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For Metro, lights, camera, and app!

New app and revised website are part of grocer's digital ecosystem

Metro used the Toronto International Film Festival over the weekend to launch a mobile app as well as a revamped website that a company executive says are designed to save supermarket goers time and money.

The website, at, and iPhone app form the retailer’s “digital ecosystem,” Marc Giroux, Metro’s chief marketing officer, told Canadian Grocer Sunday.

“We built this to simplify our customers' lives," he said.

Among the app/website’s bells and whistles: the ability for customers to check their local store’s weekly flyer, write shopping lists, find recipes and quickly get vendor coupons.

Members of the Air Miles and Thunderbucks loyalty programs in Ontario and the Metro & Moi program in Quebec can get coupons and recipes personalized to their past purchasing behaviour.

Giroux said that Metro spent 18 months planning the website and app. Both are geared to help customers through the three stages of grocery shopping: the planning stage, shopping, and afterwards when groceries are brought home and cooking begins.

“We followed customers through those stages and looked to find where technology could add value,” he said.

Research showed that 55 per cent of Canadians write a grocery list before they head to the supermarket. It also found most people plan their meals based on deals in the flyers.

As a result, the flyer forms the backbone of Metro's app and website. Flyer items can be added to shopping lists and a weekly menu function has recipes that incorporate items found in the flyer .

A red “savings” icon, found throughout the app, highlights promotions. Meanwhile, another button lets shoppers see vendor coupons. The discount is applied when the iPhone screen showing the coupon is scanned at checkout.

“We wanted to make the flyer deals and all the ways to save money visible,” Giroux explained.

Giroux said that Metro followed some 30 employees in grocery shopping trips to help develop the app and website, then tested the programs with another 40 employees. After that “we made lots of little improvements."

In particular, Metro strived to make the app intuitive, Giroux said. For instance. to reduce the chance a shopper would have to track back through a store to find an item they missed, shopping lists are broken down by in-store department.

Another interesting feature: Once a customer puts an item in the basket, she simply taps the screen of her shopping list and a line crosses that item off (just as someone might cross out an items on a paper list with a pen).

Shoppers also do not have to choose products by brand. They can merely choose “yogurt” or “bread,” on the app Giroux said.

"If you're  buying yogurt, you know which one you like already. The app doesn't have to tell you that," However, should a person wish to see which yogurts are on sale, she can scroll down a list of available deals.

“We really looked at the consumer in designing this,” he said.

The app and website can also be synchronized to one account. That way someone who writes half her grocery list on the computer at home can amend her list on her phone at work. Or a husband can add to his wife's list.

Users can also rate and rank their favourite dishes and share dishes and grocery lists on Facebook.

Websites have been a growing part of grocery store marketing for some time. Thirty per cent of Canadians visit a website before going grocery shopping, according to Metro. That makes the web the third most important source of grocery-shopping info, behind flyers and cookbooks, according to Metro, which gets 700,000 unique visitors to its site per month.

But smartphones are becoming an important part of grocery store marketing as well. Sixty-two per cent of mobile devices are smartphones now and that figure will rise to 100 per cent in two years, according to comScore.

Smartphones' rapid rise hasn’t escaped grocery chains. Over the summer, Loblaw Companies launched an app version of its PC Plus loyalty program in Ontario and the Longo’s chain in Toronto also added an app.

Metro’s app was launched for iPhones because 75 per cent of visits to are from Apple devices, according to a company fact sheet.

Both the app and website are for Metro bannered stores only, not the company’s Super C and Food Basics discounts stores.

Metro will launch a marketing campaign to promote the app/website this month in both Quebec and Ontario.

The first part of that campaign started over the weekend when Metro sponsored the premiere of The Grand Seduction at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Canadian movie  is a remake of the Quebec film La grande séduction. It stars Gordon Pinsent and was directed by Don McKellar.

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