COLORADO SPRINGS — Wakefern Food Corp. has found that customers on its digital platforms are seeking transaction-oriented tools rather than purely social networking-oriented interaction.
“Our customers want value, coupons, price — it's transaction oriented,” said Cheryl Williams, vice president of marketing, in a presentation at the Grocery Manufacturers Association's Executive Conference here.
As a result, the distributor plans to become even more sophisticated in the promotional space online, including unique and exclusive offers and customization, but not as many merely conversation-oriented initiatives, she said.
Wakefern's business partner in the digital space is MyWebGrocer. That partnership has helped Wakefern advance in digital sectors ranging from website to mobile.
The most popular draw on Wakefern's website is its online weekly searchable shopping circular. Customers can click on items to add them to their shopping lists. That circular is also available on the “ShopRite from Home” site, which is the company's e-commerce effort. In that case, users click on an item and it goes into their shopping cart.
The home-shopping service allows for store pickup or home delivery, and it typically produces higher basket sizes.
Wakefern is active on social media sites such as Facebook and its strategy is “leveraging social networks to drive people back to ShopRite.com ,” where they can view offers, conduct home shopping and handle other business, she said.
MyWebGrocer and ShopRite will be launching a first-of-its-kind Facebook coupon app before the end of the year, said Rich Tarrant Jr., MyWebGrocer's founder, president and chief executive officer, who joined Williams in the presentation
It will be “embedded into the Facebook environment” and “allow for coupons to be placed directly on the ShopRite Price Plus card for redemption at the POS system in store,” he said in answer to an emailed question.
The effort will take advantage of Facebook applications such as sharing, he added.
Meanwhile, ShopRite's Weekly Specials smart phone app has been a big hit, largely because it's fully integrated with the company's website.
“If you have a shopping list already on ShopRite.com  and you open the app, you'll see that list,” Williams said. “The same is true of the reverse way. And you can add items to the list and click items off as you shop.”
The app, developed by MyWebGrocer, was launched for the Apple iPhone and iTouch last November, and was just made compatible with Android devices.
“We've found new customers who hadn't shopped with us before,” she said. “We started out thinking it was just a way to get the circular out there, but it's been much more.”
Optimizing search has been another beneficial effort for the retailer, said Tarrant.
“Both paid and organic search is important, and a good organic search strategy leads to increased Web traffic,” he said.
In one search effort, MyWebGrocer built a system to geo-populate landing pages by SKU for ShopRite, Tarrant said. The landing pages are product specific pages in the search engines.
If a customer is searching for a product in an area in which ShopRite operates, “They would find this page that is branded for ShopRite and will direct traffic to the ShopRite site,” he said. “This is a good way for cast the net and leverage organic search results.”
ShopRite also partners with consumer packaged goods companies in digital efforts, including a “Buy Now” button that is placed on CPG sites and on CPG media buys.
This button, when selected, gives “the consumer the ability to purchase the item from the local store,” Tarrant said. “This satisfies the consumer desire to find the product, and the CPG and retailer desire to sell it.”