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Everybody is talking about the “connected consumer.” For grocers, that means connecting with their shoppers digitally. Desktop computers have their place for connecting, but it’s all about mobile nowadays. The smartphone has become the more effective device for delivering special offers, product information, coupons and so forth. How many shoppers are in the grocery store without their smartphones?
I recently received two news releases about new solutions designed to advance the mobile revolution. The first came from GS1 US. This information standards organization was touting its new mobile scan solution that aims the deliver the "next revolution in product identification for enhanced consumer engagement." The other dealt with the first mobile bar-coded coupons for manufacturers.
Let's first take a closer look at the news from GS1 US to understand why it's important for grocers.
"Consumers are increasingly demanding access to complete and acccurate product information to inform their purchase decisions, and more than 90 percent use their smartphones while shopping in retail stores," said Laura DiSciullo, SVP of solutions for Lawrenceville, N.J.-based GS1 US. "The combination of mobile technology and shopper expectations has created the perfect storm and is challenging brands and retailers to respond with richer information for the consumer."
The GS1 US Mobile Scan reportedly provides better inventory accuracy and faster checkout at the POS. Mobile scan-enabled packages have the same Global Trade Item Number data currently carried in a product’s UPC. bar code, making the data scannable on all printed surfaces of a package. Checkout clerks could scan packages with optical POS scanners without having to first orient the bar code to the reader. This is designed to save time and improve store operations.
The other news release that crossed my desk – or rather arrived in my smartphone email – announced a mobile beaming solution from Palo Alto, Calif.-based Mobeam, which claims to be the first to enable consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers to issue and redeem mobile coupons not associated with a specific retailer’s loyalty card.
In the past, only retailer coupons, which were redeemed exclusively at issuing retailers, were available in mobile digital format. Meanwhile, manufacturer coupons, which could be redeemed anywhere products are sold, were limited to the traditional paper format. The new solution lets CPG manufacturers issue bar-coded mobile coupons that shoppers can redeem with their smartphones at a grocer’s checkout.
“Brands and retailers can now greatly expand their marketing capabilities, while more effectively reaching mobile-centric Millennials and staying ahead of today’s evolving shopper expectations,” said Mobeam CEO George Garrick. “Mobile device makers and payment app developers can now offer true mobile wallets, and consumers are finally able to take advantage of full mobile payment capabilities at the checkout.”
Grocers need to be aware of emerging mobile technologies and their potential benefits. I have outlined two innovations. There will be many more.