A retailer such as Target can instantly scan its store shelves with the help of RFID or some other acronym and understand that store items aren't moving and its time to make a decision: "Can I spend more media to sell those products for profit or does it make better sense not to use media and send it back to the manufacturer who has to eat it?" Retailers can do this a bit today.. but not in real-time and in a way that merges online and offline media with sales data - a "Big Data" stew. The retailer needs a software tool to help make real-time media decisions. Once they do, media is their playground.
Scenario #2 - Partner Promotion
The mega-retailer owns the data for in-store, let alone online. If they can create buying algorithms that leverage proprietary, retailer sales data and then make it available to manufacturing partners who have their pockets full of trade/co-op dollars, well, let the sun shine in - let the manufacturer pay for promotion of its products. All the retailer does is play curator to its in-store content and, most importantly, its brand. The retailer could also supply its own branded, AdWords-like product that could either hook into media supply or let the partner hook into its own media supply and just use the retailers "media buying API."
Retailers will have a much more robust software component tomorrow as the buying and selling of media could come through them, like it or not.
Scenario #3 - Creating Content
Given that the mega-retailers will have a new and better way of buying media, this should drive profits for them and their partners. Over the long haul, the "retailer as media company" opportunity appears where cash flow will be used for compelling content which reaches target audiences. Effectively, we're back to the "Soaps" and the evolution of branded entertainment.
So, that's three legs of a stool that creates a constant dialogue with the consumer: online store, offline store and media to spur the interest and drive the intent. And it's all owned by the retailer and the data-driven, retailer CMO who takes control on her company's top and bottom line revenues - and, more control in the C-suite.