Grocery retailer Weis Markets, established in 1912, knows that to stay relevant business must foster personalized customer relationships no matter what the landscape. Recognizing that grocery is evolving rapidly right now and customer needs are changing through COVID-19 and beyond, Weis Markets set out to harness artificial intelligence (AI) to meet tomorrow’s customer needs now.
The Mid-Atlantic food retailer, which started in in Sunbury, PA, operates 200 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, and Virginia. To meet its wide range of shoppers’ changing needs, Weis moved to engage its customers through more channels in a more personalized fashion.
“To build and reinforce customer relationships, we decided to partner with Birdzi and leverage Visper, which recommends the most effective promotions to keep shoppers engaged while growing sales,” Ron Bonacci, VP of marketing and advertising, Weis Markets, tells RIS.
Through the new solution, Weis has have been able to develop a seamless, cohesive technology ecosystem to support its marketing goals. Whether through mobile, web, email or text, the grocer can interact with customers throughout their shopping journey.
“This has helped us evaluate shoppers’ needs, whether they are at home, on the go or in-store, and thereby deliver personalized offers and information,” says Bonacci. “Overall, we are finding that using Birdzi’s AI-powered relationship engine has helped us better understand, acquire, grow and retain customers.”
Before implementing the new technology, Weis had to coordinate with multiple vendors through what was a very manually intensive process. To solve that challenge, Birdzi built integrations with vendors and became the single point of contact for execution and reporting.
“This ended up saving us hundreds of man hours and implementation costs,” says Bonacci.
In addition to saving time and costs, customers who received the new personalized offers found they were much more relevant than the messages they received before Birdzi supported the program. The program’s overall ROI has benefited from lower overall costs and an increase in returns.
Key Questions to Ask Potential Vendors
Ron Bonacci, VP of marketing and advertising, Weis Markets, offers a few key questions to ask potential vendors when identifying a partner to help deliver personalized messaging and promotions:
- How long does it take for the platform to ingest historical data?
- Does the platform build a digital doppelganger or twin or each shopper?
- What tools does that platform provide to help you take actions on insights?
- Does the platform connect shopper data with product data?
“Instead of relying on historical purchase data, our new marketing messaging is integrated with white-label mobile and web apps,” explains Bonacci. “This provides real-time insight of shopper intent, enabling us to deliver up-to-the-second recommendations based on behavior and location. Combined with several hundred attributes associated with each shopper, it’s no surprise customer feedback has been positive.”
The customer intelligence platform is able to ingest a retailer’s historical data in mere hours and builds a digital duplicate of each shopper based on thousands of data attributes that are updated in real time with each new purchase. These digital customer doppelgängers are then used to model behavior, providing deep understanding of how each individual customer will respond to promotional offers.
On top of personalized messaging, internally, Weis has found that Birdzi’s insight into shopper needs and analytics has supported its assortment planning.
When asked how retailers can leverage advanced data science and AI capabilities to recommend products, Bonacci recommends to first audit your existing processes and systems to see what data presently exists that you are not taking advantage of.
“Your rewards program, website and marketing campaigns all have deep analytics that can help you better establish shopper attributes, preferences and real-time needs,” he notes. “That being said, remember that both shopper insight and product attributes are very important when it comes to delivering tailored messaging. Understanding more than just the UPC and product name but also ingredients and nutritional data can help you move beyond simply offering a product to offering the right product. As a grocer, you do not need to have product attributes on hand, but you do need to select a platform that can help you ingest this third-party data."