UKROP'S ROLLS OUT PERSONALIZED WEB SITE

RICHMOND, Va. -- Ukrop's Super Markets here has enrolled more than 20,000 loyalty card shoppers to access a new Web site application that offers a variety of personalized promotions and recipe information.Once logged onto MyUkrops, part of the 30-store retailer's recently enhanced Web site, www.ukrops.com, loyalty cardholders can create and save shopping lists, find recipes that fit their dietary

RICHMOND, Va. -- Ukrop's Super Markets here has enrolled more than 20,000 loyalty card shoppers to access a new Web site application that offers a variety of personalized promotions and recipe information.

Once logged onto MyUkrops, part of the 30-store retailer's recently enhanced Web site, www.ukrops.com, loyalty cardholders can create and save shopping lists, find recipes that fit their dietary profile and view customized offers based on their past shopping behavior.

Ukrop's has been testing pieces of MyUkrops for several months and launched the whole package at the end of May, said Scott Aronson, vice president of marketing, Ukrop's. The chain is the first food retailer in the U.S. to launch a Web application powered by Grocery Shopping Network (GSN), Minneapolis.

"The site saves customers time, and we've gotten very positive feedback," Aronson said. Customers are especially impressed with the ease with which shopping lists can be created, he said.

Ukrop's efforts reflect the greater attention retailers are paying to their Web sites, including offering customized promotions. "Almost every supermarket is trying to do something with their Web site that involves more than just posting weekly specials," said Dr. Ken Boyer, associate professor of supply chain management, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich. "All grocers are trying to figure out ways to create more of a community spirit, whether it involves sharing recipes or guiding customers' health."

"Ukrop's is on the leading edge with [this site]," said Betsy Tucker, senior consultant, Retail Systems Consulting, Naples, Fla. "It's taking information and tailoring it to build customer relationships." The chain does not, however, offer online shopping.

To access the site's personalized features, shoppers must first enroll in Ukrop's Valued Customer loyalty program, one of the industry's first loyalty card programs that debuted in the late 1980s. Loyalty cardholders then visit Ukrop's site and create a shopper profile by clicking on MyUkrops.

Cardholders are asked to indicate their dietary preferences such as vegetarian, vegan or kosher as well as certain food restrictions and limits for caloric, fat and cholesterol intake. This information is used to focus searches of the site's database of 40,000 recipes.

During sign-up, shoppers specify whether they'd like to receive weekly e-mails containing personalized specials and meal ideas and/or monthly e-mails focused on events at Ukrop's

About 75% of shoppers who register on the Web site opt to receive e-mail communications, Aronson said.

"[Weekly] e-mails present special recipes [based on a shopper's profile] that include items that are on sale," Aronson said. "You can link [automatically] from these e-mails to your personalized MyUkrops page on the site, without logging in" to the Web site.

In addition to sending e-mails, MyUkrops "remembers" who customers are when they log on and what they like to buy, according to Ukrop's. It then provides product recommendations and promotions based on a customer's electronic shopping list items, previously purchased products or products the shopper might be interested in based on shopping habits.

"We have hundreds of [advertised] weekly specials and thousands of unadvertised purchase specials," Aronson said. "Those get filtered and presented to customers in a unique way based on their [past] purchases."

Ukrop's is investigating technology that would allows customers to print their shopping lists at the store.