The Internet has revolutionized nearly every industry and, as technology has continued to advance to make online connectivity even more widespread, mobile tech has played a significant role in the revolution.

Food retailers are no exception when it comes to adopting mobile technologies to modernize their industry. To retain current customers and win over new ones, grocery store chains are implementing solutions that offer unique mobile experiences for users in order to provide convenience, grow brand awareness, and build customer loyalty.

Why should grocery chains go mobile?

Besides the overall rise in mobile shopping in recent years, evident in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Total Retail Survey for 2017, there are many other reasons why grocery chains and those in the food retail industry should implement mobile solutions for their businesses.

Total Retail Survey for 2017

Keeping up with competition

Many grocery chains are leveraging the power of mobile technology to keep up with competitors. Modern customers use mobile as a means of accessibility, as well as convenience. Businesses who are able to adapt to the changing world and provide seamless shopping experiences by means of integrating mobile solutions are more likely to convert users into loyal customers.

Enhancing the brand

In order to promote their brand, grocery chains often apply the omnichannel approach to appeal to all consumer groups and mobile is becoming a significant part of this approach. By providing tech-savvy shoppers with a mobile, interactive, and high-velocity customer experience, grocers increase their chances of creating a lasting effect that amplifies their brand, while also resonating with the user.

Data-driven marketing

Сustomers are more value-driven than price-driven nowadays. Providing them with easy access to the necessary information about a product will increase the chances of them purchasing it.

A grocery mobile app can give customers this necessary data, while simultaneously collecting analytics to help businesses adapt their offerings to consumer needs. Data-driven marketing will enable grocery chains to monitor and plan product supply based on customer feedback and demand.


Digitalization has drastically transformed the way shopping is done, making it more accessible than ever. By means of mobile sites and apps, businesses give their customers the opportunity to have individual and unique shopping experiences in which every consumer is at the center of their own purchasing scenario. In this way, grocery chains can engage with customers on a more personal level, giving them 24/7 access to products and helping them curate their shopping experience.

Building well-crafted loyalty programs

To reward purchasing behavior and increase a customer’s urge to stay loyal to a particular brand, grocery chains can also turn to the mobile environment to deliver loyalty programs that offer benefits to entice and retain customers.

Gamification of loyalty programs, using the principles of the Endowed Progress Effect, helps retailers leverage the effectiveness of push notifications to alert customers of new rewards available or limited time offers in which spending money can earn them bonus rewards points.

Integrating the mobile app with the in-store experience

Brands can utilize mobile apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, making them more efficient and enjoyable for regular customers, as well as first-time shoppers. For example, grocery chains could use mobile apps to provide instant, detailed product information or to help customers find the location of a specific item. Apps that use location would also be able to provide alerts for special offerings as a buyer is walking down the aisle, providing extra value to the shopper while making their shopping experience more pleasant.

Mobile payments

Various mobile payment systems are available today in different countries and regions. Since many people are moving away from credit cards to perform transactions via apps, a mobile payment system can be easily integrated into an app to help deliver a seamless grocery shopping experience. An integrated mobile payment system adds convenience, as well as the ability to serve more customers who want to order and purchase their items directly through an app instead of in-store.

Getting feedback from buyers

To better understand the way a grocery chain operates, apps can be utilized to collect feedback from shoppers. Retailers could enable customers to send requests or provide reviews for items which will help them improve their offerings.

Accumulating data directly from customers will allow different locations to tailor their in-store shopping experience, while helping them monitor the overall demand and supply of a particular store.

Types of mobile apps for grocery stores

Mobile apps are modifying the shopping behavior of consumers when it comes to searching for a product, purchasing it, consuming it, and enjoying the after-sales experience. A variety of apps are available in the grocery store industry that touch on some or all of these aspects.

Types of mobile apps

Current mobile innovations in the food retail space

Some of the world’s largest brands have already begun using mobile tech to innovate how consumers purchase products.

Amazon Go

We all know Amazon is a global commerce giant, and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The launch of Amazon Go is Amazon’s attempt to disrupt the grocery store industry with its new cashier-less way of shopping.

The “Just Walk Out” campaign introduced this new kind of store in which customers can shop and leave, no check out required. Amazon says it’s the world’s most advanced shopping technology, made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. This technology automatically detects when products are taken from, or returned to, shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When a customer is done shopping, they can just leave the store. Amazon charges their account for the items they’ve walked out with and sends them the receipt.

Amazon recently announced plans to buy Whole Foods, a supermarket chain in the U.S., further working towards their efforts to revolutionize how people shop for groceries.


Walmart is one of the largest food retailers in the U.S. and it has chosen mobile to be a major part of its strategy. @WalmartLabs acts as the company’s separate innovation lab that focuses on technology-enabled shopping.

It's never been this overarching 'turning on a dime' thing. It's been a continual evolution of where we are. Convenience, access, simplicity, and saving money are what customers are looking for, and that's what @WalmartLabs aims to deliver.

- Ojonimi Bako, Director of Innovation for @WalmartLabs

Some of the solutions coming out of @WalmartLabs include various apps focused on various types of users.

The Walmart Shopping App tailors a user’s shopping experience, based on whether the user has the app open at home or inside the store. The app helps shoppers keep track of items they need with its mobile shopping list feature which can create lists using scanned paper receipts. Customers can also use the app to check if the product(s) they want are in stock.

In 2014, Walmart introduced a new program called Savings Catcher within the main Walmart app. Savings Catcher allows users to scan Quick Response (QR) codes directly into the app to compare prices of products, helping the company ensure its lowest-price guarantees for customers.

Search My Store is another feature within the Walmart app that provides turn-by-turn directions to specific items in a store. Walmart became one of the first retailers to geofence all 4,300 of its stores, mapping physical spaces to trigger alerts whenever a user enters a particular store with a mobile device. The feature empowers consumers to find the items they need, without having to seek the assistance of a store associate.

Walmart has also released two other apps, Walmart Grocery and WalmartOne. The Walmart Grocery app is targeted at grocery pickup and delivery. WalmartOne lets employees access schedules, paystubs, and other company information.

Albertsons Just for U App

Albertsons, another American grocery company, offers users the Just for U app. Consumers choose coupons within the app and redeem them at checkout by entering their phone number. The app collects information about a customer’s shopping habits and begins suggesting more personalized coupon choices.

It is always our goal to provide services that make grocery shopping and saving convenient for our customers& As apps have become an increasingly popular and effective way to communicate, we are excited to provide the Just For U app to our Albertsons customers.

- Connie Yates, public affairs and communications at Albertsons

Coborn’s and Foodtown

Minnesota-based Сoborn’s and New Jersey-based Foodtown grocery chains have selected the Birdzi platform to provide personalized shopping experiences and increase customer engagement. Birdzi uses an omnichannel approach and enables the food retailers to target shoppers based on their personal preferences, purchase history, and current location.

“With the help of Birdzi’s unique shopper engagement platform we are able to provide shoppers with offers through our mobile app and personalized digital circulars.” said Patty Youchock, director of advertising and marketing at Allegiance Retail Services, owners of Foodtown.


Kroger has 2,778 stores and is the largest supermarket chain in the U.S. The Kroger Mobile App makes shopping easier, allowing users to download digital coupons, create shopping lists, use the Mobile App barcode scanner to add items directly to their shopping list, view weekly ads, search for products from the app’s home screen, and find items by aisle while shopping in-store.

Kroger’s latest innovation is testing sensor-laden interactive shelves that detect shoppers in the aisles via their smartphones, offering them personal pricing and product suggestions as they walk by.

We want to bring technology to life in the store

- Chris Hjelm, Kroger’s chief information officer


Target, another American supermarket chain, makes effective use of its mobile strategy which is headed towards merging their two existing apps into one. The retailer plans to combine the functionality of the Cartwheel savings app with its main shopping app.

The new Target app will get a significant upgrade and have an indoor map that shows the user’s location in the store, including nearby Cartwheel deals. The app will also support mobile payments.

The decision to merge the two apps into one is a direct result of customer feedback. Consumers requested a simplified way to access everything Target has to offer from one destination.

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Integrating mobile solutions into grocery shopping

Grocery chains are moving to the mobile channel in order to respond to shifting trends in shopping behavior. As more and more people rely on their mobile device, integrating mobile solutions into the way food retailers interact with their customers will allow companies to build innovative strategies aimed at marketing products more effectively and adding convenience to consumers. By making use of mobile apps and mobile-focused sites, grocery chains can apply a more consumer-centric approach to their offerings, while also shape their branding potential and build customer loyalty.

Are you willing to transform the shopping experience for your customers and take advantage of the rise of mobile tech? Get in touch with our team and we will help you build a mobile app or optimize your site for mobile!

To find out more about other innovations in food retail space, follow the links below:

  1. Five of the most exciting digital innovations in grocery retail

  2. Amazon is buying Whole Foods — here's Amazon's vision for the grocery store of the future

  3. The Grocery Store Of The Future Is Mobile, Self-Driving, And Run By AI