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    Grocers Move Forward with Mobile

    Food retailers focused on the potential sales impact of smartphones are pulling out all the stops to get it right.

    By Sue Sentell, Gladson

    Nowadays, smartphones and grocery buying go hand in hand ? or, more precisely, smartphone in hand.

    From shopping lists and coupons to in-store location technologies and payments, smartphones are the grocery shopping tool du jour. A recent study by Seattle-based Placed that looked at the growing usage of smartphones by U.S. mothers found that 80 percent of respondents used their smartphones for ?grocery shopping activities.?

    And it?s no surprise that Millennials, now a consumer group representing a $200 billion opportunity, are embracing smartphones. A study conducted by three marketing and consulting companies found that half of Millennials who are primary grocery shoppers are ?using mobile technology while they shop at levels twice as high as non-Millennials.?

    Moms and Millennials aren?t the only ones leveraging digital devices: Research from Deloitte estimates that digital technologies will influence $1.5 trillion of in-store retail sales by the end of 2014, with a large percentage of those sales driven by smartphones.

    Grocers Take Action

    Food retailers that are focused on the potential sales impact of smartphones are pulling out all the stops to ?get mobile? and get it right. They?re developing mobile-enabled websites and mobile apps in response to shoppers? quest for greater control, convenience and cost savings through mobile technologies.

    Throughout a series of columns (beginning with this one), we?ll look at how retailers can strategically move forward with their mobile initiatives. We?ll focus on three considerations for a highly effective mobile strategy: product information availability, personalized promotions and brand personality.

    Product Information Availability

    Whether you call it omni-channel, total retail or simply commerce, the fact remains the same: To remain competitive, grocers need to be where the consumers are ? everywhere and anywhere. That applies to your products, too.

    Fortunately for savvy supermarket operators, with mobile websites and apps, complete, accurate and consistent product information can be just a swipe or a click away from their customers at all times. The types of digital product content shoppers are looking for include images, package weights and dimensions, marketing content, nutritional and allergen information, ingredients, and prices. While ensuring that comprehensive content is available for each product on mobile platforms is no easy task, it?s become critical as consumers increasingly leverage their smartphones before, during and after their trips to the grocery store.

    The availability of product information during the ?pre-shop? can influence whether a consumer even enters your brick-and-mortar store. Several progressive grocery retailers are now allowing shoppers to access store-level product assortment information through their mobile devices. By entering his or her ZIP code on the retailer?s mobile app or website, or by using the smartphone?s GPS, a shopper can see what items are available at the local grocery store.

    The accuracy and consistency of this information gives shoppers, once inside the store, the confidence to place items in their carts.

    It?s imperative that the product information obtained via mobile matches the item on the shelf. Any discrepancies in product content among mobile platforms, print advertising and in-store reality can negatively impact both sales and customer loyalty.

    To effectively move forward with mobile initiatives, grocers need to start with a strong foundation: a comprehensive and accurate database of digital information for the products they sell. Once they?ve made this content accessible to shoppers, they?ll be well prepared to execute personalized promotions, which will be discussed in a future column.

    To effectively move forward with mobile initiatives, grocers need to start with a strong foundation: a comprehensive and accurate database of digital information.

    By Sue Sentell, Gladson
    • About Sue Sentell Sue Sentell is president and CEO of Gladson

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