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What Kroger’s app update signifies for supermarkets in mobile

Supermarket chain Kroger recently underwent a slew of mobile application updates, adding location-based grocery list features and targeted weekly offers, suggesting that 2016 will see grocery marketers lean on mobile more heavily than ever to drive sales.

The Kroger mobile app now automatically saves any inputted grocery list items, and simplifies the in-store shopping experience by displaying the exact aisle location of each desired product. Other revamped features include the use of consumer analytics to send users weekly offers based on previous purchases, proving that increased usage of beacon technology and location-based targeting is imminent for major supermarket chains.

“I would absolutely recommend that more grocery chains add the mobile features that Kroger recently implemented, such as the ability for grocery lists to show the location of each product in-store,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta. “Creating greater ease in shopping is what consumers are looking for.

“With the growing curiosity of the Internet of Things and loyalty customers willing to test a new idea, all grocery chains should be taking full advantage of testing new and innovative ways to make shopping a more digital experience,” she said. “The future of digital and mobile in the stores isn’t ‘coming,’ it’s here, now!

“For the first time in history, consumers are outpacing brands in use of mobile technology – time to answer their call and deliver on their requests. Kroger is testing cutting edge ideas in certain markets; if other grocery chains are not doing this yet, they should take notice immediately.”

Mobile shopping companion
This year will undoubtedly see more consumers leverage their personal devices as on-the-go shopping companions, particularly when making in-store purchases. While offline grocery shopping will continue its upward trajectory, consumers in need of making a trip to the supermarket will rely on their smartphone more than ever to minimize the amount of time spent in-store and quickly locate all items on their grocery lists.

The Kroger app, which has been downloaded more than 10 million times, is now tapping a consumer analytics team to help target users with relevant coupons and weekly deals. Offers will be sent based on previous purchases, ensuring that customer response rate remains high.

The grocery chain has distributed more than 2.5 billion digital coupons since launching its mobile offerings in 2010.

One of the newer app features automatically remembers each shopper’s list, and reorganizes it by the location of every product in the store. This allows time-strapped consumers to dart in and out of a Kroger’s location in just a few minutes, removing the need to ask employees for navigational help.

Additionally, this tool will come in handy for first-time Kroger shoppers. If an individual is heading to an unfamiliar Kroger’s store, perhaps while on vacation, he or she will be able to leverage the mobile app to act as a guide that will alert him or her to all product locations.

The app can also function as a mobile shopping buddy in users’ homes. Consumers creating their weekly grocery lists may scan the bar code on desired items as they run out, allowing the app to save the exact name and brand of the products.

The new digital initiatives were designed to augment existing offerings, such as the grocery chain’s ClickList service for online shopping and in-store pick-up, as well as self-scanning capabilities that minimize wait times at checkout lanes.

This past March, Kroger tightened the integration between the planning and in-store stages of grocery shopping through new upgrades to the mobile app shopping list feature that made it easier to find products (see story).

The year ahead
Kroger’s strong push for mobile integration within its stores certainly implies that other similar chains are set to continue their digital-heavy paths. 2015 saw a slew of major supermarket brands implement beacon rollouts and interactive shopping lists to streamline checkout processes, drive sales via targeted coupons and even greet consumers upon walking inside.

The mobile-first outlook is also imperative for marketers seeking to fend off competition from the growing sector of online food grocers, such as FreshDirect.

Keeping a shopping list is easier these days, thanks to mobile

Multinational retailer Carrefour saw a 400 percent increase in mobile app engagement this year thanks to beacons, pointing to the technology’s ability to significantly influence shoppers when paired with mobile coupons in a supermarket setting (see story).

Meanwhile, over the summer, Minyard Sun Fresh Market tapped a mobile shopper engagement platform to roll out digital weekly circulars, personalized deals, product information and rewards to customers’ smartphones to ramp up the in-store experience (see story).

“According to research, beacons were expected to directly influence over $4 billion worth of U.S. retail sales in 2015, and that number is predicted to climb tenfold in 2016,” Ms. Troutman said.

“With numbers like this in play and consumers asking to receive targeted coupons and offers while in the stores, supermarkets that have not implemented a beacon strategy need to consider the benefits and when they will start losing traffic to the competition who have implemented beacons.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York