The circular has always been considered a marketing cornerstone for supermarkets. However, with a widespread consumer shift to digital mediums, the print circular isn’t yielding the same audience or engagement that it used to.

Shoppers are ready for the weekly ad to go digital; 77 percent consumers want circulars to go digital, and 60 percent of people who don’t check print circulars would check a digital circular.

However, before retailers rush to get their weekly ads online, they need to make sure they’re making the most of the digital medium. Here are three ways to do that:

1. Personalize the weekly ad for each individdual shopper

Today’s shopper doesn’t want to sift through hundreds of specials – they want to be able to find the offers relevant to them as easily as possible. This is evident with the print circular, where two-thirds of all baskets do not include a single advertised item from the same week’s Print Ad.

That’s where your loyalty program saves the day. By using a shopper’s previous purchase history, you can create a completely personalized version of the circular for each of your shoppers that includes:

  • Specials on items that the shopper has previously purchased
  • Specials on items most similar to those previously purchased
  • Special offers for complementary items
  • Reminders for staples / frequently purchased items that the shopper is likely running low on, based on the time elapsed since they last purchased that item

As a shopper’s purchase history is continually changing, so should the weekly ad. Customer data can be used to present the most relevant specials and exclude irrelevant items, such as an item purchased the day before.

And this isn’t just for the online weekly ad; this can be delivered via email, showing the three most relevant sales items for each individual shopper, providing even more convenient and relevant ways for your shoppers to engage with the online weekly ad and drive them in-store.

2. Measure your conversion from online to in-store purchases

While loyalty programs allow the retailer to track in-store SKU-level purchase details for individual customers, they also provide a wealth of new untapped opportunities with digital.

Retailers should encourage the shopper to log into their online experience with the same loyalty ID used in-store by promising a personalized experience if they do.

You can then track that shopper’s digital actions — when they opens an email or access the weekly ad, what SKU’s they look at, what they add to their digital list or cart and tie them to the shopper’s loyalty ID. From there, you can accurately measure the conversion rate of the weekly ad and the rest of the digital experience.

At any given point in time, a retailer can know which SKU’s being viewed on the weekly ad, which ones are making it to the shopper’s list, and which ones are being subsequently purchased in-store. The retailer can then leverage this data to improve the assortment and performance of the eCircular in real-time.

3. Move beyond the limitations of print

The traditional print circular has been limited to weekly distribution, even though most shoppers visit their grocery store more than once a week. And due to space constraints with print, the weekly ad tends to highlight about 200 specials even though there are often closer to 1,000 specials occurring at the store at any time. That means that 80 percent of the specials are getting zero exposure.

Luckily, digital doesn’t have to have these limitations. It can stay updated in real time, 24 hours a day, and can list as many specials as are available, with no physical space constraints.

However, as noted in the first point above, the weekly ad will be 500 percent more relevant if it can highlight sales on previous purchases from the full set of specials. So while the specials may not have changed in a few days, the weekly ad can still continuously adjust to be as relevant as possible to an individual shopper at any point in time.

Additionally, looking back at number two, the conversion-to-POS metrics will enable the retailer to swap out featured specials that are underperforming and replace them with others at any given point in time. By staying flexible, you can stay relevant.

Just as consumer habits and technologies are evolving, so must the circular. The eCircular of the future is one that enables the retailer to adapt the consumer experience more rapidly to stay as relevant and personalized as possible. Luckily, with the latest technologies and proper integration with your loyalty program, this is possible today.


This article was originally published in the Progressive Grocer.


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