April 16, 2013, 8:47 AM

A social/local/mobile shopping destination takes on Amazon.com

Newspaper publishers take to the web to promote local stores.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

A powerful group of newspaper publishers created Find&Save in response to the increasing number of readers going online for their news, hoping to reclaim the advertising dollars that have been fleeing newspaper ads. FindnSave.com collects the digital circulars of the 42 biggest retail circular newspaper advertisers, including Macy’s, Kohl’s, CVS and Safeway, and makes them available to online shoppers. Deals that target mobile shoppers based on their location are planned.

Wanderful Media is the company behind Find&Save. It was created through a $27 million investment by Advance Digital, A. H. Belo Corporation, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., Cox Media Group, The E. W. Scripps Company, Gannett Co. Inc., GateHouse Media Inc., Hearst Corporation, Lee Enterprises, MediaNews Group, The McClatchy Company and The Washington Post Co. Together these companies control 80% of the country’s newspapers.

Wanderful Media has reinvented Find&Save through social/local/mobile, or SoLoMo, technologies and today debuts a new mobile site and web site, and soon will launch iPhone and iPad apps. The goal is to combat the loss of local store sales to online retailers, namely Amazon.com Inc., a goal that can benefit national, regional and local retailers and the newspapers they support through advertising dollars, Wanderful Media says.

“Amazon is destroying the local retail business and the newspaper business—without local retail there won’t be any newspapers left,” says Ben T. Smith, CEO of Wanderful Media. “We’re trying to help save newspapers, and you can’t do that without saving local retailers. Local retail and newspapers have had a symbiotic relationship for 100 years. We need to re-invent the local retail experience and we believe rethinking the circular is part of that process.”
Find&Save provides the content and advertisements in the shopping sections of 380 U.S. newspaper sites, Wanderful Media says. Consumers can access Find&Save through a newspaper’s web site or go to FindnSave.com on their smartphone, tablet or PC. They are asked to select a location. FindnSave.com then connects them with a version of the site designed for that location, offering promotions and offers from national, regional and local retailers. The national retailers provide their digital circular data through partnerships with Wanderful Media. Local newspapers sell listings on the site to regional and local retailers.

Going to the Chicago site, the first item displayed is a box labeled Community Picks. This section features shopping lists and wish lists of Find&Save users who have signed into Find&Save using their Facebook credentials and created lists. Below Community Picks is a box for the Walgreens circular that highlights a deal for milk and includes a See All Items link. Then comes a box marked Clothing with four deals and a See All Items link. Then comes a box for the Kohl’s circular with an apparel deal highlighted and a See All Items link. The page, which is very long and designed for vertical swiping, continues in this manner, with more retailers and categories listed.

Users can press the Follow button near the top of any box to add a retailer or category to their personal news feeds, akin to Facebook’s news feed.

“Each store has their own page within the experience, where people can dive into what’s on sale today at Macy’s, and tap into the wisdom of our shoppers through shoppers’ lists so they can surface the best deals at any time at any retailer,” says Dave Thomsen, executive vice president of product and design. “We’re also personalizing the experience by taking what we know from your social graph on Facebook and from your location and from things you’ve done on our site and are presenting a unique personalized view of what’s on sale around you.”

Find&Save enables shoppers to set reminders about deals they discover on the site.

“One of the main pain points is simply remembering a sale,” Thomsen says. “Flipping through something on a Sunday and you see a sale at CVS, a shopper needs to do something to remember it. We make it easy: Browse sales, mark the ones you like, put them into your list, and we then can remind you, today through e-mails and when we launch the apps through push notifications. We’re taking away some of that work people had to do with print circulars, like cutting something out and pinning it on your refrigerator.”

After it launches the apps, Find&Save will be working with retailers that are geofencing their stores to enable location-based reminders. If a shopper elects to share their GPS location with Find&Save, the app will send push notification reminders of sales to shoppers who are near a store.

The newspaper investors in Find&Save make money through the sale of listings to regional and local retailers. Find&Save makes money through three avenues. First, it sells positioning on the site to retailers; for example, during early June, selling the top spot to a retailer that has a Father’s Day promotion. Second, next year it will begin offering location-based mobile coupons that drive consumers into stores. Find& Save will charge retailers for the coupons.

“And finally, we can help advertisers understand how consumers spend their money,” Smith says. “Retailers don’t know what consumers are doing in the print world. They don’t have what we have on the web, which is what people are really spending time on. We will help retailers use data to inform them how to better merchandise their circulars.”

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