By Kirsty Dollisson

Today, and even more so in the future, time poor shoppers are looking for an individualised and relevant shopping experience using the comfort of their smartphone as a personal shopper to make it easier for them. 

So just how can FMCG brands personally engage with shoppers by leveraging the smartphone? 

Australia has the second highest Smartphone penetration in the world according to Google/IPSOS, who conducted a global study including Australia. The study also estimates that by the end of this year, 50 per cent of Australians will possess a Smartphone. Truly embedded into our lives, Smartphones are here to stay and according to Google’s recent US research on Smartphone usage, 79 per centof us are using them for shopping related activities.  n the same research, 69 per cent of these smartphone shoppers use their devices to read product information and reviews, compare products, use their barcode scanner and even watch live online videos. 

With this increasing penetration lies an opportunity for FMCG brands to look closely at their in-store/supermarket strategies and consider how they can capitalise on this highly measurable opportunity. Both brands and supermarkets recognise shoppers are checking smartphone lists as they shop but when a shopper stands at the coalface how can a smartphone help move them to purchase one product over another? The answer is for brands to recognise the needs of both the shopper and the retailer and genuinely add value in a way that can be tested and measured. If an in-store mobile strategy is to be considered, it must take the shopper away from a price only decision, making content a brand’s most precious campaign commodity.

Quick Response (QR) Codes

To date, QR codes are by far the most utilised in-store tactic overseas for mobile savvy brands, but few have capitalised on this opportunity in Australian supermarkets. 

As shoppers become more comfortable using the technology, the incorporation of QR codes onto brand packaging as “label information extensions” and into in-store media, provides brands with the opportunity to establish unique selling propositions beyond price at the moment a shopper connects with their brand.  The opportunity to test and measure the immediacy of their use is enormous, linking visitations with scan data to measure sales uplift.  Furthermore, if “shopper solution” based strategies are considered in conjunction with retailers, the possible uses of QR codes could be extensive:

•    COOK ME  Scan to view immediate recipe ideas, together with a cooking demonstration when they arrive back home. The opportunity to cross promote ingredients and shop wider categories in recipes, is enormous.
•    HEAR ME  Listen or read immediate testimonials from happy customers.
•    WIN ME Instantly see what prizes you can win if you purchase the product, plus every link gets a free additional entry.
•    JOIN ME Instantly join loyalty programmes to start earning rewards and gain extra points for using the QR code.
•    LIKE ME Instantly join Facebook page and building actionable social media awareness using tactics such as review me and win.
•    TRY ME Instantly order a free sample to try.
•    SAVE ME Instantly receive discount.

Barcode scanning apps for price

There are a number of apps that allow customers to scan product barcodes and check prices.  Whilst Smartphone price comparison-shopping is happening in-store, it is becoming a cost of entry that supermarkets have done the work for the shopper prior to entering the supermarket.

In the UK, it was announced last month that supermarket giant, Sainsbury’s has taken the price-match strategy directly to the till, pledging to match rivals Tesco and Asda on more than 12,000 branded grocery lines.  Using independently verified price data, the cost of the basket is instantly compared and calculated against its rivals and the difference provided in vouchers towards the shoppers next purchase.
Similarly, Asda has had a Price Guarantee app since 2010, used by a quarter of a million customers. 

If indeed price-comparison is a cost of entry, shoppers will be seeking added value propositions at shelf if they are to engage with a brand beyond price.
Supermarket apps
Personalised solution-based shopping has been taken to the next level in Australia, with both Woolworths and Coles launching their own apps to help making shopping easier and boost customer loyalty. 

How can manufacturers utilise smartphone technology?

The key for FMCG manufacturers is to consider how they can use similar technology via specific brand apps or mobile friendly websites to solve shopper needs and drive sales.

•    Personalisation: Can you offer exclusive deals for shoppers using Smartphone technology and interacting with your brands, which together with the retailer can be tested for uptake and response?
•    Meal Solutions: Can you provide shoppers with recipes integrating your product(s) with simple shopping lists detailing all ingredients required. Would a QR code on pack or on in-store media take them to your brands site where they can watch an actual cooking demonstration?
•    Barcode scanning  supermarket apps feature a barcode scanner to instantly recognise and link a brand to the extensive database, adding the product to the app shopping list.  Consider whether you can use bar code scanning technology to enable shoppers to download their next recipe idea, or even share their recipes with others to gain rewards and prizes?

The use of iPads in supermarkets

Last month, Sainsbury’s announced it was testing an in-store iPad strategy by revamping its shopping carts with an iPad dock in a London supermarket location.  Hoping to attract tech-savvy shoppers, the carts feature a built in iPad holder and speakers to assist those with digital shopping lists and capture the attention of the Millennia generation.  The new carts even feature solar powered batteries and a sensor that sounds a warning as well as the ability to watch live sports and news via the carts’ broadcaster developer, Sky opening a major new advertising revenue stream and cross sell opportunity right at the point of purchase.

Location-based technology

Whilst we have yet to see it in Australia, overseas supermarket giant Meijer has added a geolocation capability to its app allowing shoppers to locate products on the shopping list.  However the future of marketing in real-time, allowing geolocation to instantly locate offers and promotions is still in its infancy both here and overseas.

There is no doubt Smartphone technology in supermarkets is still fresh and we can expect it to have a long shelf life. It’s the brands embracing this technology now that will have a significant head start in understanding its impact at or on the shelf when shoppers imminently catch up.

Kirsty Dollisson is the general manager of marketing and commerce at TorchMedia