PAW PAW, Mich. -- Having built an in-store database that contains 100 days' history of individual shopper purchases, Paw Paw Shopping Center here is now working to link that information to its new World Wide Web page to support highly specific targeted marketing over the Internet.
The "customer category management" project, an outgrowth of Paw Paw's electronic frequent-shopper program, is moving forward in stages, said Marvin Imus, owner of the single-store operation. By March, the retailer plans to have available to shoppers an in-store computer connected to the Internet and interfaced with the same server that is networked to its customer database and advertising promotion database.
"My customer will go onto my web site, enter her shopper club card number, and she will be presented with offers that would most appeal to her," Imus told SN.
The in-store computer will be made available to shoppers initially to help familiarize them with the technology, but the long-term goal is to deliver targeted promotions via home computers.
Those offers would be developed based on a particular shopper's purchasing history, which is captured down to the item level, as well as the unique customer profile, reflecting personal interests, tastes and some demographic details.
Paw Paw has established 260 highly specific customer categories, such as "Single Under Age 30," and is assigning 15 such categories to each customer profile, Imus said.
"We will go into 'categorized marketing' and market to an age group, or a buying group or any 'like-type' group" with similar preferences, he said. "You could have 'Singles Over 60' or 'Singles Under 30.' They will be different, however, even though they are all 'Singles.' You market to them differently."
Initially, a computer will be available to customers in the store, much like a kiosk, but eventually Imus expects more shoppers will access his web page -- and receive customized promotions -- via computers in their homes.
He estimates a scant 5% of his customers make use of the Internet now, but he predicts many more will soon have access to the Internet.
"The web site will be my main communication piece with my customer in the future," Imus said. "That's why I'm trying to do this now. When it becomes critical, a year or so from now, I want to have my learning curve behind me and have my tools in place so I can communicate with the consumer on the web site."
Paw Paw Shopping Center recently contracted with Independent Delivery Systems, East Granby, Conn., to provide on-line home-shopping software. The store is taking shopper orders by telephone and fax now but by early February expects to have on-line ordering available through its web page.
Imus said Paw Paw's customer database will be integrated with this on-line ordering initiative also, enabling shoppers to create customized shopping lists based on their past purchases.