PITTSBURGH -- Both Shop 'n Save, here, a division of Supervalu, and Gerland's Food Fair, Houston, are finding integrated on-line recipes a way to improve marketing while enhancing the value of their Web sites. The two chains recently implemented intelligent interactive Web recipe pages that let shoppers create better meals quicker with customized recipes and shopping lists.
Shop 'n Save and Gerland's are two among a handful of supermarket chains that have signed on with Meals.com for a custom-tailored approach to their meal planning. The 27-store Ukrop's Supermarkets, Richmond, Va., introduced Meals.com kiosks in its supermarkets last February. This month, Marsh Supermarkets, Indianapolis, Ind. and Metro Supermarkets, Baltimore also signed on for on-line recipe Web pages through Meals.com, although both declined comment.
Both Shop 'n Save and Gerland's Web recipe pages use "smart" technology with a robust back-end database structure and sophisticated targeting capabilities. Each time shoppers log onto either chain's recipe Web pages, they can create and add to their customized cookbook, shopping list, or shopping menu.
"One of the primary interests we have is to sell food products to customers faster," said Ray West, communications manager, central region, Shop 'n Save. "Our shopnsavefood.com Web recipe page enables us to create access to an enormous base of recipes, yet to reach them our customers always stay within our domain," West added. Shop 'n Save's recipe Web page, which launched this month, replaces an earlier version at the same Web address with fewer resources. "Shop 'n Save is establishing its Web presence through shopnsavefood.com to better reach customers," West said.
To promote its Web recipe offerings, the chain unveiled a promotion. "So far, we've had several hundred registrants for a contest to win $25 gift certificates off of foods from different manufacturers," West said. It is too early to evaluate the recipe Web page's customer acceptance rate, he said.
Besides offering recipes and food tips, Shop 'n Save aims to offer an on-line grocery shopping fulfillment option from its recipe Web page soon. "Eventually we'd like to have it be an on-line point-and-click store for home shoppers," West said.
He pointed to logistics challenges with respect to moving to an on-line ordering process. "E-commerce has evolved to the point where customers have expectations for real-time fulfillment. In a grocery environment, that's not possible since we can't e-mail our groceries; they must be delivered physically. Fulfillment of on-line grocery orders is a complex issue," West said.
Gerland's interactive meal planning recipe Web page highlights offerings from its shopper loyalty program. By analyzing personalized information garnered about members of Gerland's Customer Advantage shopper loyalty program, the system can add to a customized shopping list for each shopper from favorite recipes each time they log on.
"Our partnership with Meals.com is designed to improve upon the value that we show to Gerland's customers," said Kevin Doris, president and chief executive officer, Gerland's. He added that for Gerland's recipe Web page, which the company launched in mid-March but only began promoting two weeks ago in the Houston area, this is a soft opening. "We must crawl before we can walk or run."
The Gerland's recipe Web page offers links to Gerland's Customer Advantage loyalty card program through Catalina and other Web sites. "If we can help customers organize their meal planning and shopping lists, the average customer transaction size will increase and help bring up sales and gross revenue profits for Gerland's," Doris said.
Both Shop 'n Save and Gerland's recipe Web pages replace the laborious process for shoppers of keeping a shopping list by doing it in a more convenient way under the food retailer's brand, said Ian Melenson, vice president, new product development, Meals.com. Meals.com's business model is "to help food retailers integrate their Web and frequent shopper Web strategies," said Jens Molbak, founder and chief executive officer for Meals.com.
"They can put together an integrated shopping list. It's a highly scalable system useable for click stream data off of Web sites," Molbak explained. "If you are a vegetarian or following a high-protein diet, each time you return to the recipe Web page it serves up information tailored to you," he said. Molbak referred to this concept as one-to-one-to-one marketing. Food manufacturers benefit by having their brand names shown in recipes that are posted on the recipe Web pages, said Melenson.
Molbak envisions having a system that prints out highly targeted secure printer-based coupons from Coinstar terminals in food retail stores. "It's a way to offer food that gets people out of their shopping rut," he said.