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How mobile apps are transforming the industry

One area of explosive growth in the retail supermarket industry is the number of mobile apps that have come on the market to assist shoppers.

Take a look at the Center for Advancing Retail and Technology (CART), and you’ll see what I mean. A year ago, there were only a handful of apps featured; today, more than a dozen are available, with more coming.

In the aggregate, many of these mobile apps hold the potential to transform, if not revolutionize, the way food consumers interact with retail grocery stores. Let’s take a look at some of the areas consumers are utilizing these applications:

Coupon and discount aggregators: These apps scour retail sites and collect the latest promotional offers, enabling shoppers to find in one place the best (or most current) deals. Jingit, Grocery Pal, KleverShop and Coupon Sherpa are some examples.

Informational: Increasingly, mobile apps help customers find out about new product introductions or the availability of locally produced items, organics and GMO-free labels. Farmstand, for example, assists consumers in finding locally raised produce and meats. Apps like these appeal to content-oriented consumers — people who want lots of information about the items they purchase.

Shopping lists: Probably the most traditional of the grocery apps, this category enables shoppers to create a digital shopping list in advance of a trip to the store. GroceryPal is a typical program, and a somewhat similar application, GroceryTrip, scans recipes and assembles a corresponding item list.

Front-end pay: Much of the recent action in app development comes in creating programs that accelerate checkout and ease of payment — clear benefits for consumers and the stores themselves. One such app is PowaTag, billed as a payment and engagement technology that allows consumers to perform instant personalized transactions using their smartphone through use of adapted QR codes, audio watermarking and in-store beacon technology. The most prominent app in this category is Apple Pay, which is rolling out nationally, and has already been launched by a number of independent supermarkets across the country.

Many of the apps in the marketplace are increasingly becoming multifaceted, offering a variety of features that enhance the shopping experience. For example, Bright Aisle, an app developed by Media Solutions Corp., allows consumers to search for coupons, create shopping lists, build recipes, and sign up for email offers.

Without a doubt, the lineup of grocery related apps will continue to expand. Already, the potential of application platforms to alter the store shopping experience (if not the future of the traditional store) is beginning to be felt throughout the industry.

What mobile apps are your customers using? Does your store have its own app, and if so, what functions does it have?

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