The hidden cost of Meijer’s ‘Find It’ app

Articles
September 08, 2010

The hidden cost of Meijer’s ‘Find It’ app

Meijer received some positive buzz for its new ‘Find It’ smartphone app, which allows shoppers to locate more than 100,000 items in its supercenters.

Meijer received some positive buzz for its new ‘Find It’ smartphone app, which allows shoppers to locate more than 100,000 items in its supercenters. In test in four of its 196 stores, it aims to make trips more efficient for self-service customers.

The Lempert Report understands this could save people plenty of steps, lessen the search frustration, and help lead them to items without seeking store staff. It could even suggest companion purchases. But at what cost to Meijer, or any other supermarket considering this approach?  

As useful as the technology may be from Point Inside, we feel that Meijer is probably restricting its merchandising flexibility too much because the app is based on planograms rather than RFID chips (so it’s not real time). This means Meijer can’t move items around and have them reflected in the app – and this could peeve customers who might have walked a long way for an item.  

Also, unless the app is frequently updated, it can’t reflect the latest new item cut-ins or the culling of laggard items in categories storewide. Categories are dynamic, after all, and this app is a snapshot of planograms at certain moments in time.

This is a great concept for the day when RFID chips are cheap enough to be in all items, and the app can be a real-time reflection of where items are inline and on secondary promotional displays. However, we think this application is an example of the tail wagging the dog.

Supermarkets need great merchandising to excel, and impeding one’s own ability to do so makes little sense to us. It could be argued that the app works well enough on the 100,000+ items to satisfy shoppers – indeed, test results should yield keen insights – but The Lempert Report doesn’t necessarily agree that this is the best expenditure of energy or resources to make large-format stores compelling.