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How does Shoppers Drug Mart manage digital?

Shelagh Stoneham on creating a personalized digital experience

Stephan Argent, a contributor for Canadian Grocer's sister publication Marketing, chatted with Shelagh Stoneham, senior vice-president of marketing at Shoppers Drug Mart, to get an idea how the company is navigating its way through the digital marketing revolution. You’ve been SVP marketing at Shoppers now for almost a year, how are you settling in? It feels in many ways like I’ve come home. My role is interesting and challenging and there’s tremendous growth opportunity with Shoppers Drug Mart, but I’m also enjoying the people and the culture. The focus is on the customer, everything we do is about the customer and we really work hard to earn customer loyalty in every decision we make. How important is digital to you in your new role? I believe all marketers – regardless of their role – need to understand digital. It’s no longer a test medium and it needs to form an integral part of your communications plan. Think about print, the oldest medium we have; print is now digital along with flyers. In fact, we recently launched our new Shoppers app, offering our customers a personalized digital experience to help them shop smarter. Shoppers Optimum members will now receive weekly offers personalized to their shopping habits directly to their smartphone, web or email, and can load them to their digital or plastic Optimum card. Customers no longer need to print out coupons to take advantage of personalized offers on the products they love. What areas of digital do you do in-house vs. outsource? We have a strong internal digital team that deploys personalized emails to our customers and work with corporate communications on social media. We also work with a creative and media agency to help bring our programs to market. How do you decide to allocate budget between traditional initiatives and digital? Our percentage digital media mix has moved from low single to solid double digits. As marketers we need to be pinball wizards. If the consumer is a silver ball, then we need to anticipate the bumpers, which are consumer touch points, to ensure we offer relevant content and stay top of mind. That means that we need to include digital as part of our media buys. What should agencies do to help make the client’s digital solutions stronger? In my view the digital landscape still feels like the Wild West. Agencies need to keep fighting on our behalf to ensure our media dollars are well spent and that our creative messages are resonating with our customers. What’s the one thing you’d like your agencies to do better? It’s all about the customer – not us. We work hard every day to earn our customer’s loyalty, so it’s about helping us to deliver timely, relevant communication that delivers a great customer experience across all three pillars of our business: convenience, beauty and health. My advice is, every once in a while, don’t be an account executive or a creative director or media planner. Be a Shoppers customer first, and then go to work. Stephan Argent is president at The Argedia Group, an agency management consultancy. This article first appeared on

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