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Giant Eagle Ramps Up Omnichannel Loyalty Strategies

  • Written by Alicia Fiorletta
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Consumers typically access multiple devices throughout the day to research products, collect coupons and hunt for deals. Retailers can keep pace with these omnichannel browsing and buying behaviors by creating a personalized and compelling experience across digital and physical channels.

Giant Eagle, a multi-format food, fuel and pharmacy retailer, has revised its digital marketing and engagement strategies to include more interactive tools that are tailored to specific customer segments. Since implementing content management and commerce systems from EPiServer, the retailer has integrated the online customer experience with its brick-and-mortar stores. As a result, the technology has improved long-term loyalty across all channels, the retailer reported.

The new, mobile-optimized Giant Eagle web site features a variety of resources to help enhance the shopping experience, according to Donna Pahel, Director of Digital CRM for the retailer. For example, online shoppers can tap into the site to access a digital weekly circular, coupons, product catalog, shopping list tool, and menu planner. Using these highly personalized features, consumers now are engaged through the entire purchase lifecycle.

“Shoppers are conducting research and pre-planning prior to purchase, so we had to determine how to best provide them with the information they need via the vehicle they want to receive it,” Pahel said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “For example, Giant Eagle is currently predominantly brick-and-mortar. So we asked ourselves: How do we serve the customer’s needs inside the store? What tools and information can we provide to help them with their shopping?”

All customer loyalty program information and CRM data is aggregated to create detailed profiles that extend across the store, web site and even consumers’ mobile devices. As a result, all content and information is accessible across devices and aligned to specific shopper preferences.

“A customer's shopping history, loyalty reward information, shopping lists and digital coupons are provided across touch points so a customer may choose when, where and how to access their own information,” Pahel noted. “Personalization is key to engaging on a deeper level and helping customers cut through the noise. Customers' time is valuable, so retailers need to be smart about the information they have access to and craft a value proposition that is relevant to each individual.”

Pahel explained that for grocery retailers, the new sales funnel extends to the point of sale and beyond. Giant Eagle enables shoppers to load offers and coupons to their mobile phones, which helps “expedite a big pain point and time suck for the customer. Our digitally engaged customers are our best shoppers. They shop more frequently and spend more — their needs are of utmost importance to us. We appreciate them and we try to show our gratitude at every step of the purchase cycle. The traditional funnel is dead — it doesn't stop with the purchase. It's an eternal loop.”

Understanding The Customer Viewpoint

To determine which features and capabilities to include in the new digital experiences, Giant Eagle consistently looks at the customer’s point of-view . In addition to traditional data inputs, Giant Eagle also collects and analyzes social feedback — particularly from Facebook — that provides valuable customer insights and perspectives in real time.

“There were a lot of features and function we could have included [in the new digital experience],” Pahel said, “but we prioritized based on which ones our customers were telling us they wanted and would bolster our customer value proposition.”

For example, weekly sales and digital coupons now are available directly on the web site homepage, which pleased customers because it helped “cut through the noise, and respected their wants and needs.” Since making online ads a more prominent part of the digital brand experience, Giant Eagle increased total circular views by 40% versus 2012.

Giant Eagle will continue to consider the customer viewpoint to shape future strategies with technology partners, Pahel noted.

“When customers love something we've done, we hear it, but when we've done something they hate, we hear that even louder,” Pahel said. “We want to hear it all — the good, the bad and the downright ugly. There is nothing worse than brands that chase trends and technology for the sake of what's new and hot. Know your customers and keep your offering relevant to your specific offerings, products and services. Inevitably, this approach will deliver on your business objectives.”

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