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    Lowes Foods Launches Next Generation eCircular with Unata

    New platform blends best of print + digital

    Lowes Foods' new eCircular will be live as a standalone online experience in May 2016

    Lowes Foods and digital solutions provider Unata have unveiled a new personalized omnichannel eCircular as part of the Lowes Foods-To-Go website. The eCircular will be live as a standalone online experience in May 2016.

    Lowes' new eCircular "has provided us a way to preserve the character and design of our print circular, reflect all available promotions and offers, and extend our new 1-to-1 capabilities within our online weekly ad,” explained Klaus Werner, senior director of eCommerce at Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Lowes Foods, which operates 97 full-service supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.“We’re proud to be able to provide our guests with a personalized, engaging and easy way to save more when they shop with us.”

    From a historical perspective, noted Chris Bryson, CEO of Toronto-based Unata, retailers have had significant limitations with online circulars: They either use a hotspotted/PDF version of the print circular that doesn't work on mobile and can't be personalized based on the shopper’s purchase history, or they create a standard online grid circular that has limited content and offer capabilities.

    To overcome these challenges, Unata created the online eCircular 2.0 to maintain all of the branding and character of the print circular through adjustable tile sizes and custom imagery. In turn, Lowes Foods is now able to incorporate all six types of content offered in the print circular – some previously impossible to integrate online – including complex promotions, product collections and sponsored placements. All offer types are fully integrated and interactive so that shoppers can see exactly how much they'll save as they build their shopping lists. 

    Through integration with Lowes Foods’ loyalty program, eCircular 2.0 is automatically 1-to-1 personalized for each shopper, displaying the most relevant deals based on individual purchase history. It also tracks the conversion from online views to in-store purchases, allowing true measurement of the eCircular for the first time ever.

    Explained Unata's Bryson: "Nobody has approached the online circular from a digital-first experience yet. Retailers have so far taken the print circular – either a PDF of the whole thing or the smaller assets from it – and adapted it to online. By doing this, they are inheriting all of the limitations that come with the print medium, such as a lack of personalization, not working well on mobile, and so forth."

    Consequently, he continued, "We've moved away from the print version entirely and have built a brand-new experience from the ground up that is specific to the digital medium and that takes advantage of all that online has to offer. By having this clean-slate approach, we have been empowered to build the best possible experience for the shopper, and what we believe is the eCircular of the future."

    Bill Bishop, chief architect of Barrington, Ill.-based Brick Meets Click, applauded Lowes Foods' pioneering role with Unata's eCircular. “To date, retailers have been quite cautious when it comes to updating their print circular to online [because] there’s just too much at risk," he said. Conversely, Bishop observed that Unata’s eCircular 2.0 "offers an easy way to make the leap to a fully integrated, personalized omnichannel version of the eCircular that mirrors those aspects of print that both retailers and shoppers don’t want to lose."

    Commenting on Lowes Foods' adoption of an eCircular "that bridges the gap between the print and current digital experiences in order to provide the benefits of both worlds in one simple and intuitive solution,” Unata VP Matt Paterson said: "This is one step in our larger, long-term plan to ensure that our partners get the most out of their digital customer experience.”

    For a closer look at Lowes Foods' new eCircular, Klaus Werner, Bill Bishop and Chris Bryson will host a webinar on May 12  at 2 p.m. ET, details of which can be found here.

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