The short story behind Find& Save is this: in November 2011 a group of local media and newspaper companies formed ShopCo to buy newspaper-industry vendor Travidia, which owned the beta site FindnSave.com. ShopCo later became Wanderful Media.
Travidia performed print conversion of newspaper circulars like ShopLocal, which is part of Gannett and one of the backers of Wanderful Media. The other backers include Advance Digital, Belo, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., Cox, Scripps, GateHouse, Hearst, Lee Enterprises, MediaNews Group, McClatchy and The Washington Post.
Ben Smith, of MerchantCircle most recently, was brought in a year ago as CEO and the company secured $27 million from its newspaper partners and others.
The objective of Wanderful, under the consumer banner of Find&Save, is to “reinvent the newspaper circular” and “reinvent local discovery shopping.” It’s primary aim is to deliver customers into local retail outlets.
I asked Smith whether e-commerce could become part of the Find&Save site and strategy. He wouldn’t absolutely rule it out in the long term future. However he said that the challenge of e-commerce (i.e., Amazon) is one of the problems that the company and the site are trying to help solve for retailers (and publishers).
Officially today Find&Save is being relaunched, although the new site/sites have been live for awhile.
Each publisher will promote Find&Save on its own site. For example in the San Francisco Bay Area Find&Save is behind the Shopping tab on sfgate.com (Hearst) — in fact it is the Shopping tab. But beyond its newspaper-publisher distribution (and SEO) Wanderful is seeking to build consumer brand as well.
In addition to its PC assets, Wanderful will release Find&Save native apps (smartphone, tablet) later this year. As you might now imagine, Wanderful sees the tablet as a primary device for Find&Save’s content.
In the same way that people page through newspaper circulars (local discovery) they’ll do much the same thing on a tablet with Find&Save content. But while the idea (and examples) of digital catalogs, coupons and digitized circulars have been around for years, Find&Save hopes to pull everything together in a uniquely useful and engaging way for consumers.
Beyond mobile, what’s most interesting on Find&Save are the social and personalization elements. Find&Save is organized by store, shopping category, community picks and personalized lists. I can follow stores, product categories (e.g., Travel, Office Products) and eventually people, though that capability isn’t live today. And every item can be shared across social media as well.
Currently the site allows users to create (wish) lists of products. Those wish lists will be used to generate recommendations to users about related or “you might like” products. Eventually there will be significant amounts of data (e.g., product demand) that can be used by retailers as well.
Smith indicated to me during a call last week that the Find&Save online today is a down-payment on a richer user experience that’s being developed and will emerge over time, including the mobile apps.
Find&Save gets its product data from a range of sources, including retailers, the web and eBay’s Milo today. Wanderful Media and Find&Save work with major retailers today but the company equally hopes to involve independent local retailers as well.
Find&Save wants local inventory data but it’s not trying to solve that problem currently where the data don’t yet exist. Rather Find&Save will tell you what’s on sale or about featured products and where to buy them locally.
In addition to its various formal data sources, Wanderful sees the community of Find&Save users as a potential source of content and deals information (a la Retailmenot). And it may turn out that the mix of local content and community/social will differentiate Find&Save from other deal, coupon and retailer information sites.
There’s a bit of Pinterest here at the margins, as well.
Years ago ShopLocal was both a B2B services company and a consumer destination. Now Gannett (which owns ShopLocal) sees itself as both a media company and as a provider of marketing services to enterprises and small businesses. It has essentially backed away from its consumer-facing destination aspirations. And while there’s a marketing services dimension to what Wanderful Media/Find&Save is doing the emphasis is on the consumer experience.
There’s something satisfying and fun (for many people) about paging through print newspaper circulars. The stats show the popularity of this activity historically, especially in the Sunday newspaper. It’s also very different than the behavior associated with search: focused intention. Browsing and discovery are more relaxed and a context in which people are arguably more susceptible to influence.
The PC hasn’t really recreated that or replaced the satisfaction of leafing through the paper newspaper-advertising circular. A tablet experience may be able to replicate that and even improve upon it (there are examples here and there). Indeed, with the right user experience there’s enormous potential for Find&Save — especially if social is done well and the company can get the PC-app integration right.