By Sue Wilkinson, Senior Director, Information Service & Research, Food Marketing Institute Food Retailers and Grocery Apps

My favorite app is my DC Metro commuter app. I check it each morning before leaving for work and it shows me when to expect the next train and it alerts me to Metro system delays. My DC Metro app is the perfect combination of convenience and usefulness that makes it a key tool in my daily life.

Food retailers have been developing apps that strive to be essential to shoppers, but no one has yet found the format that makes a grocery app an absolute necessity for customers. The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) have teamed up to dive deeper into grocery apps and help food retailers better understand what makes them successful.

The Digital Grocery Commerce: Insights for Enhancing Consumer Connection with Grocery Shopping Apps, conducted by Nancy Childs, Ph.D., professor of food marketing and the Gerald E. Peck fellow at SJU, finds that:

  • It’s Not All Social: Contrary to what you might think, the more active a shopper is with social media, the less likely it is that shopper will use a grocery retailer’s app in a store.
  • Big Time Grocery Shoppers Use Apps: The study also finds that shoppers with large grocery expenditures were most active in utilization of grocery apps.
  • Keep It Simple: Research suggests there is a need for simplification and customization in grocers’ approaches to customer digital engagement.
  • Convenient Features Are Key: While the two most desired app features are coupons and shopping list creation, other features shoppers want include tracking of loyalty points and shopping history; scan and checkout feature; and offering exclusive discounts.

Apps are designed to offer solutions. With this in mind, FMI will be launching our first ever FMI News App in 2015 designed to help our members stay informed about the latest emerging issues facing food retailers. Stay tuned for details and for a copy of the full grocery app research, visit