Shopping With My Phone Out
How mobile apps are transforming the grocery store experience, writes Arc’s Cindy Tomek
I didn’t arrive in the suburbs kicking and screaming, sad to leave the city. Instead, I cruised in, in my minivan with my husband and daughters, excited to embrace this phase of my life. I also embraced becoming my family’s primary shopper and meal planner. In short, I am the millennial, suburban mom that so many of the brands we work with are trying to reach. As a shopper, I turn to my phone to find deals. As a creative at Arc, I’m always looking for ways to reach someone just like myself. Here’s what I’ve learned from both sides of the aisle.
Why shopping apps work
Shopping apps are growing faster than any other category of apps and for good reason. They are fun. They make shopping easier and they can be used anywhere, anytime.
These days, I always start my shopping list with iBotta. It’s simple: search the app, unlock cash rebates, shop, verify purchase – get money. In cash, like through PayPal. What’s not to love? I earn cash for grocery shopping, dining out and shopping online. It’s a great app to bring to clients because unlocking the rebate involves a moment of interaction between the brand and the user. Think videos, brand trivia, recipes and facts. iBotta is a great product launch tool. I purchased new Kona Castaway IPA because the rebate lowered the cost of a craft brew down to $6. In the process, I learned Kona Brewing Co. was started by a father and son team in Hawaii. I’m less of a fan of the 15-second TV spots in this space because I like to fly through unlocking rebates. However, Jell-O Creations just used a 15-second Tasty-style video that showed me how easy it is to make. (Full disclosure, Jell-O is a client, but this video makes total sense for this space.)
Checkout 51 is iBotta’s main competitor. All I have to do is “star” the deals I want, scan my receipt and collect my money mon-mon-money. Easy, only I find that many of the offers here are repeats of the Sunday paper. I’d rather feel like I’m outsmarting the system to save beyond traditional coupons. However, unlike the paper coupons, I can still get deals on produce.
Why retailers need an app
Retailers need to and are embracing mobile technology because their shopper already has. Digital media time is higher than desktop (51% to 42%). Plus, when using mobile, 89% of time spent on media is done via mobile apps. If retailers do not participate here, they risk missing their customer.
A retailer app that I love is Target Cartwheel. Why? Because I can stack the savings from Target Cartwheel with the sales found in its weekly ad and search over 800 additional offers. The app also just rolled out a product search and inventory map feature, too. In the past I had to jump back to the Target website for this information (which usually meant switching to my laptop). The downside to the app is that there are so many discounts it can be time consuming to use. The sheer volume of offers leaves me feeling like I missed out on something.
Hands down Walmart has my favorite feature of any app right now. (Again, full disclosure, Walmart is a client, but I literally scan my receipt before I even leave the store.) Its “Savings Catcher” scans my receipt and checks what I paid against all other advertised prices at competing stores. If the “Saving Catcher” finds a lower price, I get the difference back in the form of a gift card. This totally eliminates the need to shop around. The downside is that I have to wait three to four days to get the results. Of course this ends up being right around the time I start planning my next shopping trip. Smart, Walmart.
Overall, knowing that retailers are working hard to offer their consumers a great app, I make sure to have retailer apps whether I want to shop at Whole Foods or Walmart. Then I stack my saving apps on top of them. For retailers, this online mobile presence is critical, as it will have shoppers like me interacting with them both inside and outside the store.
Check out how the savings added up on my last shopping trip (you know I went to Walmart):
iBotta: $2 bonus for using 4 rebates
Checkout 51: $3.75
Walmart Savings Catcher: $5.18
Grand Total: $24.43 of $158
When Cindy Tomek isn’t trying to get on TLC’s “Extreme Cheapskates,” she brings smart shopper solutions to CPG brands as an associate creative director and copywriter at Arc Worldwide.