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Mobile Choices

Retailers interested in offering shoppers mobile shopping capability can offer a "native" app --such as via the iPhone or Android platforms -- or a mobile app accessible through the web. ShopRite, the banner operated by retail owners of the Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern coop, actually offers both methods, while Tops Friendly Markets, Williamsville, N.Y., goes with the mobile app.

Here at Expo West, Ricardo Rabago, social media specialist for Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets, talked about his company's approach to mobile at a session on retail mobile apps. PCC has actually not decided yet which mobile option to use. "We're in a learning process," he said. Iphone and Android apps may be all the rage, but the costs to the retailer are higher, he noted. Web mobile apps, once built, can be viewed in multiple platforms without going through outside markets.

While it's deciding, PCC Natural Markets' website is mobile ready --"though not 100%," said Rabago. In addition, the retailer offers shoppers specials --like a free cookie or cup of soup -- through the mobile apps Foursquare and Yelp.

The day is not too far off when a mobile phone will be as essential to food shopping as a shopping cart.