How Retailers Are Automating Their Weekly Circular Production and Do More With Less

Published On: June 7th, 2023|By |4.6 min read|

The weekly circular has long been a staple marketing and advertising tool for grocery chains and other large retailers. To cope with the disruptions of digital media, retailers have experimented with various ways to cut costs, sometimes discontinuing the printed versions of circulars (especially as newspaper inserts) only to bring them back in other ways. Recently, a national grocery retailer paused the printed versions of their weekly ads but then brought them back as regular mailers, with targeted promotions and QR codes to take customers to sale items on the website.

There are good reasons why the weekly circular – in print or digital formats – is an enduring tool for marketing and advertising directors. As Motley Fool writer Maurie Backman noted in her May 2023 column, using the circular as a five-minute research guide for shopping lists can save consumers significant amounts of money – a worthwhile pursuit during high inflation. And, if the circular is well-designed (and accurate), it also serves as a familiar, brand-reinforcing weekly reminder to consumers.

A complex process

Weekly circular ads and flyers (printed and digital) are the lifeblood of a retailer’s marketing program. The larger the retailer and its inventory of products, the more challenging it is to produce compelling and accurate flyers using SKU data that promote high-margin products. Creating multiple versions of that same flyer that support various regions and markets is even more challenging.

As creative services and production managers know, creating an effective weekly circular is complex and difficult. It was always challenging, but with the growth of digital, retailers are under enormous pressure to deliver more content across an increasing number of platforms. By using the weekly circular as a starting point, they can begin to fill that need – but only if they have the right processes and

workflows to handle the flood of activity it requires. And they must do so, very often, using overstretched human resources.

The circular involves multiple departments and individuals, each racing against a weekly deadline and coping with product management details, rapid and time-sensitive changes in the information, design localization and versioning, and conversion to digital and social media channels. This process is complicated even further by the fact that product statement from multiple manufacturers is stored in several different databases, starting with their product information management (or PIM system), digital asset management (or DAM system), and other data sources.

If any of these processes must be done manually, then retailers cannot reasonably expect to keep up. They will risk enormous gaps in their marketing content mandate – not to mention the risk of costly errors in the material produced. Automation is the secret to “doing more with less”, but that is hard to do haphazardly or piecemeal. Facing the continuous onslaught of activity that weekly circulars represent, retailers need a global solution.

An elegant solution

Comosoft’s LAGO represents the ideal solution to this perplexing problem for large retailers, including major grocery chains. By taking a holistic approach to data management, campaign planning, and media production, LAGO gives retailers the luxury of automation while giving marketing managers and production designers the freedom to innovate.

The LAGO process begins with a plan. Retail product line and marketing managers create a campaign strategy based on an integrated approach to product information (PIM), product images, logos, descriptions (DAM), and other connected data sources – all coordinated with a digital whiteboard interface. Products with higher margins or known popularity can be featured, along with a mix of the retailer’s other offerings. Sale pricing is based on real-world business goals and solid data.

After the campaign is planned, it gets transmitted to the design team through InDesign templates automatically. These have the campaign’s featured products in

place and real-time connections to all their related PIM and DAM information. Designers are freed from the need to track down all that data and can focus on designing the finished product. When multiple regional versions are required, the design team can create these easily, using the base circular as the “master version” and creating regional variants according to that region or branch manager’s priorities.

Other time-consuming manual tasks are highly automated as well. LAGO provides an efficient, collaborative approach to proofing and approvals, sending digital proofs automatically to the right decision makers and returning their feedback to the design and production teams, who can send the finished, multi-version result to the proper print service providers anywhere in the country.

The automation does not stop at print, however. Data used to create a circular in LAGO can be automatically sent to the retailer’s website or mobile app, even on a regional level, satisfying today’s shopper’s growing need for up-to-date information on multiple media channels.

As LAGO users have discovered, there are ways to reimagine the printed circular. QR Codes, which have seen a resurgence since the pandemic, can easily be integrated into the LAGO workflow, typically as part of the retailer’s existing DAM system. Just as a marketing manager and design team can easily specify a product photo, they can also include a QR code for that product. When the printed circular comes in the mail, users can quickly go to that product’s sale landing page, genuinely integrating the print and online experience.

“Doing more with less” is much more than a catchphrase. With advanced workflows from LAGO, retailers can make it a profitable reality.

LAGO Case Study

Learn how Lowe’s automated their retail circular ad production for in-store and digital marketing agility


Learn more about how Comosoft LAGO’s integrated PIM and DAM approach can create a truly seamless customer experience. Or book a demo to see for yourself.

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