Grocery App Development. What does it take and is it worth building?

  • Date: Sep 4, 2019

“There’s an app for that” you hear everywhere. And indeed it does seem like everything needs an app. But how do you know if your business does. Especially if you’re in the grocery business, there might not be much space left in consumers scope of attention. They have their go-to apps and yours might just be redundant. In today’s penetrated app market, is there still space for one more player? Let’s dive into whys and why-nots.

Be Where Attention Is At

When was the last time you were on a car going somewhere and reading banner signs? Probably last time your phone died during a ride. Even drivers are not looking anywhere else but their phones, let alone passengers. We’re not even spending as much time on our computers anymore because most of the work can be done on the phone. So, it’s clear where people’s attention is at. Next time somebody looks for where to shop in an unfamiliar neighborhood they’re more likely to look it up online than go wandering around the block. And even if your store’s sign is visible enough and you attract the customers in without the online communication, a good portion of them is going to not only pay with their smartphone but look up nutrition and price info on the products in store. In other words, there is no pure offline shopping experience anymore. Whatever left that is not online and mobile is hybrid.

Loyalty Programs 2.0

Now we all know that customer retention is more important than acquisition, or at least it costs less to keep a customer than acquire a new one. But again, when was the last time you came home excited to go through direct mail advertisement? On the other hand we all unwillingly read at least the title of the promotional emails or the push notifications sent about a flash sale on guacamole at Whole Foods. And that catches a good percentage of users and makes them buy again. And what’s a better way of deploying the most effective customer retention method of giving cash back and bonus points for every purchase than doing it auto pilot through an app? On top of all that loyalty is built through exceptional customer service. And in a world where communication preference is switching from calls towards text, it is essential to provide a CS through texting. And the best part you can cut your expenses through automated chatbots that can handle part of questions before connecting the customer to the operator.

Data Or Die

In a data driven world, it is near impossible to withstand the competition without knowing your users. And while privacy concerns are on the rise, people have accepted this inevitable process of passing their data. So for you, as a business owner, it’s a must to know your customer. It can help you cut your costs and make educated predictions on how to adopt your business. As a smaller chain, of course you don’t need to build an advanced AI that will predict what people want before they even know it, like Target has. But smaller at least basic demographics and contact details is enough to launch a powerful social media targeting campaign.

Adopting to Gen Z

While not all millennials are 100% digital Generation Z grew up with smartphones. The only time they physically go to the store is when their parents take them. And while their purchasing power is still low, keep in mind that it’s an emerging population that will soon be your main audience. So, unless you adopt to their behaviour now you might miss out.

Innovate and Stand Out

It seems like Amazon, Walmart and other big players have already taken over this digital shopping market and there’s just no way you can get a share of the market. However, this game hasn’t even started. Most of the population that is going to be shopping online in 10 years isn’t doing it at scale yet. And the user experience is still very basic and primitive. This market is evolving constantly and start ups that are coming with innovative and creative approaches are even beating the big players. BJs, the membership based savings club introduced this super creative feature in their mobile app. Now you can shop by swiping right and left on the list of products shown to you based on your previous purchases. The whole experience was so appealing to me as a gen Z kid that kept talking about it to my friends.

Going Beyond Your Own Store

Perhaps the best part of running your store digitally is having no physical attachment. You can store your products in the basement of an industrial storage in Minnesota and compete with local stores in Brooklyn. Expanding a physical location requires almost the same amount of effort it took to launch the first store. With digital it only takes acquiring users in new locations and expanding your logistics reach. Scaling here happens exponentially as opposed to linear growth in a traditional store. And if you have a reasonable audience, perhaps the next step is to onboard smaller competitors to your platform that would otherwise not be able to go online.

Building - How To Get Started in 3 Steps

Design - Custom or Template?

First step is to decide whether you need a custom design or can go with a pre built template. This decision of course depends on the complexity of your app and the features you want to have. And here you might want to look back into question of innovating. If on top of standard set of features like inventory management and order tracking you want to build something completely new like BJs has done with swiping in the example above you will definitely need a custom approach.

Features - Make a Checklist
  • Inventory Categorization - Having dairy and meat products in different sections is a must.
  • Search - Decide how advanced you need it to be. Can have additional features like autocorrect and etc.
  • Multi Language - Applicable if you’re launching in a multilingual market.
  • Store Locator - If you’re a chain it’s a must.
  • Order History - Essential to keep track of orders and avoid disputes.
  • Coupons.
  • Cash Back and Rewards.
  • Store Points - your store’s unique currency.
  • Referrals - unique code generator. Needed if you want to acquire users through referral. Common practice in today’s world.
  • Built-in chat - useful for customer service.
  • Payment integrations - Unless you are doing a cash on delivery model, it’s an essential feature.
Development - In House or Outsource?

Now that you know what you are doing in terms of design and features, you should decide whether you are hiring an in-house developer or will outsource it to the experienced company that has streamlined all the processes and knows how to launch and scale the product efficiently. Wondering which way to go or how much it will cost? Check out our article on “How Much Does it Cost to Make an App” or hop on a call with our product expert right now.

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