Paper promotion and display materials continue to be important for Etos, but using detailed information about all stores and smart automation has enabled the company to save some 30% in paper use while offering improved customization for each individual store.
Climate, costs and customer: these are the three pillars on which pharmacy chain Etos is basing its business improvements. Business Improvement Consultant at Etos, Martin Otto stated: ‘At Etos, automation is not a goal in itself. It must offer environmental gains, save money and free up time that can be spent increasing Dutch women’s sense of well-being every day.’ With the recent implementation of a new communications platform, the company is killing three birds with one stone.
The mother company of Etos, Ahold-Delhaize, prefers to see a paperless operation. But digital alternatives for printed communications are not only expensive, their energy use and material (plastic, metal) also offer few environmental gains. A complete ban on printing is still not an option.
Tempting campaigns are an important marketing instrument for Etos in retaining its commercial strength in the competitive pharmacy sector. Not communicating means not selling. Otto’s challenge is therefore not so much in innovating but in optimising. In close collaboration with Etos, marketing services agency altavia.unite developed an automated communications flow for the company. This didn’t only result in time gains for Etos but also saved on costs, paper and transport.
Full-service for marketeers
The new flow, known as Store DNA, is an extension of the existing app, MyRetailer. Otto explained: ‘MyRetailer is a communications platform with which we can deliver fully automated Point-of-sale (POS) communications in exactly the right way to our 550 stores. Every two weeks the marketing department rolls out a new promotional campaign with accompanying POS materials: shelf advertising, pavement signs, ceiling hangers and window and floor stickers.
The production of these placed a huge amount of pressure on the marketing department; coordinating the design, printing and distribution was a complex process with tight deadlines. Consistency and overview are the most important features of MyRetailer. At the start of each new promotion, marketeers can access promo presets (settings defined in advance), with which they can generate advertising in the blink of an eye. A dashboard provides a visual overview of their ongoing campaigns.’
Dozens of pallets of promotional materials saved
MyRetailer, the 2.0 version of Store DNA and developed by altavia.unite, enabled Etos to benefit from new, customised functionalities. In this case, this involved refining the supply of promotional materials at branch level. The Etos store formula is consistent, but each branch has unique features that can make a lot of difference for promotions.
Sometimes shop owners’ associations permit pavement signs, sometimes they don’t. One store may have one small shop window, while another has large, glazed facades. There is also a lot of variation in retail space in the stores, but for promotional materials there were just three categories: small, medium and large. This meant that stores that are on the small side in their category consistently received more promotional materials than they could use. And a store with just one window received the same number of posters as the corner store with floor-to-ceiling glass. A lot had to be thrown away.
Store DNA knows the retail space and number of promotional areas including pavement signs, shop windows, checkout desks and displays of every Etos store in the Netherlands. The stores now receive exactly the right number of promotional materials they need and in the right sizes. This saves Etos 30% in paper each year. Otto stated: ‘This amounts to dozens of pallets per year.’
More time for customers
The system also includes the route shop assistants should use to distribute the promotional materials and shelf advertising throughout the store. This saves them a lot of searching and sorting work, giving them more time to spend on helping and advising customers. But what if the store wants to communicate something specific, such as an anniversary or participation in a local event? Do store staff need to engage their own designer and printer? No. Otto clarified: ‘To meet the demand for specific communication materials, MyRetailer also has an online shop offering functionalities including templates and print-on-demand.’
Responding to current events
Generally, Etos plans its campaigns far in advance. At the same time, marketeers want to be able to respond quickly to unexpected events by offering relevant price promotions. For example, it’s a good idea to distribute materials announcing offers on sunscreen and insect repellent during a heatwave. Marketeers can roll-out these kinds of last-minute campaigns immediately in MyRetailer. They can then use Store DNA to filter those stores in the vicinity of recreational areas, and develop pavement signs for those stores too.
Marketing based on data
The success of an automated process depends on the quality of its data. That’s no different for a module like Store DNA. Each store is responsible for its own turnover. Relevant price promotions are therefore a top priority both at head office as well as at the branches. Store DNA offers store staff the freedom to update their own data in the system; an option they are keen to use. As soon as they make a furnishing change (an extra checkout, one less display), immediate adjustments are made to logistics processes, from design to printing and transport.
Reuse everything possible
With MyRetailer and Store DNA, Etos has achieved efficiency gains that really benefit Etos marketeers, the planet and shareholders. And despite the fact that Etos will still be relying heavily on print for its marketing for now, Otto also sees further optimisation opportunities in the near future: ‘We want to reuse everything that can be reused. We can manufacture the carton displays we currently use for seasonal promotions, such as sunscreen, hay fever remedies and insect repellent, from reusable, recycled plastic. And even though we won’t be replacing the store posters with flat screens in the near future, digital shelf advertising is an environmentally-friendly alternative for paper advertising.’
Robbert Jan Blekemolen – IT-consulent at Altavia Unite