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Niemann Foods’ beacon rollout sees 20pc shopper engagement growth

Regional grocer Niemann Foods’ County Market division has rolled out beacons to all of its 44 stores after initial tests proved positive, with a 15 to 20 percent engagement growth week-over-week and hundreds of new daily mobile application downloads.

County Market’s implementation of the Birdzi platform enables all shoppers to receive personalized digital offers, location-specific coupons, sharable shopping lists and in-store maps to streamline the purchasing experience. As independent and major supermarket chains alike begin rolling out significant beacon deployments, food marketers that do not currently offer additive features on mobile will likely be stuck playing catch-up while targeting time-strapped customers.

“Once we launched the app in all our County Market stores, we saw customer response skyrocket,” said Nathaniel Jones, electronic marketing manager at Niemann Foods, Quincy, IL. “In-store offer redemptions have tripled from May.

“We’ve also discovered that nearly 10 percent of all devices entering our stores in the Springfield area now have the app and that number is climbing every week!” he said. “Shopper engagement via the app is growing at 15 percent week over week since May.

“In-store offers have a 600 percent greater open rate than mass marketed offers.”

Driving purchases
Grocery stores arguably offer one of the most beacon-friendly environments. Consumers can easily be swayed to download a supermarket app in exchange for receiving customized deals, some of which may pop up as shoppers walk up and down specific aisles.

County Market is introducing the technology to its 44 stores after a successful pilot at its Springfield, Illinois location. Birdzi’s in-store beacons tap Bluetooth functionality to provide opt-in services for app users.

The platform ensures that offers have relevancy to each shopper, based on his or her previous purchases made in conjunction with the food marketer’s loyalty program. The location-based services also are an attractive feature for customers, as they do not have to horde clippings of paper coupons and can instead receive deals relevant to their location in the store.

For example, a customer standing next to the bakery may receive a coupon for a dollar off cookies, while another shopper in the dairy aisle can get a notification for a discount on coffee creamer.

If consumers receive these types of messages while shopping in-store, they may be prompted to engage in impulse buys for items with deep discounts or for staple products such as milk and bread.

They may also be inspired to buy something they did not have on their mind prior to entering the store.

“Consumers are enthusiastically responding to the in-store offers,” Mr. Jones said. “Redemption rates can be as high as 50 percent.

“Compare that to a printed ad coupon industry average of below 2 percent and you can see the attractiveness of receiving real-time, relevant offers while you’re in the store. The personalized ad flyer is really a unique feature that our shoppers love.”

Users may download the myCountyMarket app for Android and iOS devices.

Paving the way
The beacon rollout places County Market one step ahead of other independent chains, as it is the first of its kind to offer beacons in all of its stores.

Consumers who are short on time may opt to visit a County Market location instead of a competitor’s, thanks to the technology offering in-store maps. These directions can help circumvent customers walking around aimlessly, searching for items on shelves, as they can use the app to locate products with the tap of a finger.

Guests may also develop and share personal shopping lists with their friends and family, and sort the lists by aisle to effectively map out their trip to the grocery store. This time-saving feature is likely to resonate with many busy individuals.

As meal and grocery delivery platforms also begin gaining traction on mobile, supermarket chains are more determined than ever to maintain in-store traffic. Beacons’ easy integration within loyalty platforms is an ideal way to push this strategy forward.

Multinational supermarket retailer Carrefour recently saw a 400 percent increase in mobile app engagement thanks to beacons, pointing to the technology’s ability to significantly influence shoppers when paired with mobile coupons in a supermarket setting (see story).

Additionally, Birdzi’s platform will deliver a customized digital flyer to members holding a loyalty Max Card. Customers are able to scan their favorite items while at home to view current sales or promotions.

County Market is also planning to introduce a shopper portal later this month, which will enable the brand to send personalized deals via email and the Web.

“Like ecommerce, beacons will eventually be a major factor in how grocery stores serve their customers,” Mr. Jones said. “How far into the future will that be for most retailers?

“I’m not sure,” he said. “But very soon, customers will be drawn to stores that offer real-time value.

“And interest in beacons, from both a shopper and a retailer perspective, will escalate quickly as more businesses experiment with location technologies.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York