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Macy’s, Walgreens circulars get the mobile treatment

April 15, 2013

Starting this week, users of several newspaper mobile applications can easily access sales information from nearby retailers such as Macy’s and Walgreens via the new Find & Save program.

A joint venture of leading newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Post, Wanderful brings together sales data from the top 42 circular advertisers, including CVS and Target, and makes it available on desktop, tablets and smartphones.  Eventually, other retailers will be added with the goal of enabling users to locate anything that is available and for sale in their neighborhood via Find & Save.

“You can browse when you are out and about and get a view of the sales that are nearby – sort of like Yelp for sales,” said Dave Thomsen, executive vice president of product and design at Wanderful Media, Los Gatos, CA.

“You can look at a list that you’ve created previously or you can create a list and when you are in the store you can look at it,” he said. “That’s helpful to you as a shopper.”

“We are making a bet on tablets as a huge part of the laid-back, discovery part of the experience. But then mobile is critical when you are out in the world and we can kind of nudge you about those things that you already expressed interest in.”

Centralizing digital circulars
The weekly sales circulars that are inserted into newspapers were traditionally how consumers found local sales for the upcoming week.

However, as mobile adoption grows – and consumption of traditional media declines – the number of shopping-related applications is on the rise as users increasingly engage with their mobile devices to support their shopping activities.

While users can currently find circulars on an individual retailer’s mobile Web site and/or app, Wanderful Media is betting that users will be better served by a centralized digital offering of local sales, much Sunday newspapers are the centralized print source.

“Print circulars are portable and you can take them into the store,” Mr. Thomsen said. “With mobile tools that becomes a lot more convenient for people and easier to do.

“Our vision is that we are building an immersive and social mobile shopping experience that ultimately helps people to discover great opportunities to shop and save at nearby retailers,” he said.

“We are starting with these national retailers participating in the platform and then in the coming months we will be rolling in regional retailers. Later this year in December we will be rolling in the hyperlocal mom-and-pop retailers.”

Broader mobile availability
Currently, mobile users can go to the Find & Save site, which is available on desktop, tablets and smartphones, to access local circulars from many leading retailers.

Starting this week, the program is also rolling out to the mobile Web sites and apps of newspapers in the top 50 DMAs.

This summer, Find & Save will introduce its own native apps with enhanced functionality such as geo-location alerts.

In addition to broader mobile availability, Find & Save has been revamped with new features.

Users can browse local sales by retailer, category, item and user-generated collections that are popular with the community.

Additionally, users will be able to create lists of sales items that they are interested in that can be saved to view in-store from a smartphone, sent to friends or shared with Find & Save community.

Find & Save will also send users email alerts to remind them when sales they are interested in are about to expire.

Social experiences
There is also a strong social component, with users able to share sales items and lists across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and email. Users can also follow their favorite retailers, shopping categories and user-created lists.

Wanderful was formed a year ago by 12 of the largest newspaper companies in the country, including Gannet, Hearst and McClatchy, to address the migration of ads away from print newspapers to digital outlets. The network of newspaper Web sites gives Find & Save access to over 100 million unique shoppers in the United States.

In November, it acquired the Associated Press’ iCircular, that company’s ad circular offering for mobile devices that included more than 180 publications and 21 retailers.

Wanderful will also work with retailers to get exclusive sales information and product inventory data. The program also includes sponsorships, with retailers able to pay for placement within Find & Save.

The Find & Save platform will be rolling out to 380 newspaper Web sites and apps such as the Sacramento Bee and Dallas Morning News so that when users able to click on the “Shopping” tab for these digital properties they will be accessing Find & Save content.

Find & Save will be promoted throughout the newspapers’ digital and print properties.

“It is about exposing people to great sales in their neighborhood and stores nearby,” Mr. Thomsen said. “Helping them collect stuff that they want into their own personal list and then exposing those lists to the rest of the community so that we have a community curated collection of great shopping.”

“When you are out in the world, you can access your lists on your mobile phone and get helpful reminders,” he said. “And then follow content that is of interest to our people within the shopping community so you can always have access to what is of interest to you.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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