Thom Nichols


Technology is evolution outside the gene pool

Please build this: A Mobile app to replace Grocery Loyalty Cards and Coupons

Grocery stores need to build a decent mobile app.  This idea seems incredibly obvious, so it pains me that none of the major grocery chains have done it (at least that I know of... if someone has, please let me know I will shop there!)  Here's why...

Little keychain barcode fobs suck and so do paper circulars. 
Making a weekly shopping list is a chore, especially when you care about buying stuff on sale and have to flip through those (sucky) paper circulars to find what's on sale this week.  Worst of all?  Coming home at and realizing you didn't buy something like peanut butter because you *thought* you had one more jar in the pantry.  Now you have either wait a whole week (without peanut butter!) or make a special trip to the store for that one thing.

All of these problems are easily solvable with a mobile app.  There are plenty of "shopping list" mobile apps, but for one to be truly useful it needs to integrate with the grocery store's information systems.

Make the shopper card *Really* useful. 

Ok, I have to scan that damn card every time I checkout if I want 20 cents off broccoli this week.  But what I know is that now you (the grocery store) know how much broccoli I bought this week.  So why doesn't the grocery store do obvious things like:
  • tell me the next time broccoli is on sale?
  • Tell me when coliflour is on sale "because you liked broccoli" (thanks Netflix)

"Would you like to add this to your shopping list?"

Come on!  You know exactly what I buy every week, why do I have to make a goddamn list and have to keep track of what I still have and what I forgot?  Just based on usage patterns, a mobile app should be able to automatically generate a shopping list for me and get 90% of it right every time.  Then I only have to add or remove a few items from a pre-populated list every week.

Also, make that list order items according to the layout of the store.  I can save myself a ton of time (and headache) when I don't have to go up and down aisles to find out that graham crackers are near the cookies, not the crackers.

Checkout, then check-in

A mobile app could go one step farther and let me scan items from my pantry as I use them.  Boom!  Now I can actually keep track of how much of an item I have left, and be sure when I throw away that last jar of peanut butter, it will be on next week's shopping list.

Not only that, but this is a new data point for the grocery store as well - now they know not only what I'm buying and when, but when I'm using it.  I can't imagine this information isn't useful. 

Please please please make it easier for me to give you money!

Why haven't any grocery stores done this?  Probably because their existing inventory systems are antiquated and they estimate the cost will outweigh the additional engagement.  I think this is something where the grocery chain can win for a number of reasons:
  • if you remind me I'm out of peanut butter, I'll remember to buy it
  • if you make the shopping experience less time-consuming, I'll shop at your store
If you ask me, this is an industry ripe for disruption.  But it can't be done without access to the grocery store's inventory and loyalty databases, so it really has to be done inside (or in partnership with) a grocery chain. 

Anyone know a grocery store exec and can make me an introduction?

Category: ideas mobile