Publié le 01/02/2023

PERSONALIZED DIGITAL FLYERS CARREFOUR X ARISTID

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THE Battle  HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN…  

HOW DOES CARREFOUR PERSONALIZE ITS DIGITAL FLYERS? / YVES PUGET LSA 19 JANUARY 2023

To provide offers to each customer based on their needs and wants, Carrefour has created a  personalized digital flyer. Deep dive.

“We want to say yes to all our customers,” says Frédéric Preslot, Carrefour’s operational marketing director.

That is to say, “yes” to those customers who no longer want to receive flyers in their mailbox and “yes” to those who still want promotions but are looking for alternatives to paper and “yes” to those who still need paper, even if it means sending them the flyer by mail. “We will not leave anyone by the side of the road”. Our approach to gradually reduce printed flyers, which launched more than 18 months ago was not aimed at paper, but at reducing waste. Our objective is to reduce the number of paper catalogues by 40% in 2023 and then 80% by 2024!”

Today, the retailer distributes approximately 20 million copies every week in France. So how will this be achieved?

“The basis for all of our communication action plan is based on an equation (number of people exposed x %awareness x %relevance x %persuasive intensity) of the effectiveness of promotional communication. This is the number of people exposed to the flyer multiplied by the number of people who will perceive it multiplied by the number of people who find it relevant multiplied by the persuasive intensity,” explains Frédéric Preslot. Before continuing: “To maximize the effectiveness of our promotional communications, we must expose the most people, maximize the number of those who see the message, and ensure that they find the offer relevant and powerful enough to be attractive. In summary, if one factor of this equation falls to zero, it is the efficiency of the entire chain that falls to zero.”

 

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FOCUS ON RELEVANCE

Of course, the paper flyer carries advantages driving the calculation of this strategic formula, since everyone only opens their traditional mailbox. When Carrefour started the “switch to digital first” it had to recognize that the number of shoppers exposed to digital was lower than those receiving print. Especially since Carrefour did not have the emails of all its customers (and even less of its prospective shoppers) and that the open rates were 30%, with click through rates that were rather low at 3%.

So we decided to tackle the other variables of the equation. And digital has more dynamic capabilities to drive the “relevance” variable”, observes Frédéric Preslot.

Carrefour therefore worked with ARISTID, a retail technology company in the digital transformation of their promotional planning, offer management and creative production processes, to closely tie their promotional data and creative rendering and messaging capabilities with those of the Carrefour CRM platforms.

We already had recommendation capabilities for our digital promotions that we delivered via email. But we told ourselves that we would update the flyer according to customers preferences,” says Frédéric Preslot.

The initial idea is relatively simple: go back to the first pages of the flyer and identify the eight products most frequently purchased by each customer. To guarantee the customer experience, if the recommendation engine does not find at least four products specific to each customer from the pool of weekly offers, there is no personalization. Today, nearly 1.1 million customers are sent the personalized e-flyers by e-mail every week. The click-through rate has doubled and reached 6% since the flyer was personalized.

“Thanks to the technological structure put in place, Carrefour can combine all the richness of its customer data with its “Offer Data Lake” powered by ARISTID in order to produce an infinite number of fully personalized offers in an industrial way,” says Rodolphe Bonnasse, President of ARISTID Retail Technology.

 

Carrefour also sought to improve a number of viewing challenges on its own flyer e-reader. For example, by putting a summary, installing a search engine and sorting features, lists of favorites, a basket layout and ensuring a smoother navigation for facilitating zooms … Even if, today, the personalized flyer is still based on the simple replica of the classic flyer with its 60 to 80 pages, and when flipping flyer pages, shoppers rarely go past page 24!

 

“In a traditional printed flyer, the best exposure typically comes from the first and last pages. But in the same digital flyer, the last cover doesn’ t create the same level of exposure,” warns Rodolphe Bonnasse.

This also raises challenges for visibility of non-food promotions which is often at the end of the flyer…

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THE POPULAR E-MAIL APPROACH

That said, the movement to digital is truly underway, with the launch of the first personalized flyer in September 2022. More than 180 stores have already stopped  distributing printed flyers, especially in Paris and Lyon, and even more have stopped since the beginning of January 2023. What has been the impact at the point of sale? The key measurement will be the traffic and sales in-store.

“The stores that stopped distributing printed flyers did not lose sales. Non-food requires special attention, because it is more sensitive to non-exposure in a paper flyer,” says Frédéric Preslot. But, is there a risk of saturation of customers’ e-mail boxes or a danger of fatigue? “That’s part of the topic. But there is also our App and WhatsApp experience that we developed with a “push flyer” every week. We are entering a new era and we will learn gradually. But for the moment, the vast majority of our customers ask us first and foremost to send it by e-mail, says Frédéric Preslot.

And what about the ecological balance? “We came out of this debate on the basis that the main objective of our approach was to limit waste by preventing 47% of flyers from going to recycle bins without being read.”  Of course, savings are to be expected. In general, for a single hypermarket store, the cost of flyers is between €300,000 and €500,000 per year.

The objective is to reinvest half of the costs: out of €100 spent on paper, at least €50 will be invested in digital. Another part will be used to support the high inflation on the remaining paper, “says Frédéric Preslot.

Because paper is not going to disappear completely, shoppers can still find certain flyers at the checkout lines for customers wishing to prepare their next shopping visit. Two thematic flyers supporting key promotional periods also raise questions: those for the Annual Toy and the Wine Fairs.  In September 2022, the wine event flyers were therefore included into mailed invitations to wine fair evenings. For the toy events, Carrefour plans to distribute printed flyers at checkouts by notifying shoppers via email that the flyers have arrived in-store.

There remains the question of trade cooperation (trade spend). For suppliers, presence in flyers has never been superfluous; It even represents a significant source of income for retailers. “The important thing is the volume of promotions. And Rami Baitiéh [the head of Carrefour, NDRL], was very clear: 40% fewer flyers in 2023 without reducing our turnover under promotions. We are renowned for our promotional offers and this will always be the case, “says Frédéric Preslot. Logically, the transition to the digital first strategy will therefore be completely transparent for suppliers both in terms of promotional commitments and their promotional exposure.

 

LOCAL BUSINESS IN FOCUS

And tomorrow, one can imagine going even further with personalization. With more targeted offers, of course, but also with targeted promotions.

“We are just at the beginning of the personalization of the flyer journey. But this can only be done with an industrialized model,” advises Rodolphe Bonnasse.

And so we can even imagine designing offers or promotions according to personal events like birthdays. “Imagine the possibilities and differentiation with 1,200 stores, 1.1 million customers, 500 offers in a hypermarket catalogue and 8 personalized offers,” muses Frédéric Preslot, “with the possibility in the near future of having local offers that can vary from store to store.”

Of course, such possibilities can inspire envy. “Some giants of the digital world have estimated that the paper ecosystem (printing, transport, distribution, etc.) in France at €1.5 billion per year. And they have estimated that in 2023 some €200 million would shift to digital as a result of these transformations,” says Rodolphe Bonnasse.

Is there then a risk of one day becoming dependent on Google or Meta?

“It’s possible. That’s why we want to preserve our retail clients’ independence by being a firewall between them and the digital media ecosystem,” insists the president of ARISTID Retail Technology

The customer data of the brands is more valuable than the algorithms of the big digital media models (Google, Amazon, Meta, and Apple). To know even a fraction of what retailers know about their customers, the digital giants have to invest billions of Euros. Especially since, in a few months, they will no longer have the right to use third-party cookies. More than ever, retail data and science will have incredible value. “We are the guardians of the temple of this promotional data.” And eventually, everyone is aiming for the holy grail of local business. That is to say, to be able to  easily throw onto YouTube, promotions of the store that is at the closest to the shopper… a possibility that makes the entire digital planet dream. So the battle has only just begun…

LSA publication (French retail specialized media)


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FIVE TIPS FOR DIGITIZING YOUR FLYER

By Rodolphe Bonnasse, President of ARISTID Retail Technology

1/ Ensure the robustness of your promotional data. Otherwise, for each display channel (app, web, mailing, flyers, stores …), you will be forced to spend money and time to make it actionable.

2/ Have data accessible, i.e. in one place. If it is the result of a co-construction from different functions of the company, it will quickly become a nightmare to manage and maintain.

3/ Ensure that the entire media creation system (PDF, jpeg, video files, banners, etc.) is managed by a robust, automated offer management platform capable of industrializing your outputs.

4/ Have a clean and in-depth customer database with an adequate recommendation engine. A good CRM system is a must.

5/ Have an open tech stack compatible with your digital ecosystem to avoid managing formats specific to each media.

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