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Walmart eyes bigger mobile, digital CPG play with recipe start-up acquisition

Walmart?s acquisition of digital recipe start-up Yumprint highlights the growing role that consumer packaged goods companies will have in helping retailers create compelling in-store offers and advertising.

Last week, Walmart acquired Yumprint, which is a start-up that publishes recipes from more than 2,000 blogs and Web sites. Given Walmart?s sophisticated use of mobile in-store, the deal could highlight some bigger partnerships between the retailer and its CPG brands.

?Recipes are about content creation, and CPG companies that sell food are huge marketers,? said Sucharita Mulpuru, New York-based principal analyst at Forrester Research.

?This is probably more an opportunity to capture onsite advertising than anything that would drive online grocery sales from shoppers,? she said.

Ms. Mulpuru is not affiliated with Walmart. She spoke based on her expertise on the subject.

Building up grocery expertise
Yumprint includes an iPhone app that lets consumers store and organize recipes.

The app also serves as a shopping guide to create lists and find deals at local grocery stores.

Yumprint works by marrying together ingredients and advertisements to create customized shopping lists for recipes.

The idea behind the acquisition is that Yumprint could potentially help Walmart ramp up digital and mobile programs for CPG brands.

"Yumprint?s recipe technology will help us explore a couple of ways we can improve the grocer experience in the digital age, such as customers more easily making shopping lists from their recipe finds when they use Walmart To Go," said Bao Nguyen. spokesman at Walmart eCommerce, San Bruno, CA.

Walmart is known for its prowess with in-store technology that is powered through its mobile app. The retailer's mobile app flips into an in-store mode when consumers are within geo-fenced areas that unlock maps and coupons.

According to Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, Miami, Yumprint will likely first start as a social network for Walmart.

Then, the start-up will start pointing out special recipes with ingredients that are on sale.

Eventually, Walmart may be able to total up the price of recipes at a local store before consumers go to the store.

Walmart?s acquisition highlights the growing importance for big box retailers to work closely with CPG brands on in-store and digital campaigns.

Target recently launched a campaign with Purina that includes a mobile game, Web, coupons and QR codes. The partnership is the first of roughly six similar initiatives that Target will roll out this year (see story).

As mobile becomes a more integrated part of the in-store experience, Walmart and Target both gain important insights on consumer data by working directly with CPG brands.

Yumprint is the latest start-up to join the WalmartLabs innovation center, which is responsible for building Walmart?s mobile and ecommerce initiatives.

Other acquisitions include Small Society and OneRiot.

Building up mobile content
Walmart will also likely gain a significant amount of new recipe content to its Web and mobile sites as a result of the Yumprint acquisition.

Grocery chains Whole Foods, Winn-Dixie. Target and Kroger also have varying amounts of digital recipe content, showing the increasing need for retailers to offer more than deals on their Web and mobile sites.

In Walmart?s case, the brand already has a significant presence on Pinterest, which could indicate what the company has in mind with its Yumprint acquisition (see story).

?I suppose you could also say that insights into commonly desired ingredients will help the company determine the most effective promotions, the best items to stock and finally, they might even be able to help make pricing decisions based on demographics of who downloads what,? Ms. Rosenblum said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York