United Links Contest to New Mobile App

United Links Contest to New Mobile App

LUBBOCK, Texas — Until two weeks ago, shoppers who wanted to play United Supermarkets [4]’ high-value, instant-win game had to be at their home and log on to their desktop or laptop computers.

Now, smartphone users can play the popular game anytime, anywhere.

It’s all thanks to the launch of an iPhone app that interacts with “Red Hot,” an annual summer-long game in which shoppers earn tickets each time they shop. Each ticket has a code that can be entered online to see if it’s a winner.

“The app makes the game much easier to play,” said Monica Schierbaum, director of marketing for United, which operates 51 stores under four banners: United Supermarkets, Market Street, Amigos and United Express.

The “Red Hot” promotion will award more than $4 million in prizes, including a top reward of $250,000, a $40,000 backyard makeover, a Honda motorcycle, an iPad and more.

The free, downloadable app also provides mobile access to weekly ads, product specials, a store locator and online recipe database. Likewise, it offers customizable shopping lists, allowing users to place items from the weekly ad or recipes directly on their shopping lists. The list can then be shared via email.

The app is currently available only for iPhone users, although Droid and Blackberry versions are underway. In the meantime, other smartphone users can access a web app by visiting and bookmarking www.marketstreetunited.com/mobile on their device.

The iPhone app is available in two versions: one for United’s Dallas-area stores, and another for its other stores. The reason for two versions is that United is testing a loyalty card at six of its Dallas-area Market Street stores. Smart Rewards cardholders get 1 point for every $1 spent at the store. When 500 points are reached, the customers get a $5 reward.

The app is fully integrated with the Smart Rewards program, providing members with on-the-go access to their account details, including current points, rewards and personalized offers.

Market Street shoppers can also download store coupons directly to their cards. The ability to download manufacturer coupons to cards is in the works.

United consulted with shoppers prior to launching the app. The research revealed that multiple viewing options were a necessity.

“Some wanted to see the full weekly ad, while others wanted to sort it by list, so we provided both,” she said.

At a time when consumers are using computers less, and mobile devices more, the app provides a more rewarding shopping experience, said Schierbaum.

“People are living in a more digital environment,” she said.  “They want to get information wherever they are at the time.”

What makes the app unique is that it’s fully integrated to United’s web environment, said Galen Walters, chief executive officer and founder of Go Think!, the Woodlands, Texas, marketing and business consulting firm that created the app for United.

“A lot of retailers have static ads, which are not interactive,” he said. “Our app allows you to rollover a product and add it to your shopping list.”

The app will soon provide additional services, including a pharmacy component that will let patients request prescription refills, sign up for reminders and create a mobile listing of all the medications they take.

The pharmacy section will be different from others on the market in that it will be fully interrelated with the store app, said Walters. So rather than requiring users to log on to different portals — say, one for the store, another for recipes and another for the pharmacy — they log on only once.