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SuperValu App Dials L, for Loyalty

When it comes to winning consumer loyalty, some merchants are learning there are times when it makes sense to phone it in.

Take the case of SuperValu, parent company of the Albertsons, Cub Foods and Jewel-Osco chains. SuperValu recently launched a company-wide mobile app, which does many of the things a shopper would expect – it finds nearby retail locations, allows shoppers to view the weekly circular and helps them manage their shopping list.

But this app goes a yard further in making the harried consumer’s life easier in that it is available across all of SuperValu’s nine retail brand websites. This enables it to aggregate all its weekly ads in one place, so shoppers seeking local deals can find them via GPS. Shoppers also can update and coordinate their lists in real time, so that one family member can add items from home, while another is at the store reviewing it.

The app is part of a broader strategy by SuperValu to move deeper into the digital space. It also will likely make its brands more relevant to shoppers, a factor that should in turn elevate their loyalty.

After all, Supervalu’s convenient mobile feature is basically a natural extension of what loyalty programs were created to do – it eases the shopper experience by offering relevant information and offers wherever the shopper is, when she needs it. And it does so in a way that is non-obtrusive.

For instance, future features may include the ability for the consumer to take a picture of a product barcode, adding it to the shopping list. The app could then also eliminate these items from the list when they are put into the cart.

This innovation positions SuperValu along two dimensions that are critical to the consumer: First by offering promotions and services relative to where the consumer is physically; and second by providing task-easing features, such as the ability to update shopping lists jointly, when the shopper needs them.

What could be next? Years ago I recall a British grocery chain ran a test in which it sent its best customers Palm Pilots that it had preloaded with the items those shoppers bought most frequently. Seems to me the time is ripe to take this step again. Today, a chain could further analyze product-shopping frequency to build usage patterns and prompt the customer with product reminders for the next shopping trip.

You can call it the “repopulate my list” app.

Today’s grocers are capturing purchase preferences via loyalty cards and tomorrow’s leaders will use this information to create a more relevant experience for the customer.

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