Saving within a preferred retailer
The site mirrors the wider marketplace in terms of retail rankings with Tesco taking the lion’s share of business, says Foord; although shares are slightly less pronounced because the site is geared up to shop and switch. In a similar vein, Ocado, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s are reported to sell a higher proportion of fresh in line with wider market trends.
However, the assumption customers come to the site and switch their supermarket all the time is flawed, Foord reports.
Nine out of 10 will stick with the site they start with but they will seek to save money within their preferred retailer and “seeing an opportunity to save £5.00 is a big deal to some people”, he says.
Foord says he would love to extend the site to offline retailers and provide complete transparency across the piece but not all players will release their pricing data.
“We go and get the [online retailer] data, we don’t ask for it but scrape their sites and thousands of websites a day because different ranges are available in different post codes,” explains Foord.
“It is our vision to have everybody on the site. Currently customers come on site to transact or print off a shopping list and may actually go and visit four stores. If we could show a better deal in an offline store then users could print off a shopping list or we could look to facilitate a click and collect solution.”
In the meantime, mySupermarket has switched its attentions to top brands with the launch of brand stores.
Four were launched earlier this year with Nivea, Kellogg’s, Activia Danone and Reckitt Benckiser. Foord reveals two more – Walkers and Birds Eye – will launch in the next month.
These brand stores give top FMCG companies a relationship and dialogue with consumers that has previously alluded them.
MySupermarket provides the platform for consumers to learn about their ranges and to transact while the retailers become the delivery boys, says Foord.
Shoppers are also encouraged to subscribe to the brand stores for access to product previews, deals, competitions and other incentives.
According to Foord, the sites are working really well with 30-40% increases in sales of products in the brand stores. Critically, they give consumers access to a company’s broader product range.
Reckitt Benkckiser, for example, operates a ‘cleaning store’ on the site, showcasing its full portfolio of lines. Similarly, Birds Eye will run a ‘tea time favourites’ store.
In addition to increased exposure, the brand stores provide a superb opportunity for npd, claims Foord.
“Brand stores are completely flexible – you can test stuff you can’t in a supermarket such as featuring a lasagne on a plate with some nice garnish instead of in a box.”
Foord reports Kellogg’s, for instance, is testing new descriptives for its cereals on its mini-store.
Offering cash back on purchases into PayPal accounts is another opportunity for brands.
“It can be utterly dynamic,” says Foord. “For example, a brand could offer cash back on purchases of hand cream but only to shoppers in Glasgow who don’t shop in Tesco.”
Brand stores are one of the most exciting aspects of the site’s current development, says Foord. However, they need control so as not to make the users’ journey more confusing, he adds.
A recent $10m investment in the business, led by WPP, has fast-tracked brand store development alongside new technology, reports Foord.
It is aiming to launch a fully transactional mobile website in a couple of months time, for example. It currently has a mobile app, which serves as a price scanner.
The company is also redeveloping its health checker tool, which compares salt, fat and calorie content and suggests substitutions to reduce levels; and creating new functionality to make it easier for users to find the best deals such as when is the best time to buy a particular item.
“We know a lot about these products and the retailers, so can recommend people don’t buy now, but wait; it’s taking it to the next level,” says Foord.
Funding is fueling international expansion too. MySupermarket launched in Israel three months ago and in Japan last month. It plans to launch its US site in November 2012.
According to Foord, the sites are exact replicas of the UK operation although the Israeli site also features offline retailers; while the US model will be “heavily mobile” to cater for a much more fragmented marketplace.
Foord reveals the company has also been approached by retailers in France to set up a site but is taking it step-by-step.
“We are having to take stock with the WPP investment,” he says. “We don’t want to do too many things too quickly. It’s brilliant we have got the investment but we must use it wisely.”
Revenues are derived from traditional media and advertising as well as the brand stores. However, data is the biggest source of income and is bought by retailers and brands. Banks are also customers, acquiring data as an inflation tracking tool.
“We can see [customer] behaviour around switching and how much of a price change will tip a user to another product,” says Foord.
A recent partnership with SymphonyIRI Group will widen that ability further, providing a multi-channel view of shoppers’ behaviour in the UK – both online and in store.
“Symphony has the technology to mine the data whereas we are a retailer or shopping site. Symphony will take our data and create unique joint products for the marketplace – a view of the consumer on- and offline and spreading the word to their very broad range of clients.”
A talented pony indeed.