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Latest Mobile App Rollouts Raise In-Store Stakes

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In late 2010 SN published a survey that found only 6% of consumers were actively using smartphones while shopping (for lists, coupons, etc).

That result would be unthinkable today.

 Consumers are ramping up usage and retailers are responding with a string of high-profile introductions of mobile apps and related capabilities.

Here are some of the most recent moves:

Walgreens has rolled out a product-location smartphone app (from aisle411) for its entire fleet of 7,900-plus drug stores, reportedly becoming the first national retailer to enable consumers to view maps of all its stores in a mobile application. 

Target said it has become the biggest retailer to offer the Shopkick app, which uses a points system based on spending to offer rewards ranging from dining gift certificates to iTunes downloads.

Kroger and Harris Teeter are among retailers that recently upgraded existing apps with new features, including banner-specific information for Kroger and prescription-refill capabilities for Harris Teeter.

Meanwhile, Foursquare just unveiled a new tool for retailers called “Local Updates,” which enables them to send promotions or other communications to loyal customers who frequently check into certain store units.

SN Video: Walgreens Brand Development

“It is hard to overstate the impact that mobile consumers — users of smartphones … are having on the food retailing business,” said Michael Garry, SN Technology Editor, in the introduction to his recent SN Power 50 Profile of “The Mobile Consumer.”

In its just-released Trends 2012 report, Food Marketing Institute cited figures from Booz & Co. on in-store mobile device use.

“Once in the store, shoppers use their mobile technology to track their lists (16%), and check recipes (13%),” the report said. “Nearly one in 10 customers checks coupons (9%), tracks their spending (9%), researches products (9%) or checks prices (8%) while shopping.”

That’s a lot of activity. Are we at an inflection point? Possibly. Even more so when mobile payment catches on. Momentum is rapidly increasing and it’s actually a win-win for both sides: consumers gain more power from these tools, while retailers have more capabilities to reach shoppers and to gather data on them.

But don’t feel too giddy about this because the online competition, from AmazonFresh to Peapod, is also making use of mobile tools. The technology isn’t exclusive to anyone, so the name of the game is figuring out the best ways to use it, and actively promoting it to shoppers.

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David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

Carol Angrisani

Carol Angrisani is an associate editor at Supermarket News. Along with covering the packaged goods beat, she also manages SN’s annual private-label and ethnic marketing supplements. Carol...
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