Mobile grocery shoppers say 'show me the discount'

There has been a good amount of debate as to what drives mobile user engagement. Is it interactive elements, coupons or geo-location? Or features that help speed the shopping or checkout process?

It's all of the above, according to a new survey from Catalina. Savings and efficiency are what motivate mobile shoppers, at least in the grocery segment.

Shoppers are no longer at the beginning of the learning curve. The great majority are already familiar with mobile apps and have used at least one. What these shoppers want, according to Catalina, "is an integrated application that makes them faster, more efficient and smarter shoppers. What they decidedly do not want is anything that complicates or extends their shopping trips."

For all the experts at conferences advising retailers that there's more to mobile than digitizing a coupon, it's important to note that use of coupons is high on shoppers' lists. Coupons, discounts and deals are viewed as highly desirable and useful. These are features shoppers currently use and want more of in the future—31 percent said they had redeemed a mobile coupon in the past six months, and 38 percent said it was extremely likely they would do so in the future.

"It's clear that smartphone savvy shoppers are looking for an application that improves on existing shopping routines and rituals, but will also embrace innovative features and creative capabilities that solve for unsolved needs and make the shopping trip a little more interesting and exciting," noted the study.

Automating the creation of shopping lists, scanning and bagging products to tally the cart total, real-time reminders of special offers on a shopping list, and tracking loyalty and gas points—these are all features that are innovative and new to most shoppers. They not only improve efficiency, but also create a new kind of mobile-savvy customer experience.

Nearly one-third of all grocery shoppers use a mobile app on most shopping trips, and slightly more than that say they have never used one. The barrier could well be the lack of well developed apps that meet shopper needs, primarily those that help speed the experience, help with organization and provide financial incentives.

Shoppers are not interested in extraneous features. They largely don't want to share information about what they're buying on social media and view grocery shopping as a private activity.

Surprisingly, meal and recipe planners ranked low on shoppers' lists of desired mobile features. Just 3.33 percent thought this was beneficial. Retailers have been adding this ability and partnering with third-party apps to help deliver this very feature.

They want better, more personalized coupons and help in speeding the shopping and checkout process. They seem eager to move beyond the offerings of apps in their early developmental stages to more advanced functions including automated shopping lists, real-time coupons based on what's in their basket or where they are in the store, and reminders of items on their shopping list. They express interest in tracking spending and savings while shopping and in avoiding checkout lines.

It's important to note that survey respondents varied wildly in the desired forward-looking features. Nearly every feature tested in the survey was selected as best and worst by at least a few respondents.

There's still tremendous room for innovation, according to Catalina. "Today, smartphone-enabled shoppers are using multiple mobile and online applications and websites because there is no single integrated application that addresses all or even most of their needs," the Catalina survey finds. Shopping with an app is still a complicated process. Retailers and their CPG partners who crack the code will likely reap significant benefits with customers.

For more:
-See this Catalina Mobile Savvy Shopper report

Relates stories:
Retailers aren't playing games, effective apps deliver more than coupons
Sears and Kmart turn on shopper engagement with new mobile platform
Location-sensing helps retailers pinpoint 'power hours' for shopper activity
Carrefour debuts integrated mobile solution
Mobile payment apps are still bad at failing (but they're getting better)
 

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