American Marketer


Making the phone a seamless extension of the in-store experience

February 12, 2014

Patrick Moorhead is vice president of mobile brand development at Catalina


By Patrick Moorhead

When a shopper enters a store these days, chances are that she is using her mobile device to accomplish at least some part of her shopping mission.

Having already used a store locator – 78 percent of mobile shoppers have done this, according to Nielsen – she might use her phone to check her shopping list, scan items, retrieve coupons or all of the above.

But how many applications will shoppers realistically open when they walk into a store? Just one.

All in one
The way to shoppers’ hearts is through a single app that incorporates the whole gamut of possible functions, including store location, scan-and-bag, personalized couponing, mobile payment and shopping lists.

By offering a single app, shoppers can complete their missions more quickly and efficiently, without adding extra steps to the process.

The retailer can become a hero here, replacing many apps with one task-busting tool.

In the past, retailers and brands have thought to build it and they will come. But shoppers do not want the hassle of having to go out of the way to adapt their shopping habits to mobile commerce.

It is up to the retailer to make the transition natural and easy with an all-in-one app that is designed to respond to how shoppers already make purchases in the store. But how do retailers do it?

One solution that is critical to successful mobile commerce is scan-and-bag.

In the bag
As the name implies, it is when the shopper scans items in-real time into her cart for a speedy checkout. It is a major feature of Scan It! Mobile, the in-store mobile commerce app for Stop & Shop and Giant. It allows her complete control over bagging – grouping like items together for an easy unload at home – and to tally her total as she goes.

The Scan It! Mobile app is a proven favorite among geek moms, aka those high-value shoppers already addicted to the efficiency smartphones can provide. (I will talk more about these moms in my next column.)

Personalized couponing is the other feature that should be at the core of every in-store mobile commerce app.

Mobile couponing in retail is most popular at grocery stores. But only 20 percent of mobile shoppers say they get their mobile coupons from a retailer’s app, according to Nielsen.

This provides an excellent opportunity for retailers to align with an app that streamlines the gathering of deals for shoppers, the research firm says.

Our own research indicates that mobile coupons are a hit. In fact, 65 percent of Scan It! Mobile shoppers surveyed said they liked getting coupons, and 66 percent said they wanted more as long as they are relevant.

Finally, the retailer must ensure that the app makes the shopper’s smartphone recognizable to in-store systems and – for the shopper, the retailer and its brand partners – a seamless extension of the store experience.

The app must automatically and transparently interact with back-end CRM and loyalty programs, in-store fixtures and point of sale.

INCORPORATING ALL of these functionalities into one seamless experience that makes the shopping mission more convenient – while saving shoppers time and money – is key to creating a mobile commerce experience that shoppers will return for again and again.

I will talk more about providing value to consumers – particularly the geek moms I mentioned – in my next column.

Previous articles in the series:

Mobile commerce and the consumer packaged goods arms race

Mobile commerce and how personalized value drives adoption

Patrick Moorhead is Chicago-based vice president of mobile brand development at personalized digital media company Catalina. Reach him at