October 9, 2013, 10:22 AM

Catalina unveils an in-store mobile platform for grocery retailers

The mobile tech sends consumers location-based, personalized offers.

Lead Photo

The bar code feature of the Catalina in-store app.

Catalina, best known for the technology that lets supermarkets print coupons related to a shopper’s purchases, is extending its loyalty expertise into the mobile realm.

Catalina has released a mobile platform for grocery retailers and consumer packaged goods manufacturers to send an in-store shopper personalized offers based on her location within a store, transaction history, and the items she scans in the aisles with her smartphone. The technology also allows a consumer to add the items she scans to a digital cart and bag them as she goes. At the register, an associate scans a bar code with the total bill from her phone, or she can scan at a self-service kiosk to load the bill and pay.

On the consumer side, the platform offers an app branded by the store, which can come in modules based on which of its three features a client needs: the personalized offers tool, bar code scanning or what Catalina calls “asset protection,” a security feature that tells store employees which shoppers to randomly screen to make sure the items in their bags match their final bills, based on a customer's behavior and rules the retailer sets. Catalina offers its mobile platform in modules because some retailers already have a mobile app with bar code scanning, for example, and just want the fraud-screening piece or the promotions, says David Bairstow, vice president of mobile products at Catalina.

In beta tests, shoppers who used the Catalina mobile app, compared with shoppers who did not, spent 6% to 8% more of their annual grocery budget at that store, visited the store 41% more often, and spent 43% more per shopping trip, says John Caron, vice president of marketing at Catalina. The average shopper has about eight offers in the app at any given time, he says.

“Most importantly for the retailer, it’s driving a highly engaged experience with mobile to top shoppers,” he says. That’s because the more loyal and frequent a shopper is, the more data Catalina has about her to inform which offers it sends. For instance, Bairstow says, whereas an average shopper using the app to scan peanut butter might receive an offer for whatever brand of jelly is running a promotion, a shopper who frequently buys grape jelly—but only Welch’s, not Smuckers—would receive a coupon for Welch’s grape jelly when she scans peanut butter. “And if you are a sugar-free household, we can recommend or drive an offer for sugar-free grape jelly,” he says. “We can really make interactions with consumers smarter.”

Over the next year, Catalina plans to add more specific ways to target shoppers. One way will be to time how long a shopper spends in a store on average in order to anticipate when she is nearing checkout and send her an offer for impulse buys, like an energy drink or a magazine, Caron says. Similarly, Catalina could anticipate where a shopper is going next in the store and use that to select offers for her, he says. The company is also looking into how it can direct shoppers to areas of the store that aren’t getting as much foot traffic.

Grocery stores using Catalina’s mobile platform include Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. and Ahold USA.

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