The Shopper Engagement Platform (SEP), the in-house loyalty and data marketing program for Kansas City, Kansas-based Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG), has engaged more than 300 of its retailers on the program. A first to market in-house program for grocery wholesalers in the U.S., SEP is aimed at enabling independent retailers to utilize data, digital coupons and rewards to grow sales.
SEP is the evolution of traditional loyalty programs into a program that works for all types of consumers and retailers. AWG retailers have utilized the program in a number of different ways, with multiple go-to-market strategies.
“Our goal was to develop a program that did a lot of the heavy lifting for our retailers,” said Randy Lane, advertising manager. “Our SEP platform allows single or multiple store operators to participate in the program.”
Fueled by loyalty and data marketing veterans Loyalty Lane Inc., SEP allows AWG retailers to offer a carded or non-carded program. AWG retailers on the SEP program are utilizing points programs, gas programs and short-term promotions to drive customer loyalty and sales.
Recent statistics from retailers on SEP showed a nearly $14 difference in average basket size for customers utilizing a card or rewards program.
Retailers have chosen to both use a traditional card-based program, while others are using a virtual card on a mobile app or using a unique identifier such as a phone number. This has allowed retailers the ability to meet the different types of customers that engage with loyalty programs.
More recent growth of the program has been through AWG specific digital content, fueled by engagement through AWG’s category management team. They have worked with vendors to secure digital offers and coupons outside of the nationally aggregated coupons, to give AWG retailers a competitive advantage.
Notable AWG groups experiencing growth on the SEP program include Market Basket, Hays, Riesbeck’s, Sun Fresh and Strack & Van Til. There are also numerous single and multi-store operators in each of the eight AWG divisions participating in the program.
“At the end of the day, it’s about evolving to provide different ways for our retailers to bring value to the consumer,” Lane said. “And with that value comes data, which allows us to offer the customer relevant marketing—something that’s good for everyone involved.”
AWG is the nation’s largest cooperative food wholesaler to independently owned supermarkets, serving over 1,100 member companies and over 3,800 locations throughout 36 states from eight full-line wholesale divisions.