How GetUpside Personalizes the Grocery Experience

PG finds out from VP of Grocery Tyler Renaghan
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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How GetUpside Personalizes the Grocery Experience Tyler Renaghan Q&A
Tyler Renaghan

According to GetUpside, grocery stores implementing its personalized cash-back offers see a 3% to 5% increase in profit, and customers come in 1.6 times more frequently than non-GetUpside users and have 35% larger baskets on average. The solution is currently available at 100 grocery stores across the country, including Carlie C’s IGA, Gelson’s, Piggly Wiggly, Grant’s Supermarket, Great Wall Supermarket, Streets Market and Good Food Markets.

Progressive Grocer connected with Tyler Renaghan, VP of grocery at Washington, D.C.-based GetUpside, to find out how it helps grocers retain customers. 

Progressive Grocer: How does GetUpside work from a business perspective?

Tyler Renaghan: When compared with online retailers, brick-and-mortar businesses are at a disadvantage. Ad technology has made personalization an expectation online, where each of us is served specially tailored ads, webpage layouts and discounts. To date, this technology has not been democratized in the brick-and-mortar world, reserved only for the best-resourced retailers. But the same business needs exist for all grocers: to win a larger share of each customer’s wallet and attract the baskets sold at their competitors’ stores.

Truly personalized experiences like we have on Amazon are not just for the online world anymore. With GetUpside, brick-and-mortar can use it, too. We built a product that uses the processor data grocers already pay for, in combination with our machine-learning algorithms, to learn about each customer and personalize each of their experiences so retailers earn more profit. 

GetUpside drives new customers and proven profit to nearly 30,000 brick-and-mortar businesses nationwide. Our mobile app finds customers where they are — running errands and in the context of their daily lives — and provides them with the minimum possible (margin-bound) offer that motivates each customer to change their buying behavior. If the customer has transacted with your competitor, we find a way to profitably switch their purchases to your store. Customers choose retailers in the GetUpside app to earn cash back, and those merchants earn guaranteed profit on every transaction. If GetUpside can’t prove that the customer is new, or is buying more than they usually would, GetUpside does not get paid. GetUpside uses a 100% performance-based business model.

GetUpside does not have to replace a retailer’s existing loyalty programs. We know that in the face of COVID-19, most retailers have invested in new loyalty programs and e-commerce offerings. Instead, GetUpside boosts the impact of existing programs by bringing in new customers, because those programs are limited to the customers the retailers already serve. 

PG:What is the importance of loyalty programs in today’s competitive grocery environment? Is this particularly important for small independent grocers? If so, why?

TR: Loyalty programs capture customers with strong brand affinity, and retain them so they are not swayed by nearby competitors. The nation’s top-performing retailers are using loyalty programs as effectively as possible, getting about 30% of their existing customers to sign up and about 10% to 15% of those customers to remain loyal. Unfortunately, there is no clear indication that the programs themselves are making customers behave differently, since customers that choose to join loyalty programs are naturally more inclined to buy more from that grocer (also known as selection bias). Not to mention that those programs are not reaching new customers, or the 70% of existing customers who choose not to participate.

With new technologies, savvier market entrants, and changing buying behavior resulting from COVID-19, loyalty is not what is driving new customers or bigger baskets to the most competitive retailers today. Instead, they have layered on new ways to find customers and influence their buying habits, so more customers choose them and buy more while in-store.

More than 30 million customers use GetUpside to decide where to buy their groceries. That number grows every day as big banks and other top apps — like GasBuddy, DoorDash and Instacart — push GetUpside offers to their cardholders and drivers. Because these new customers are online, GetUpside knows where and when they are in their cars running errands. The platform reroutes those customers right to your store. So you reach new customers that would not have chosen your store otherwise.

Unlike most loyalty programs that are tiered based on customer spend, GetUpside’s algorithm uses 24 pricing factors — based on four years of data spanning 170 million offers — to help you understand customers. That way, you can provide compelling customer promotions while maximizing net profit. All this is done using the anonymized processor data retailers already pay for. So there’s nothing new the retailer has to do. GetUpside does all the work.

This is not to say that grocers should cancel their investment in loyalty programs. Instead, they should layer on additional tools. When customers use GetUpside alongside [their] loyalty program or proprietary app, those loyalty customers visit 187% more than usual, according to a GetUpside analysis of 2.7 million users and loyalty program customers representing 11.8 million transactions. Making both programs available to customers maximizes the investment most retailers have already made in their loyalty program, since GetUpside keeps promotions within available margin to guarantee profit. Some retailers even integrate GetUpside into their own app so they can simplify their customers’ experiences.

PG: What are the company’s plans going forward, with regard to new offerings?

TR: We are focused on helping brick-and-mortar grocers maintain their position as community staples. Today, this means helping retailers grow their bottom line through more visits and bigger baskets. Tomorrow, this can mean everything from introducing customers to more of a retailer’s store, to personalizing their own experiences.

For example, if I always buy my fresh products from Gelson’s, GetUpside can introduce me to some of the pantry staples in the center store. That’s one less trip for me to make, and a great opportunity for Gelson’s to continue growing with me as a customer.

So, what about helping a retailer offer personalized experiences to their existing customers, with little to no work? Right now, sophisticated retailers create customer segments and guess what type of incentive will motivate them to buy more, send out campaigns, and then measure how they performed afterwards with imperfect data. Instead, imagine a world where GetUpside’s machine-learning platform was dynamically identifying the right types of experiences and incentives at the precise time every individual customer needs them, through a retailer’s owned communication channels like their app, website, loyalty program and email. In practice, that looks like knowing in real time that Joe needs bananas and directing him to the produce that will expire if not purchased today, or knowing that Betsy is a regular customer and surprising her with express checkout at the checkout line that’s currently empty. That would considerably maximize loyalty and retention of a customer, and would be a true differentiator in today’s market of fierce pricing battles.

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