Progressive Grocer

FEB 2017

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100 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | February 2017 Technology Grocery Apps smartphone users even after app notifications have been turned off, say officials for 3Cinteractive. "Unless you spend money to have more storage space on your mobile device, these shopping apps can consume most of your coveted storage space," points out Mark Heckman, a consultant based in Bradenton, Fla. "But more importantly, each of these shopping apps requires a requisite amount of time and energy to use. For shoppers who are now shopping more retailers — both online and in- store — for all of their needs, it is just not practical to use more than one or two of these apps, at the most." Stone, of Digital Social Retail, places the blame for the lack of success of grocers' apps on the grocers themselves, since they don't give shoppers a good enough reason to download their apps. For example, he says that downloading an app could give shoppers 5 percent off every purchase or 20 percent off a first purchase. "e grocer needs to focus on educating the consumer about their app so that the consumer is fully aware of its benefits and how it could save the consumer money," he advises. "In the end, that's what consumers want to hear. When you can get the mes- sage across that you are saving the consumer money, more times than not, the consumer will not only download the app, but also interact with it regularly." Mindtree's Shukri suggests that grocers should promote the value of apps in terms of price, quality and convenience, or some combination of these three levers. He adds that for now, these apps seem to be more about "first-mover" advantage — and, of course, data collection — on the assumption that mobile wallet and payment adoption will take off at some point in the future. Heckman, the consultant, agrees that incor- porating payment options and other perks will make apps truly worthwhile for the shopper. For example, he points to the SmartPay app offered by Framingham, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms' convenience stores, which enables customers to receive a 10-cent discount off each gallon of gas they purchase when they use SmartPay. "is attractive discount is covered in part due to the much lower transaction-processing fees of a 'private label' payment system linked to the shop- per's automated clearinghouse, [rather than] using a bank-based credit card," he explains. "e technology is easy to use and the value proposition is easy to un- derstand and ergonomic. In this instance, the retailer has made technology the focal point of the customer proposition, and it is working because it benefits the shopper first and foremost, and is easy to engage." Fresh Lettuce and More e good news is the growing evidence that some grocery retail- ers are enhancing their own apps to engage shoppers and provide more value. For example, Marsh Supermarkets is offering its Fresh Lettuce for free download in the iTunes and Google Play stores. e Indianapolis-based retailer claims to be the country's first retailer to launch an innovative mobile app that pays its custom- ers for interacting with national brands. Customers can link their Marsh Fresh Idea card to the app. After engaging with their favorite national brands through short ads and videos, shoppers earn cash that's loaded directly to their loyalty card. Earn- ings are then applied during checkout, regardless of what products are in their shopping cart. "Fresh Lettuce turns our customers' downtime into dollars they can use to spend on anything they want in our stores," says David Palmer, SVP of marketing, sales and advertising for Marsh. "e customers are in control of what ads they see, when they choose to see them and how they want to spend their earned dollars in our stores." Meanwhile, Weis Markets recently redesigned its mobile app and website. e Sunbury, Pa.-based retailer says that both now offer a digitally opti- mized experience and easier navigation functions. "We've worked hard to enhance our website and app to make them more useful to our custom- ers on a daily basis," notes Brian Holt, Weis' VP of advertising and marketing. "e improvements we've made are designed to give our customers a better mobile experience, with easier navigation and an easier-to-read circular." According to Mobee's Grimes, Meijer has creat- ed an app linked to its popular mPerks loyalty pro- gram. With active usage of the app, the retailer can add features around convenience that would other- wise go unnoticed, such as joining department-level savings clubs. Likewise, Minneapolis-based Target's Cartwheel app supports its savings value proposi- tion, which generates increased adoption and usage of social features like earning badges. "ese are examples of desirable virtuous cycles that increase loyalty through app features that are built atop high consumer-value propositions," Grimes sums up. "Tech is not a panacea, and while an app is easy to put together, it's not going to get the job done on its own. It's the hard work of forging unique value propositions that makes things click, and makes it possible for supplemental technology to further that success." PG The grocer needs to focus on educating the consumer about their app so that the consumer is fully aware of its benefits and how it could save the consumer money." —Barry Stone, Digital Social Retail

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