as you Shop can now display highly visible digital ads to customers as well.

On its own, this would represent an important development in terms of engaging with Tesco customers as they shop in-store. One of the key things about Scan as you Shop, though, is that it is available exclusively to Clubcard holders. Customers need to have a Clubcard in order to use the service, which gives brand advertisers the ability to engage with specific shoppers in the same way that they do on

Changing the face of in-store media

Scan as you Shop offers two media formats: full-screen splash ads and smaller, regularly refreshed banner ads. Splash ads are displayed from the moment a customer scans their Clubcard through to the time that they scan their first item and add it to their basket. Banner ads, on the other hand, are shown at the top of the screen and rotate every minute.

Crucially, both of these ad formats can be targeted around individual customers. Using the same targeting science that underpins the media products mentioned above, Scan as you Shop allows brand advertisers to deliver targeted messages to customers as they navigate a physical store.

This has several implications from an advertising perspective:

  • Scan as you Shop doesn’t just make shopping easier; it also allows customers to keep tabs on the cost of their shop in real-time. That makes it an excellent place in which to communicate value through promotions and offers, particularly to customers who tend towards more price-sensitive behaviours.
  • Most shoppers fail to stick to a list in grocery stores, and only a quarter of those that make one specify which brand they actually want[1]. Scan as you Shop provides an excellent opportunity to engage customers with relevant messaging at a time when they’re making their mind up about what to buy.
  • With Clubcard data underpinning Scan as you Shop, it becomes much easier to close the loop in terms of measurement. There’s no longer any question as to whether the “right” shoppers happened to pass by a piece of media, just a direct link between the ads people see and the items they buy.

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of Scan as you Shop is that delivers media to customers via a format that they actively trust and engage with. The handsets facilitate faster and easier shopping, and feedback from early users has been that – rather than feeling intrusive or interrupting them – on-screen ads simply enhance that experience. In fact, the majority of customers appreciated having relevant promotions pointed out to them.

Today, we’re just at the start of our journey with Scan as you Shop. The sheer possibilities of of the technology, in combination with the power of Clubcard data, promises all kinds of exciting developments on the road ahead. Even at this early stage, though, the ability to engage with in-store customers in a more personalised way represents a fundamental evolution for store media.

To learn more about advertising opportunities on Scan as you Shop, contact Odile Tran.

[1] Research reveals 75% shoppers do not stick to a shopping list – Shopping Centre News, 17th July 2019