Like nearly everybody else, I started taking advantage of grocery delivery and pickup services when the pandemic started. I had used Instacart a few times before. The first time was when I was traveling with my sister and some friends to Atlantic City for my sister’s bachelorette party (this was in Spring 2018). We were arriving around 6 or 7 pm, and it would have been a hassle to have to find a grocery store and get what we needed. All we wanted to do was go out for dinner and get a few drinks that evening. On our drive there, I searched for grocery delivery services on Google and found Instacart. Within 10-15 minutes I downloaded the app, found a store near our rental, and placed an order for shortly after our arrival time. It was the greatest idea I ever had.
Flash forward to Spring 2020, numerous grocery delivery services became available in my area. My boyfriend and I typically shop at the local Giant Eagle, so we decided to give its Curbside Express a try. You have the option to pick up your order (usually available same day) or have it delivered (can take days to be ready depending on demand). Overall, the service is very seamless and hassle free. What I like about Giant Eagle is that the person shopping for your order sends you texts when they start shopping and throughout the duration if there are any issues.
I placed an order last Tuesday for pickup on Wednesday between 5:30 – 6:00 pm. My shopper texted me at 1:00 pm, introduced themself and said they would be shopping for me that day. I said thank you and proceeded about my normal workday. Shortly after, I received another text that the frozen stir fry mix I requested was out of stock, and I didn’t list any substitutes on my order. I asked if any other similar items were available, and they said yes. I confirmed that I would like that item instead, and since that item didn’t come with a package of sauce like the original item did, I asked if they could add a bottle of teriyaki sauce to my order. They said yes, and that was it. Later I received an automated text asking me to click a link and fill out my name, phone number and car information when I was headed to pick up the order. After I filled out the form, I got a notification asking me to allow location tracking. The store wanted to track my location so they could have my order ready as soon as I arrived. I thought this was really cool and made the whole process even more seamless. When I arrived, I parked in the designated curbside pickup location. Even though they had my location and knew my car, I still called to let them know I had arrived. My order was out within 5 minutes, and I happily drove home to put away my groceries.
This is just one example of how grocery stores are using mobile to improve the customer experience and provide a more seamless transaction. Grocery stores are also using mobile to help customers as they shop in the store. According to Inmar Intelligence, 68% of grocery shoppers use a grocery store’s mobile app while shopping in the store. Furthermore, 71% of shoppers are interested in using it to find items they are looking for, and 78% are interested in using an app for promotions and deals. Additionally, 69% are interested in using a mobile app to self-scan and checkout. (Inmar Intelligence, March 2020)
The possibilities and opportunities for grocery stores to incorporate mobile are great, especially in this time of social distancing, but beyond that as well. As a shopper, I would much rather check my phone to find where an item is located rather than ask a store clerk. I’d also rather check out myself than have to interact with a cashier (especially when there is a long line). With the tech available and more and more customers expecting a mobile experience, the grocery stores that will come out on top are the ones that will adapt and look for smart ways to incorporate mobile technology in their customer experiences.