Ukrop's Rolls Out Innovative Automated Coupon Dispenser

RICHMOND, Va. -- Ukrop's Super Markets here said yesterday it has rolled out to all its Virginia stores a program that links its loyalty card program to a coupon generating system that automates one-to-one marketing at the store level.

The program, called Savings Spot, delivers personalized discounts and content to shoppers at the start of their shopping trips, via automated coupon dispensers.

Ukrop's said loyalty program members scan their Ukrop's Valued Customer Card (UVC Card) at the Savings Spot dispenser near the store entrance, and then receive a sheet of up to eight offers and messages, chosen based on their shopping history. Thus, the program allows the grocer and its vendors to give unadvertised, personalized offers to the most valuable customers.

"The Savings Spot is a major milestone in the reinvention of our UVC Card loyalty platform," said Ukrop's v.p. of marketing Scott Aronson. He said it enables Ukrop's "to widen the gap between other grocery chains' 'discount cards' that have become commodities and ours, which now personalizes the shopping experience and promotes chain loyalty. The Savings Spot is a unique competitive advantage for Ukrop's."

Ukrop's was the first retailer to pilot the system in collaboration with its creator, Hartford, Conn.-based Entry Point Communications (EPC). Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper is another grocer in EPC's retail media network of Entry Marketing dispensers.

As well as delivering coupons, the dispenser also has an on-board video display that can stream video advertising triggered by a brand's appearance on a shopper's offer sheet. Additionally, at the Savings Spot is where shoppers go to pick up the retailer's weekly circular, stacked on an integrated rack.

"We've participated in EPC's Entry Marketing pilot at Ukrop's since last June," noted Bob Gould, marketing manager at Snyder's of Hanover. "The program results are consistently outstanding. This one-to-one marketing program has been very effective and efficient in driving incremental sales of five Snyder's products. Based on the redemption rates by offer type we're seeing, we are confident the right offer is getting into the hands of the right consumer."

Ukrop's started working with EPC in 2005 to implement the Entry Marketing system, which has three main components: the Savings Spot dispenser prominently located inside store entrances; the program's DealSense automated targeting software; and the program concept that will extend beyond offers and messages to incorporate other UVC Card- based loyalty programs later this year.

Savings Spot features DealSense automated targeting, which uses proprietary tools to compare shoppers against each other to discover insights into what and how each buys, and then adds information on how customers respond to Savings Spot offers. The system analyzes category purchase history, purchase price history, purchase cycle for each category, category volumes and voids and more to deliver the most relevant offers for each shopper. The offers are instantly redeemable on purchases made at Ukrop's.

"What makes this program truly unique is the technology and how it mines our data," said Aronson. "While most direct marketing programs rely on a segmentation approach --starting with an offer and then finding a group of shoppers that it makes sense for, Savings Spot is more 'consumer-centric'. It starts with the shopper and then selects the best offers for that particular shopper based on the household's needs and potential desires. For example, the system knows when you're likely running out of cereal and therefore dispenses the 'right' cereal offer based on your brand purchase history. It's very different from any other targeted program available to retailers today."

With more than 4,500 associates, Ukrop's operates 28 retail food stores, Joe's Market, a central bakery and kitchen, and a distribution center.
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