Experiencing too much of a good thing is a rare situation for most of us. But I believe that I have personally hit that point when it comes to shopping applications. As a necessary piece of my job as a retail “expert” I do my best to acquaint myself with those shopping apps that appear to be in vogue. It’s not an easy task as it seems that almost every week I run across a new application that is attempting to enter the fray. As a retail consultant, I am encouraged by the activity.
To support my point, CatapultRPM’s 4th annual Digital Shopper Marketing (DSM) study examined trends around the many tools that shoppers use along their path to purchase. The study covered perceptions and behaviors regarding over thirty (30) digital shopping tools. Among it’s findings was among the avid digitally-aided shopper, these consumers frequently use more than one shopping app to assist them in building shopping lists, loading coupons, finding items in the store, barcode scanning, and even comparing prices across retailers.
In addition to all of these new third partner applications, individual retailers are also offering their own specific applications for their shoppers each including as much utility as possible in hopes that the app itself becomes a reason for the consumer to spend a larger share of their requirements at that retailer.
Together, this activity has created a very crowded and often confusing marketplace. So much so, that I have often thought that if one application could combine the function and the offers of multiple retailers, (especially the ones I shop), I would load that one in a heartbeat and delete all others in the name of shopping sanity. For the lack of a better term for this solution, let’s call it a “Community Shopping App”.
One such solution is offered by Loc Enterprises. http://www.locenterprisesllc.com
The folks at Loc Enterprises have built a platform designed to coalesce multiple loyalty programs for consumer convenience. At the centerpiece of their program is the “Loc Card”, which will identify the cardholder at multiple retailers and activate and deliver all the rewards of programs of those participating retailers. It’s a “big idea” that makes so much sense for the consumer that Loc Enterprises is banking on consumer demand to lure the big retailers and their existing loyalty programs to eventually sign up.
Attracting Big Retailers….Job #1!
But this is a big “ask” from the “big” retailers, as they have always shown an aversion of participating in anything thing that requires an open transfer of data, whether it be offers or content to third parties that could potentially also be a platform for their chief competitors. I have yet to meet a retailer of any size or shape that relishes the thought of providing the consumer a quick and clear comparison of their offers against the best offers of their competition. In addition, most of these big retailers are still convinced that their individual programs and franchise with their shoppers is sufficient to stand on it’s own. Unfortunately, without the big retailers, like Walmart, Target, Kroger, Safeway, etc….the app will likely not gain sufficient consumer acceptance.
So now we wait and see who wins…. the consumer who covets convenience or the retailers demand exclusively ownership of the mobile application and it’s content.
Ultimately, consumers like me, that feel overwhelmed by the number of shopping apps that are currently available, will decide how this all shakes out. If we chose to NOT to shop at retailers that show reluctance to consumer-driven loyalty platforms, perhaps the big retailers will participate. But we must do so in meaningful numbers. We are a “few miles” away from that at the moment, so my frustration will continue for now, but keep your eye on these “Community Shopping Apps”. One or more will eventually break through. In the meantime, I will continue to load a new one each week and give it a spin.