By Hannah O’Mahony, who is currently doing work experience at Limelight PR
Online extension of Waitrose supermarket Ocado.com, which launched in January 2002 and serves more than 13.5 million households across the UK, has become the first grocer in the UK to let you fill your trolley from an iPhone app. The catalogue of 18,000 products can be browsed and shopping lists created both on and offline.
The app, called ‘Ocado on the Go,’ has been developed for existing account customers on the main Ocado website and automatically synchronizes the user’s data between the two platforms, allowing customers to alternate between the two – so there will be no more queuing for ready meals in the post-commute rush.
And it’s not just the supermarkets doing this; both Amazon and Ebay have already developed apps for their customers on the go. Wonderful as this may seem, concerns have been raised by some parties including the payment card industry who have suggested data security standards for these new shopping apps may be a problem. Also for retail brands wanting to make the most of technology, Apple Applications are not the only mobile platform that they can utilize to reach their customers, but it’s certainly a popular place to start. Tesco are quickly jumping on the technology bandwagon too by opening up their databases to third-party programmers.
Clearly there are implications if all the big retailers start to follow suit. Would it change the competition dynamic e.g. would consumers really have more than one supermarket app on their iPhone? Potentially this might mean customers staying loyal to their favoured supermarket. Arguably there is also the opportunity for supermarkets to win that favour through intuitive, well designed and ultimately easy to use technology development. As Leon Mccomish highlights in his digital marketing blog post the Ocado development team seem to have managed to create an application that’s similar to the original website, which their customers are used to operating and easy to operate.
So it seems like retailers looking for a new way to engage, with convenience and mobility for their customers, certainly have some ideas regarding mobile platforms…but whether they will deliver the results and return they are looking for, remains to be seen.