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Metro’s Apple Watch app proves wearables’ role in grocery sector

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July 14, 2015

Consumers no longer have to hold their smartphones to read grocery lists

Consumers no longer have to hold their smartphones to read grocery lists

Canadian grocer Metro is bringing its mobile application to Apple Watch, enabling shoppers to manage their grocery lists right from their wrists and suggesting more food retailers will soon follow.

Metro is the first Canadian retailer in its sector to introduce this functionality, giving it a leg up on competitors also attempting to reach on-the-go consumers. Users will also receive additional targeted offers based on previous purchases, a strategy that has yielded five to 10 times more customer engagement on mobile.

“The mobile app on the iPhone watch is a continuation of a strategy we launched in 2009,” said Marc Giroux, chief marketing officer of Metro. “After launching loyalty programs, we introduced a digital ecosystem which has an objective to simplify the lives of our customers by giving tools to improve the shopping experience and relevant offers.

“Launching on the Apple Watch was really an opportunity to be on the wrist of our customer while shopping,” he said. “One key challenge our customers have shared with us is, as they use mobile when shopping in-store, they are holding their purse and holding their kid, and at the same time shopping for items.

“Before the Apple Watch arrived on the market, we looked for phone holders we could put on the grocery cart, but didn’t find a solution that made sense.”

In-store shopping companion
Users can pull up grocery lists on their wearable device and check off items as they are placed in the shopping cart. Individuals who do not have time to read the full weekly circular will also benefit from the alerts sent to the watch, which include digital coupons they may later view on their smartphones.

The offers are now specific to each customer, and are based on previous purchases to maximize relevancy.

“Now, close to one hundred percent are relevant offers to their past purchases,” Mr. Giroux said. “The engagement of consumers is five to 10 times more because they are answer needs consumers have.

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Consumers can manage their weekly grocery runs via the Metro app

“A real opportunity for grocers is to use technology and bring relevance and information that helps them with purchases.”

Metro rolled out a new feature this past March, titled Just for Me, that enables users to receive customized digital sales flyers.

Frequently purchased items can also be added to shoppers’ grocery lists with the tap of a finger.

“We also use Apple Watch to send notifications about new personalized coupons they can receive,” Mr. Giroux said.

Finding new channels
The food sector now has the ability to tap new channels to cater to customers. Metro is not the only grocer finding a lucrative revenue opportunity on mobile devices.

With Peapod seeing nearly one-third of its orders take place exclusively on smartphones or tablets, the online grocer has redesigned its mobile experience and set its sights on grabbing an even bigger share of wallet from the on-the-go shopper (see story).

“When we looked at how to use wearable devices to extend tools to our customers, we were careful not to increase complexity and provide a simple customer experience,” Mr. Giroux said. “Because the Apple Watch is a small screen and you wear it on a daily basis, we didn’t want to use that as a marketing strategy.

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Digital coupons are slowly replacing paper ones

“You have to be respectful of the fact that consumers wear that every day,” he said. “You also want to bring something that makes sense to the small screen.

“That’s we brought one functionality to that device, which is the grocery list.”

Food retailers also must ensure to allocate enough advertising budget to mobile devices. Grocers can no longer afford to spend 75 percent of their ad budget on print, radio and TV when those three mediums barely make up half of a consumer’s media consumption (see story).

“I think as consumers are more and more connected, whatever the device, they are using that connectivity to have access to more information before they make their purchase,” Mr. Giroux said. “I think there’s tremendous opportunity in our category.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at alex@mobilemarketer.com.

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