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The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that “supermarkets - recognizing that many customers use their mobile telephones to compare prices and check lists as they shop - have begun to experiment with smartphone-related technology.

“The stores hope to use apps, high-tech bar codes called Quick Response Codes and other technologies to drive sales and lower costs just as millennials, who grew up using electronic devices, are becoming a bigger percentage of their shopping base.

“Grocers have considered incorporating new technologies into the shopping experience for some time, but the industry has small margins and many stores don't have big technology budgets, analysts say.”

One example, according to the story: “Ahold has started a pilot program at three Stop & Shops in Massachusetts that enables customers who download an iPhone app to scan the bar codes of each item they're buying and bag the items as they continue to shop. The app is linked to the shopper's customer-rewards card, so that customers can receive targeted specials and coupons related to items they like as they shop.”

The technology also works for online shoppers, the story says: “Peapod Inc., an online grocery service that operates in 11 states and the District of Columbia introduced its own app last September. Thirty-six percent of its customers have since downloaded the app, and Peapod says about 10% of its orders come via mobile devices.

“FreshDirect, a New York-based grocery-delivery service, also gets about 10% of its orders through mobile apps.”
KC's View:
Retailers have to do this stuff. They cannot be running 20th century stores if they want to appeal to 21st century shoppers.