Technology has changed the way consumers shop for almost everything—from music and home decor, to electronics and travel. While online grocery shopping hasn’t yet been disrupted to the same extent that some other parts of the retail world have, the preferences of grocery shoppers are constantly evolving. The smartphone has entered the grocery store and it’s replaced pen and paper shopping lists, physical grocery store flyers, mailed coupons and customer loyalty cards.

Canada’s Food Price Report for 2017 estimates that this will be another year of increased food prices, with overall increases of 3% to 5% on average.  While these price increases vary by province and food type, shoppers are increasingly feeling the squeeze of higher food prices and stagnant wages. With price sensitivity becoming a primary concern for shoppers, they’re looking for any and all avenues to find deals and discounts, and smartphone apps are turning into their go-to solution. That’s why grocery store owners may need to think about offering something to attract customers on every available platform.

Apps for grocery savings

Grocery shoppers are always looking for new stays to save, but they don’t need to be ‘professional couponers’ or spend hours flipping through local grocery store flyers comparing prices. Having the right apps on their smartphone can make the process simpler and faster. While there are many options for U.S. shoppers, Canadians grocery shoppers rely mainly on two popular smartphone apps: Flipp and Checkout 51. Both apps offer new weekly coupons and deals that can be easily loaded through your smartphone.

Checkout 51 offers brand and product-specific deals, with a few sales for partner stores as well. Users can look at their weekly list of deals, flag which items they bought and simply take a photo of their store receipt to receive cash-back from the app. Checkout 51 can be a great way to get cash-back offers on top of in-store offers and other savings.

Flipp has taken the traditional flyers that arrive in the mail and puts them into a searchable app. This allows users to search for a specific item on their shopping list and cross reference all the stores that carry the product to find the best deal. Flipp has partnerships with most large Canadian retailers and is quickly expanding.

Apps for grocery lists

Not every young shopper slowly walking down the aisle staring at their smartphone is checking their social media—many are actually checking off items on their grocery list. Others might be double-checking to make sure they’re buying the right ingredients for a recipe. The pen and paper shopping lists have been replaced by a wide selection of smartphone apps. These include simple and free apps like AnyList that allow users to easily create, organize and share their grocery shopping lists. The advanced version unlocks other features like organizing shopping by recipes, meal planning and price tracking.

During peak hours at the grocery store, shopping can be time consuming, especially if a customer is new to the store or is looking for something specific that they haven’t purchased before. That’s where apps like Aisle Magic are useful for giving shoppers a better customer experience—especially for those who want to be more efficient with their shopping. While this free smartphone app is only available on Android and in the Toronto market, there are plans to expand to other platforms and cities.

Apps for loyalty

Loyalty apps have been popular with many retailers for years, but recently there’s been a bigger push for grocery stores to offer something similar. Carrying multiple loyalty cards can be a hassle, so it was a natural for loyalty programs to go digital. Members simply open their smartphone and can scan their phone to receive points, check their loyalty rewards and see special personalized offers while they’re shopping.

Big names in the Canadian retail and grocery business have developed their own loyalty programs and smartphone applications. President’s Choice grocery stores offer a PC Plus app, Shoppers Drug Mart has an Optimum Points app and Longo’s also has a Thank You Rewards app. These apps are not only offering shoppers a better customer experience with a more personalized touch, they’re also providing valuable data for grocery store chains. Businesses can leverage this data to better understand the shopping and spending habits of their customers.

New technology means new cyber risks

If your grocery store chain is planning to get into the smartphone app world to keep up with the competition in the grocery industry, it’s important to remember that new technology also brings about new cyber risks. Most smartphone apps collect and store users’ personal information and cyber security should be a number one priority. The personal information of your users and customers can be valuable to cyber criminals. Data breaches do happen; in fact, PC Plus was a victim of a breach earlier this year.

Before launching a smartphone app for your grocery store, make sure your business insurance policy includes cyber insurance coverage.

This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information.