Consumers are going mobile in-store and ahead of grocery trips: Advantage Shopper Outlook

Michael Browne

Across all market demographics, ages and regions, shoppers are clicking, swiping and scrolling their way through their visits to the grocery store.

Nearly one in three grocery shoppers uses their mobile device while shopping, and more than 40% say mobile apps and updates are important services they consider when deciding where to shop for groceries and household items.

That’s according to the latest findings from the Advantage 2024 Shopper Outlook survey, which finds that digital and mobile services are not just for online grocery shoppers looking for pickup or delivery.

The report, which polled more than 8,000 U.S. grocery shoppers, is produced by Advantage Solutions, a leading business solutions provider that serves most large U.S. retailers and more than 3,500 consumer packaged goods companies.

“We’re seeing in-store shoppers using their mobile devices for everything from checking their shopping lists to finding digital coupons, comparing prices and more,” says Jill Blanchard, president of enterprise client solutions at Advantage Solutions.

For most consumers, she says, the shopping trip begins long before they enter the store. More than half of shoppers say they visit store websites for promotions before their visit, according to the survey.

And once there, they use their phones to find the location of a product in the store, scan QR codes, check recipes and menus and look up ingredients.

The ubiquity of mobile devices, which enable easy and quick comparison shopping, allows retailers to deliver promotions and coupons to shoppers when they need them most — in-store, Blanchard says.

Nearly a quarter of shoppers report they visit websites while in-store. Other in-store uses of promotional media include store loyalty apps (41%), digital coupon websites (28%) and brand/product websites (16%).

“For retailers, digital engagement is a huge opportunity to reach consumers in that final step in their path to purchase,” Blanchard says. “Connecting with consumers as they’re shopping, through deals and promotions, can have significant impact in driving incremental purchases.”

Blanchard also notes that in the recent Q2 Advantage Outlook survey, 35% of retailers say digital programs are a top strategy for growing baskets, and 38% say the same for driving trips to the store.

Generation gap

While mobile usage before shopping and while inside stores crosses all demographics, how varying shopper groups use their devices can differ.

Boomers, for instance, are more likely to engage with traditional promotional media such as in-store circulars and printed coupons. But two-thirds also visit store websites either before or during their shopping trip, and more than half check out digital coupon websites before or during their visit.

Millennials, conversely, are more likely than the average shopper to use a wider variety of digital promotional media before and during their shopping trips, with much higher percentages engaging with store websites and using loyalty apps, digital coupon sites and brand/product websites.

“By understanding which promotional media strategies resonate most with each generation, retailers can better target shoppers in the most optimal way, whether it’s before the store or in-store,” Blanchard says.

Reaching all digital users

All this in-store activity doesn’t mean pure-play online grocery shopping is going anywhere.

Three-quarters of shoppers say the ability to purchase products directly online from a retailer is important (with 36% saying “very important”), but retailers should recognize that in-store shoppers can be just as digitally engaged as the pickup and delivery crowd, Blanchard says.

“Digital services like mobile apps, websites and online ordering are important to all shoppers,” Blanchard says. “So, retailers should invest in resources that enhance the experience of in-store shoppers who use digital services.”

Additional highlights from the Advantage Shopper Outlook:

Click here for a free download of the full report.

The Advantage 2024 Shopper Outlook was sponsored by Advantage Customer Experience; Ajinomoto; Pete & Gerry’s; RIOT Energy; StarKist; Daisy Brand; Musco Food Corp.; The Krusteaz Company; Reynolds Consumer Products; Upfield; and Utz Brands.