ZURICH, SWITZERLAND, September 12, 2007 – Barix AG, a pioneer in IP-based audio, intercom and monitoring, announces that SneakerRadio of Wilmington, Delaware, has standardized on Barix IP audio decoders to make its IP in-store media program available in New Balance retail outlets throughout the U.S. The SneakerRadio project is the latest in a series of in-store media wins for Barix in the U.S. and internationally, as the cost-efficiency and reliability of IP for in-store audio delivery receives more attention. Barix will exhibit its in-store media platform technology at the upcoming In- Store Marketing Media show in Chicago (September 26-27, Booth #351), as well as the NAB Radio show in Charlotte, North Carolina. SneakerRadio is an in-store radio station featuring promotional advertising messages custom made for New Balance retail stores. Store owners who purchase the program receive a self-install kit in the mail featuring a Barix Exstreamer 100 IP audio decoder. The Barix device uses the store's existing Internet connection to receive and decode the audio, and connects to a standard audio amplifier, or PA speaker system for playback. SneakerRadio has also created a web site www.sneakerradio.com which allows customers to monitor and manage their account and connection to the Barix Exstreamer 100. SneakerRadio can be custom programmed for other athletic footwear stores.
John Strojny, owner of five New Balance retail stores in Delaware, Virginia and Washington, D.C., is one of the early adopters of SneakerRadio and reports great success. “I have always been interested in playing some sort of music or video with advertising in our stores,” he said. But video is very expensive and the messaging becomes repetitive. Playing CDs or commercial radio doesn’t work because employees find a way to change the music. The SneakerRadio program appeals to a broad group of customers and the messaging helps to train our employees. It personalizes our message and also just makes the store sound more professional. The Barix Exstreamer was very easy to set up and provides excellent audio quality. Anything else would be a step down.”
SneakerRadio teamed with both Barix and StreamGuys, Inc., a Northern California-based content delivery service that acts as the service provider. The origination point is in Wilmington, where SneakerRadio custom builds and monitors the programming for New Balance. StreamGuys, Inc. distributes the programming over the Internet in the form of Shoutcast streams, and makes multiple streams from different servers available to the stores. The redundant nature of the StreamGuys, Inc. platform allows the Barix Exstreamer to decode audio from secondary or tertiary streams in the event there is a service issue with the primary stream. The Barix device can then automatically revert to the primary source once it is repaired.
Mitch Hill, Owner and President of SneakerRadio, LLC believes that the concept of Retail Radio is catching on for a variety of reasons, especially the purpose of reaching customers at the point of sale. “There are multiple mediums out there that inform customers for the purpose of purchasing a product,” he said. “This can come from print material, direct mail, billboards, radio and TV — the traditional media outlets. What seems to have been ignored is reaching people at the store, where a smaller amount of leverage is required to move people to make a purchasing decision. The power of the branded retail radio station is very strong at that point.”
Hill continued that to do this successfully, the focus should be on delivering good content at the right price for retailers. “We are creating compelling content that tells a story through a blend of music, advertising, messaging, and branding of the store. Instead of relying on expensive installations at our remote client sites, we ship them the pre-installation box with the Barix Exstreamer 100, cable connections and simple instructions. They plug it in and it automatically finds an Internet connection, and it is very reliable. What we offer together with Barix and StreamGuys, Inc. is a paradigm shift in the way programming can be distributed. It is also much easier to scale on a small-to-large basis since we only need to purchase as much bandwidth as we need to accomplish a specific task. That makes it far less expensive than satellite distribution of background music services.”
The result of SneakerRadio for retailers and customers is a real-time streaming solution that sounds like a live radio station at the playback location and doesn’t require much overhead or maintenance.
“Before becoming aware of what Barix offered we were using computers or proprietary hardware,” said Hill. The minute you put a computer out there with moving parts and software, you are opening up a Pandora’s Box of service and hands-on support. The Barix Exstreamer is an embedded device that plugs into the Store's Internet connection and seamlessly handles everything under the hood without requiring operator intervention. It is the silver bullet solution for distribution of background music to the stores.”