Modiv Media, which operates an in-store system for scanning and buying products via handheld device, today announced plans to extend the technology to the iPhone and Android phones.
The company is currently testing an iPhone-based version of its service with Stop & Shop that will allow users to scan items for coupons and loyalty card savings, manage shopping lists and go through self-checkout.
A branded Stop & Shop iPhone app developed by Modiv is expected to launch by early summer with an Android app to follow. The move reflects wider efforts by retailers, marketers and technology providers to capitalize on the growing use of mobile phones to research products, get discounts and make purchases on the go.
A ForeSee study found that two-thirds of mobile shoppers used their phones to visit a store's Web site while in physical stores. Nearly half also used their devices to check a competitor's site. It also found that 11% of Web shoppers reported making a purchase from their phones compared to 2% last year.
A host of new shopping apps have also emerged in recent months and years from start-ups such as Red Laser, CheckPoints and shopkick, as well as a variety of 2D barcode technologies from Microsoft and Scanbuy.
What makes Modiv different from other m-commerce start-ups is that it has been providing in-store mobile technology for years, according to John Caron, the company's senior vice president of marketing. "While many app vendors are breaking into retail for the first time, we've been working with grocers for 10 years on systems that feature handheld devices," he said.
Its main product, called Modiv Shopper, provides store customers with Motorola-made mobile devices, referred to as "Scan It! guns." They scan product barcodes and receive targeted offers and ads, based on their past purchases. People access the devices from an in-store rack by swiping their loyalty cards through a reader.
The Modiv gadget is also integrated with a retailer's point-of-sale system so customers use the self-checkout area to scan an "end of order" barcode, which records the full shopping trip. The company says more than $1 billion a year of retail sales are processed through its system from 2 million shoppers.
In addition to Stop & Shop, Modiv has also partnered with supermarket chains, including Giant, Ukrop's, Giant Eagle and Roche Bros. Brands that deliver offers and promotional messages via the Modiv Shopper include Nestle, Heinz, Dannon, Dole and Kraft Foods.
With the launch of its new Modiv Mobile service, the company will extend its technology to smartphone apps so consumers can get the same functionality on their own devices. We're porting the whole 'gun' experience over to the iPhone," said Caron. That also includes using the app to activate the self-serve checkout process.
Despite the increased interest and activity around mobile shopping, the actual experience is still far from being a seamless process. Caron said that after two months' testing its new iPhone app for Stop & Shop, "one thing that people like is that it actually works." He added that Modiv is also in talks with other retailers about creating similar mobile apps for their stores.