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By Joel M. Albrizio, President

"How Long Can Any Printer Survive...Read, Think, And You Be The Judge"

Let's take a look today at where retail circular advertising and its intended distribution to customers is heading. With so many retailers like A&P and Sports Authority closing, coupled with every major retail group and its move to digital advertising, the options and window of time to maintain a snail mailed distribution package are becoming limited. 

Consider major retail groups like Delhaize and Ahold consolidating marketing programs with the merger. Mergers, acquisitions, and retail store closings are reducing potential advertisers and retail advertising distribution dollars necessary to maintain a shared mail program.

"You Need Many Circular Retailers To Offer Shared Snail Mail"

With such a reduction in distribution advertising dollars, the options of reaching the customer via traditional shared mail programs are about to change.

A realistic look into today's customer acquisition print costs tells us it is just too expensive from any reasonable budgetary perspective. Inflexible lead times for a merchandiser from an item selection stand point add to this impossible mission to continue with circular advertising as we understand it today.

That said, what are the retailers' options? The retailer must become more digital. There are many providers available to allow easy, inexpensive access to e-mail lists (shared or individually e-mailed) to begin to move from print.

"We Must Understand How To Beat Print Digitally"

So now we imagine two approaches to reaching and impressing the existing or potential customer. A major chain has an advertised special on the break date of the print circular and distributes these specials across the desired area of dominant influence.

In response, the digital supermarket retailer views the printed circular from his or her competitor and decides just how to combat this printed circular. The supermarket retailer now advertising via digital options lowers many of the print retailers feature items by 5-10 cents, and releases the digital advertising product at less than 10% of the print product costs.

"How To Beat The Competition Silently & Digitally"

So in theory, marketing and advertising specialists could review the printed retailers' product, have every option to combat the printed ad's item and price points at our fingertips, and release the competitive digital ad. When compared to a sophisticated digital competitor, the printed circular is an inept approach .

Why Does This Digital Plan Seem So Simple? Only Because It Is.

Today, Adlife is working with a major provider to release just such a product in a beta program in many states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

As I compose this article, over a million prime target shared e-mail customers are available in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia. Customers most every supermarket retailer not only desires, but finds necessary.

New Jersey based ShopRite is just one of the supermarket groups looking to move more of its ad distribution to every digital option, allowing the consumer more digital engagement.

"Is The Goal To Eliminate The Printed Circular.....Yes"

It has been rumored for some time that ShopRite intends to reduce or eliminate the printed circular whenever and wherever possible. Look at how much time and money ShopRite invested in the digital coupon program alone.

So Now We Ask, How About My Printer? If My Printer Prints Accounts Like ShopRite, Will They Survive?

Is my printer the best decision maker to handle this print to digital migration?

While any answer can be seen as nothing other than self serving, how can any supermarket retailer recognize any printer as the best digital solution decision maker? Simply put, print is an analog approach. The expertise required escapes printers. Their main objective is to keep its iron busy.

The supermarket retailers' transition to digital advertising, third party digital shopping solutions, as well as the retailers' own in store digital shopping options must be underway now to find success.

"Allegiance Makes Huge Digital Progress"

Just another example announced this week was "Allegiance Retail Services intends to partner with Birdzi to enhance digital engagement with its customers"

To survive, retail supermarkets must employ and trust the beginnings of the digital age of supermarket shopping and engage the customer differently. To avoid digital is to exclude your customer from shopping your store.

Is Vendor Funding Digital Friendly?

When we dig further we find a world full of vendor funded opportunities offered by most CPG's including the big three. General Mills, Proctor & Gamble, and Nestlé all want to work with the supermarket industry in this important transition.

We will see an industry changing to digital at warp speed over the coming months and years. These digital changes allow for new opportunities to grow and become closer to our customers digitally. It can be a fun time to be a retailer.

"Get Digital & Get Growing"