As we approach the fourth anniversary of the Independent Grocers Alliance's new National Digital Ad, we are speaking with retailers who have shifted a significant portion of their print advertising dollars into digital to see what their experience has been.
The National Digital Ad gives independent retailers access to technology that they would usually be priced out of, IGA CEO John Ross explains.
"We want our retailers to have the less expensive, more modern, and much more effective solution offered through digital advertising so they're getting more bang for their advertising buck, and more sales because of it," Ross says.
That solution includes:
A targeted local ad buy that reaches shoppers in your area in the online spaces they visit most
National and regional offers from CPGs like Coca-Cola, Mars Wrigley, Kellogg's, and more
The opportunity to add your local content, including videos, GIFs, local offers and products, events, and more
Retailers who engage with the National Digital Ad are quickly seeing the difference digital makes. "When switching from print to digital, the average increase in ad exposure is 73%," IGA Director of Digital and eCommerce Programs Sarah Rivers says. "And 27% of shoppers who see a store's digital circular end up coming to the store."
Rivers spoke to Marc Galland, owner of Pick-Rite Thriftway in Montesano, Washington, about his experience with the National Digital Ad. A single store operator, Galland shifted a large portion of his print advertising dollars to digital, reducing his cost and increasing his average basket size by 4% all while boosting customer count.
"Adding the reduction in cost to the basket increase, which happened over 2020 when we were at the peak of the pandemic with higher baskets and fewer trips, creates an even larger profit margin, making his results especially significant," Rivers explains.
Keep reading to learn more about his results, including nearly 130,000 August 2022 impressions and 600 store visits from the ad alone!
Pick-Rite Thriftway's Digital Experience
Sarah Rivers: Marc, tell me about your journey to go digital with your weekly ad. What were you doing with print and what made you decide to move into a digital format for your circular?
Marc Galland: We decided to go digital to make sure we reach all our customer base.
We used to insert about 8,000 copies of our print ad in our local newspaper each week. We saw a decline of the newspaper circulation about 10 years ago and decided to move to emailing our ad to our loyalty card members and post the ad on our website. We currently use a combination of the following advertising channels:
Rivers: What cost savings have you seen by removing most of your print ads and moving to a digital circular?
Our advertising expense is about 70% of what it was with inserting print in the newspaper.
We have used the rest of the budget for special events.
Rivers: What kind of results have you seen and how has the shopper response been?
Galland: When we dropped the print ad insert, we saw no drop in sales or customer count. In fact, within six months of starting the National Digital Ad, our customer count increased by 25% and by 32% within 9 months!
Customers not on our email list can pick up hard copy mailers in store the Monday before the ad breaks. This satisfied the older group with no computer access.
We also at times will boost our ad on Facebook. We send out emails and Facebook weekend specials on Thursdays. The younger generation does not get their information or news from print, they use their mobile devices. So, to attract them we need to be where they are. The customers find the digital ad easy to read and it works on most mobile devices.
Rivers: That's a great strategy with great results! It's important to note where that data comes from, too. We use cell phone data to create a geofence — a target area — around your store. We then distribute your ad to your target audience: adult homeowners who have shopped your store or your competitor’s stores within the past six months.
Our technology partner, Design House, delivers a custom report with detailed analytics, including ad and circular impressions, time spent on the ad, popular items, shared content, and more. And they just improved the reports to breakout the store visitation between new visits, infrequent visits, moderate visits, and frequent visits, which is a great addition and something stores should be interested in knowing.
Galland: The support from the IGA digital group is outstanding. When we were new to the program they helped guide us through to get the best results. Just let them know what you need, and they take care of it.
Pick-Rite Thriftway's August 2022 report: ad impressions reached over 126,738 people and they gained 564 visits from the ad.
"In most markets, print has fallen to such a low readership, it likely makes financial sense to give it up and move entirely to digital," Ross says, noting, "But in those few markets that still have a substantial print readership, moving some of your advertising spend into digital is an easy way to slowly wean yourself off of print dependency."
Another benefit? Retailers can quickly adjust the ad based on availability, which is a huge value-add during this time of supply chain instability. If an ad item wasn't on the delivery, retailers can remove it from the digital circular immediately. Alternatively, if there is an abundance of an item that needs to sell quickly, retailers can add it to the digital circular priced to sell.
Digital is the adaptable and affordable choice, and it's time to try it out. "Whether retailers choose IGA's National Digital Ad or through an alternative offered by their wholesaler, it doesn't matter as long as they're taking advantage of these benefits," Ross adds.