For a number of years I’ve been prodding retailers to take advantage of location services on people’s smartphones with several blogs including some looking at the grocery industry.
I was disappointed when they dropped their old app, but delighted to read that Countdown in New Zealand has again showed some leadership with their latest one, designed to allow customers to order their groceries online direct from their smartphone and have them freshly picked and packed for their arrival.
This answers one of the trust questions that I’ve heard raise, which was about the quality of the produce. One of the barriers to delivery is that people want to pick their own fruit based on when they want to consume it. They want the choice cuts of meat, but the store needs to sell as much of their perishable products as quickly as possible.
The other concern is wondering how long it has been sitting in a bag for. Will the frozens be defrosting? Will the product have the longest ‘use by’ time? Many customers know that grocers back-fill their shelves so that’s where they pick their own groceries from.
The proximity element is a win:win because it monitors when the customer is within a 400 meter geo-fence or radius of the store, alerting picking staff to pack the groceries so that they are ready for the customer pretty close to when they arrive at the store. It lets the customer know their shopping will be ready for them. I’m not sure if it gives the customer the option to delay their pickup for example if they want to visit the cafe next door with the time they saved and don’t want it quite so immediately.
It is also great to see that there is a survey component on the app which will allow customers to provide insights on how it it working.
At this stage it is only in a few stores as per this story from Supermarket News, so I will have to wait to try it out, but I think it will be a winner for all. I’ve downloaded it and it has all the features I would expect from the previous experience, including lots of ways to select products including specials, recipes if you’re not yet decided on what’s for dinner and even a store locator if you are away. The only thing I didn’t see was a bar code reader. I’d like to scan products onto my shopping list as I consume products and barcode reading is of course simple on my smartphone today. I’m sure that’s coming….
This is convenient and easy for the customer who knows their groceries have been freshly picked and packed awaiting their arrival; and profitable for the stores who can better manage aged stock and stock turn as well as staffing levels as they get to understand the patterns of when people want to pick up their groceries.
Well done Countdown. This is what I was talking about, recommending retailers get their act together before disrupters like Amazon make it to the local scene. TradeMe really set the example as they did such a good job that giants like eBay didn’t bother coming here. There is no use crying once the competitor arrives, it is better to show them that there is little or no business case for them to turn up.
The next step would of course be to allow me to opt in and be offered proximity based loyalty deals because I am in the neighbourhood, allowing them to compete with convenience stores.