How to Make Direct Mail Useless
About four of five months ago a Boston-based New England supermarket chain called Stop & Shop shuttered all six of its stores in New Hampshire. The stores had been open for about five years but they didn’t seem to compete well with some other regional chains and especially with Wal-Mart supercenters. Stop & Shop’s prices were higher—substantially on some items—and key products such as meat and produce weren’t competitive in terms of quality. So they pulled the plug, selling the stores to bare shelves in a matter of days with 50 percent off of the pricing on everything. That finally made it worth going to one of the stores.
Stop & Shop had a subsidiary called Peapod that provided home delivery of grocery orders over $60. Consumers could shop using their computer, smartphone, or tablet, and pay for the order with a debit or credit card and their groceries would be delivered to their door. Nice idea, and it probably appealed to the dual-income, mini-vanned families with no time and two or three urchins clamoring for milk and cookies.
Fast forward to last week. I received a 6x11" four-color, digitally printed postcard with basic name and address “personalization” offering 20 percent off my first order using Peapod and my local Stop & Shop. Only the nearest store is now about 40 miles away in another state. There’s a disclaimer on the card saying that Peapod delivery is not available in all areas. Yeah, I probably could have figured that out.
So the real question is, why didn’t someone at Stop & Shop tell the direct mail shop to eliminate people in New Hampshire where there are no longer any stores, or at least none nearby? New Hampshire zip codes all start “03,” while those in Massachusetts start with “02.” This is not quantum physics.