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Do you use your favorite grocery store’s mobile app? If not, you might be missing out.

Two new reports say retailer apps – particularly grocery apps – are gaining in popularity. And shoppers who use them are benefiting in the form of coupons and convenience.

In its new 2018 Digital Study, consumer financial services company Synchrony found that adoption of retailer apps has doubled over the past year. Shoppers who regularly used two retailer apps last year, now regularly use four.

And what are they using them for? Nearly half of users do their shopping through a retailer’s app – but more than half use their app to access coupons to use in the store. What better way, after all, to get a discount on an item that wasn’t on your shopping list? It’s not practical to go home and print a coupon or cut one out of last Sunday’s insert, but you can easily use your phone to open the store’s app and find a digital coupon to load to your account or a mobile coupon to show the cashier.

A separate study by the market research company eMarketer found that 18 million American shoppers will use a grocery app at least once a month this year, up nearly 50% from last year. That’s despite earlier eMarketer research that found the number of apps the average smartphone owner regularly uses is slowly declining. “Users commonly download apps, only to use them once or twice (or never), then forget about them,” eMarketer found.

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So retailers need to ensure their apps are useful and worthwhile. If a retail app does little more than what you can accomplish on the store’s mobile website, all it’s doing is taking up space on your phone. Synchrony found that 21% of retail app users ultimately deleted an app because of a poor experience, while 34% admitted doing so to free up storage space.

But consider an app like Walmart’s, which offers an in-store map, the ability to check item stock at your local store, and mobile checkout using Walmart Pay. Or Target’s app, which allows you to access digital coupons and Cartwheel offers, store gift cards and pay with your REDcard all by scanning a single bar code in the app. Regular shoppers aren’t likely to delete these apps in frustration, simply because they’re so useful.

And not just in the store. eMarketer forecasts that by next year, more than 20% of shoppers will use a grocery app to order food. “While the percentage of online grocery sales remains small, it is one of the fastest-growing online categories,” said eMarketer senior analyst Patricia Orsini. “Shoppers are becoming more comfortable with ordering online in general, and grocery is a part of that.”

Synchrony similarly found that nearly half of shoppers who have downloaded a retailer’s app use it for purchases – both in and out of the store. And 60% of the shoppers it surveyed believe that by 2025, the average shopper will carry only their phone and no physical wallet. “Even though consumer adoption of mobile wallets has been slower than expected, many consumers are becoming used to the idea that paying through the smartphone is inevitable,” Synchrony found.

Inevitable – and maybe unavoidable. In Amazon’s new cashierless Amazon Go stores, for example, you can’t pay with cash. You have to pay with the Amazon Go app. No app? No dice.

So if you don’t have your favorite store’s app on your phone now, you might want to give it a try and get used to it – before you can’t shop without it.

Image source: H-E-B

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