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Why grocers, CPGs should partner to provide in-store digital tools


Grocery stores are considered the “last stand” for non-digital shopping experiences, but a new study by U.S. research firm WD Partners suggests they could attract a wave of new customers by developing a set of compelling and relevant digital tools.

The Supermarket Showdown report said that while most modern-day retail sectors have adopted digital technology, the grocery industry continues to rely on “old-school planograms, end-caps and shelf-talkers.”

Mobile devices are commonplace, and have evolved from a toy into a vital everyday tool. According to location-based marketing firm JiWire, 21 per cent of U.S. consumers regularly search for a coupon on their mobile device while in a store.

A ComScore study, meanwhile, found that 14 million Americans scanned QR codes on their mobile device in the month of June 2011 alone, with nearly 24.5 per cent of them scanning the codes in a grocery environment.

WD Partners’ survey of more than 2,000 grocery shoppers in 48 U.S. states suggests that mobile users would welcome digital tools that could improve their in-store experience.

The survey found that 92.2 per cent of mobile users want to use their mobile device in-store to save money, while 80.1 per cent want to use them to save time and 65.5 per cent want to use them to locate products.

In addition, 59.2 per cent of respondents said they want to use their device in-store to discover new and different foots, while 55.5 per cent said they would want to use it to make more nutritious food choices and 30.4 per cent to learn what others think about items.

The study recommends that supermarkets partner with CPG companies–which have already invested heavily in mobile sites and apps for building recipes and shopping lists, etc.–to provide in-store digital tools. Such an approach, says WD Partners, would enable grocers to provide value-added digital experiences without investing in the tech build-out themselves.

Other proposed solutions include:

-QR-coded signage to provide greater information and context for products and store sections

-Mobile texting to connect customers with store employees when immediate assistance is required

-Integration of shopper loyalty programs with mobile apps and near-field communications to push personalized and special offers to customers as they move about the store.

“Adding digital tools to in-store experiences is no longer a matter of if, or when: It’s a matter of how soon,” said the study. “The time to go digital is now.”

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