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Successful Shopper Personalization Depends on Personalized Digital Circulars

Shoppers expect their retailer to understand them and to engage with them digitally in new, more timely and relevant ways.

Many retailers are missing the mark when it comes to helping their shoppers take advantage of the hundreds, if not thousands, of sale items each week. Most are still depending too-heavily on generic print or digital flyers with sometimes hundreds of weekly offers. Most are still merely hanging shelf tags on Temporary Price Reductions (TPRs) on what can be thousands of items. And most are augmenting these techniques with digital coupon galleries or traditional mailers with even more offers.

With so many offers out there, why are so few taken advantage of by shoppers? While retailers’ intentions are good by presenting various ways for the shopper to save money, there are two main flaws in the current model;

  1. Too many retailers are placing the burden on the shopper to wade through countless irrelevant offers to find those that matter to them individually.
  2. The various offers presented to shoppers tend to be based on what the retailers and their brand partners wish to sell, versus presenting those offers that are aligned specifically to what the shopper wishes to buy.

Today’s promotional models in the grocery industry result in a tremendous amount of waste in the system. It is safe to say that no one is benefiting like they should be; not the brands, not the retailers and certainly not the shoppers. All stakeholders are underwhelmed by the experience and outcomes associated with today’s promotional models. This problem is exacerbated even further for the shopper when the very same techniques are being used by similar in-market retailers.

In today’s data-driven and digitally-connected world, it doesn’t need to be this difficult for the shopper. Leading retailers who understand this are seeking to dramatically simplify and improve the shopping experience for their customers by providing shoppers with highly relevant personalized digital circulars each week.

Personalized digital circulars can result in huge benefits for the retailer including larger baskets, greater shopper loyalty, and higher share of shopper. Shoppers benefit because they can save time and save money.

There are three main ingredients to make personalized digital circulars work:

  • First, retailers are sitting on mountains of shopper-identified transaction data. From this data, retailers can derive shopper preferences, patterns, and needs. By leveraging proper big data analytics, retailers can better understand a given shopper’s loyalty, emotional engagement, and anticipate their wants and needs. Retailers can be more aware of product associations, product cross-effects, basket and visit change detection, and other patterns like pantry loading and depletion rates at the individual shopper level.
  • Second, retailers must leverage the full breadth of available offers at any given time, including ad prices, TPRs, personal deals, markdowns, digital coupons, or other offer types. These countless offers must be distilled down, simplified and matched specifically to the unique demand patterns of that individual shopper. The shopper must be presented with only a limited number of highly relevant offers that will illustrate that the retailer truly understands them.
  • Third, in today’s environment, retailers must engage with and update their shoppers digitally. This means that retailers must allow the shopper to choose how and when updates should be published to them. Some shoppers will opt to receive once a week (or perhaps multiple times per week), personalized e-mail messages, social postings, or text updates. Each communication should allow the shopper to open their retailer-branded, personalized digital circular. The most impactful offers should be more prominent for the shopper with descending impact as the shopper scrolls down through the various offers.

The ideal personalized digital circular should be accessible by the shopper with a common experience across traditional personal computers, tablet computers, and most importantly, mobile devices. The shopper should be able to review relevant offers, activate them if necessary, such as digital coupons, and create a digital shopping list. As an illustration, the shopper may elect to start their review of offers on their personal computer at home, but then be able leverage their smart phone while they are in store.

Leading retailers will augment and broaden the appeal of the personalized digital circular with other digitally-enabled capabilities such as access to the retailer’s assortment (product, pricing, promotions, nutritional information), relevant recipes, catering, prepared foods visibility, and various other capabilities that inform shoppers. It is also essential that the personalized digital circular helps the shopper to understand how much money or value they are experiencing by using the program. It never hurts to reinforce savings received to maintain sustained shopper engagement.

Successful personalization initiatives by retailers will allow the shopper to control the experience, such as how many offers they receive. Successful programs will be demand-based (focused on what the shopper wishes to buy) versus sales-oriented (what the retailer wishes to sell). Consumers today expect their retailers to understand them and to eliminate friction in the shopping process. Personalization and personalized digital circulars are affordable, relatively easy to deploy, and are appreciated by shoppers.

A key litmus test for retailers to truly hit the mark on personalized digital circulars, is that there should be as many variations of the personalized digital circular as there are engaged shoppers in the program. Another key litmus test is that the personalized digital circular must contain all types of offers, including ads, personal deals, coupons and TPRs. Only focusing on digital coupons for example really misses the mark and runs the risk of shopper attrition from the program over time.

For more information on personalized digital circulars, you can download the attached white paper here or participate in an upcoming webinar on November 29th to see this technology in action. For more information about the webinar click here.

About the author:

Todd P. Michaud is the President & CEO of Transformational Retail Technologies. He is also the Chairman of the Board for both I.Me.Mine Digital Inc. (, a leading shopper personalization solution for retailers, and GrocerKey, Inc. (, a leading eCommerce and mobile shopping platform for retailers.

For more information about the author, click

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