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ARLINGTON, Va. -- For consumers, personalization and exclusivity are among the most important features of a mobile app, according to a new report, Digital Grocery Commerce: Exploring the Potential for Grocery Shopping Apps, conducted by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). This is the first of three studies developed under the Gerald E. Peck Fellowship with Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
"The study suggests that the best retailer app must engage the consumer and encourage feedback, thus creating a two-way conversation," said Nancy Childs, Ph.D., professor of food marketing, Peck Fellow at Saint Joseph's University and author of the report. "By integrating, sharing, creating, reviewing and suggesting, food retailers can drive sales opportunities and foster positive relationships with their customers through mobile technology."
According to the research, grocery apps that "provide exclusive discounts to app users"; the ability to "track loyalty points and incentive programs"; and proactive "identification of coupons and sales offers" are the most important functions for shoppers in the next 18 months.
In contrast, performance issues of most concern in the future are excessive surveys and inquiries generated by the app; "slow signal response time in the store environment"; and "app glitches and cumbersome app navigation."
Current shopper attitudes exhibit a willingness to participate with their grocery stores’ mobile apps. According to FMI’s 2013 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends data, 65 percent of shoppers are interested in receiving information on weekly sales through their mobile app and 72 percent of shoppers are connected to their retail establishment through social media.
"This potential for consumers to access information, savings and convenience through a mobile app enables a dramatic transformation in the retail industry," Childs emphasized.
As consumers demand more personalization through technology, Childs and the Peck Research Panel predict that personal occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries, will become just as powerful to leverage sales through personalized deals and promotions.
FMI’s U.S. members operate nearly 40,000 retail food stores and 25,000 pharmacies, representing a combined annual sales volume of almost $770 billion.