M-Assisted Retailing: Insights on Grocery Store Apps

M-Assisted Retailing: Insights on Grocery Store Apps

October 16, 2013

Annette Maggi, MS, RD, LD

RDBA Executive Director

As the digital world continues to explode, retailers are strategizing the best way to leverage this technology to meet shoppers' needs.  Understanding both technology considerations as well as shopper needs is key to building a meaningful strategy for retail customers.  To explore this area, the Food Marketing Institute presented a webinar titled "Digital Grocery Commerce: Exploring Potential Grocery Shopping Apps."

Insights from the webinar indicate that only 10-16% of shoppers purchase groceries online, and a tipping point on this trend isn't in sight.  At the same time, smartphone adoption is at 58% of consumers and 70% of shoppers want a digital relationship with their retailer.  They suggest this digital relationship needs to be interactive, and the recommendation is for three-way engagement with the retailer, the shopper, and other shoppers sharing discussion and information.  One website showcased as an ideal example of this three-way engagement is mystarbucksidea.com, where consumers can suggest ideas, vote on other contributors' ideas, and interact with Starbuck's employees.

What’s the primary reason consumers don’t purchase groceries online?  Shoppers want a hands-on experience.   They like to browse and enjoy the sensual experience of shopping for food.  At the same time, they look to their retailer to provide coupons, recipes and price comparisons digitally.

Shoppers use different digital tools based on what they are doing at the time.  For example, a consumer planning menus or cooking is more likely to be on a tablet while smart phones are the most frequently used device while grocery shopping.   Consumers are looking for the following benefits from their retailers in the digital realm:

  • Convenience -- ability to create shopping lists, weekly circular, recipe recommendations
  • Economics--price comparisons, exclusive discounts and offers, ability to track spending during shopping trip
  • Personalization -- remember past shopping history, dietary recommendations, product recommendations

Retailers offering their shoppers an app or other digital tools need to ensure hardware and software work flawlessly.  Shoppers express concern with the impact of apps on battery life and memory, glitches in the programs, and the frequency of updates and surveys.

The FMI webinar shared valuable insight on consumer wants from and usage of digital tools related to grocery shopping.  This emerging area presents an opportunity for retail dietitians to partner internally to ensure health promotion benefits are included in the shopper's digital engagement with their retailer.