How to Create a Grocery Shopping App?
Until 2020, online grocery shopping was more of a niche industry. While restaurant delivery was already a common thing for many people, delivery or picking up orders from supermarkets was not as popular.
Before, users didn’t want to switch to online grocery shopping because they got used to choosing products independently and didn’t want to pay fees. However, the pandemic made them change their minds. And what’s important: even after the pandemic, they won’t give up this service.
In 2020, online grocery shopping reached 10.2% of total grocery sales, or about $106 billion. This is an increase of 7% compared to 2019. And from 2020 the share of the eGrocery market grows by at least 2% annually, projected to reach 20%+ in the mid-20s.
Custom grocery apps have become not just a nice addition, but a valuable business. Modern customers don’t want to waste their time shopping. They would be happy to place an order online and pick it up in the most convenient way.
So, if you are interested in entering the grocery apps market and are looking to create such an app — welcome!
📱 Types of Grocery Shopping Apps
Grocery apps can be different depending on your business model, even though they all involve ordering goods. Here are the main types of such apps.
Large grocery store chains apps
Often these shops do not want to become just another one on the aggregators’ list. They are keen to get their features and brand message out as much as possible and keep in contact with their customers. Often a regular grocery app is transformed into a multifunctional service with a loyalty program, list building, shop locator nearby and the pick-up option.
|Loyalty Program 🎁: offer your app users items on sale or give them cashback on certain products||Map of Stores 🗺️: add checking product availability in the current store and send personalized promotions depending on location||In-Store Map 🏪: Locate the position of goods in the store|
|Advanced Searching Functionality 🔍: Implement categories, barcode search, voice input to save client’s time||Delivery & Pick-Up 📦: Send notification to inform your customer about order status changes||Membership Options 👥: Give your most loyal clients free delivery and extra promotions in the whole chain store|
These shops also can have their apps. Yes, there won’t be as many downloads as you’d like, but your loyal customers will thank you for being able to see the price and availability of an item in the shop.
|Advanced Personalization ⭐️: notify your customers that products from their «Favorites» are available in the nearest store||Pick-Up 🛍️: help new clients to find your pick-up point using a map with geolocation tracking||Coupons 🧾: provide customers with some promotions that are available only in the app|
|Loyalty Program 🎁: create your reward system with points and offer to pay with it for some goods||Push Notifications 🔔: send weekly promotional updates to keep in touch with your customers||Easy Checkout Process 🛒: Set up the client profile so that after the first purchase, order fields will autofill next time|
Intermediary apps provide a more convenient shopping experience. If the customer buys products from multiple stores, an aggregator allows them not to download the apps of all the chains but allows them to get delivery from any shop near them.
|Advanced Search & Filters 🔍: integrate the «you may also like» screen under research results||Delivery 🚚: add the ability for the customer to track the order on the map||Reviews & Ratings 🏅: invite users to leave reviews about goods they bought to make a product and shop rating|
|Customer Support 🤝: implement live chat with courier during shopping –– customer will say what to do if the item is out of stock||Multiple Payment Options 💵: allow your customers to pay by cash, credit card and implement mobile payment systems||Push Notifications 🔔: send push notifications with order status changes to win the customer’s trust|
✅ Advantages of Custom Grocery Shopping App
Custom apps have many advantages over off-the-shelf solutions. Here are just a few reasons why building an own app is worth it.
This is the most critical advantage over off-the-shelf grocery shopping app builders. Custom development allows you build a grocery app that perfectly matches your business needs:
- You can choose the features you want. Thus, it’s possible to implement any functionality and 3rd-party integrations.
- Also, you don’t have to stick to basic design options offered by off-the-shelf solutions. Instead, you can create a suitable design with your own navigation patterns.
- Finally, you can implement a convenient payment system of your choice.
All this helps to distinguish your app from others.
When using an app builder, you won’t have so much freedom when choosing the look and feel of the app. On the contrary, while developing your custom product, you will be able to meet the audience's expectations and follow all steps of the buyer’s journey. Thus, it will be easy for your users to make an order.
If you already use any software, you can integrate it into a custom application. For example:
If you already have a Loyalty or CRM system for regular customers, you don’t have to worry about integrating it with your custom software. While app builders may support only some particular integrations, custom apps have less limits.
If you have an inventory management system, it will automatically move that data to your application. Then users will see which supermarkets have certain goods and which don’t, so there’s no point in going there.
If you want to add a card linking feature, you should definitely think about advanced customer data security. Custom apps are more flexible –– you will have more options to implement all the security mechanisms you need.
In a custom application, you can implement all the security measures you want: limited number of profile login requests, two-factor authentication, integration of fingerprint or facial recognition APIs, etc.
You should give access rights to hidden sections of the app only to a few people –– your employees, managers, couriers. It may seem challenging to implement this option, but in fact, it is not. For differentiation of user access rights, use protocols for authorization, such as OAuth 2.0. This is a simple but effective solution for this task.
The app can be used to analyze data that you would be unlikely to get when customers just come into the physical grocery stores. For example, the app will gather information on which purchases the customer has made, which shops they visit most often, etc.
You can set up a social login in your online grocery store. Based on the customer’s data from their social networks, you will get more information about their interests and preferences.
After analyzing the information you received, you can make the app more personalized. This will be an advantage over off-the-shelf mobile apps because they are hard to adapt to the customer’s needs.
You can also use analytics to modify your product offers based on customer behavior. We’ll tell you more about that later.
🚀 Top 6 Important Grocery App Features
The set of features in the grocery shopping app is individual and depends on the specific case. In this section, we’ll tell you about the features users expect to see in grocery apps and share some insights on their development.
As we’ve mentioned above, having a personal profile can help you get additional statistics on your target audience. But at the same time, complicated registration and login may discourage customers from using your grocery delivery service. That’s why it’s better to introduce an additional login option via social networks or offer to register a profile after the order, based on the data entered by the user.
Loyalty programs help you to encourage sign ups. There are a lot of possible options how to motivate customers to use your grocery mobile application and spend more money:
- Sales and promotions.
- Various coupons.
- Reward system. You can give users points for completing some tasks: buying goods for a certain amount, inviting friends, number of transactions per month, etc.
- Payment by points.
- Cashback system.
A quick and easy search helps the buyer reduce the time to make an order. This is radically different from shopping in a supermarket, where a person spends a lot of time searching for items from a grocery list. And this quick ordering process will keep the customer coming back to you again.
To make it easier to find goods in your app for grocery, add some search options like:
- Product categories and filters help customers to find a product even if they forget its name.
- Predictive search. The user won’t have to waste time typing in the full name of the product.
- Voice searching takes less time than typing. But there is the problem: sometimes, the app can not understand the brand name.
With the barcode reader, the customer in the shop can find out the cost of the product and add it to the cart. Barcode scanner can be integrated with ML Kit’s barcode scanning API (for IOS and Android) and AVFoundation (for IOS only).
Favorites can also make the search easier. Customers simply open a list of favorite, similar products or frequently purchased items and select ones they want from there.
Improve your grocery catalog to make it easier for customers to choose products. This way, clients can form their shopping list according to their preferences quicker.
For example, in addition to the names and photos of the products, you can mark the products with allergens or vegan goods. You can also invite users to rate the product and leave feedback. Thus, you’ll generate a rating and find out what your customers prefer and adjust their purchases.
You probably realize that if your service goes online, you have to keep a clear eye on availability and promptly update the app’s information. But it would be best to protect yourself against situations when your client placed an order for a product that is out of stock and is dissatisfied with the service. We suggest considering the option of refunds and replacements right away.
Have your customer indicate when ordering which products can be replaced — Walmart has a similar feature. If the customer wants a particular product, but it’s out of stock, the app will issue a refund.
You can borrow a multiple shopping lists option from Target. For example, if your customer has to buy groceries at home and the barbecue, it would be easier for him to make two separate lists. Then there is no need to calculate the amount that the customer has to divide among his friends from one big check.
Map of stores
Integration of geolocation detection is essential to personalize the grocery shopping app. In an aggregator app, the variation of shops depends on the location, and grocery chains can charge extra fees depending on the delivery area.
In addition, the content may change depending on the location. For example, one shop in the chain has a promotion, and customers nearby can be notified about it. Users will be able to identify which shop is closest to them and find out its opening hours.
Usually, Google Maps or Apple Maps are used for in-app integration.
This feature should include different payment systems. With alternative payment gateways, you can retain more customers. Give the option of paying by card, cash, Apple or Google Pay and link the card to the app.
If you have a delivery option, give the customer the option to tip the courier via the app after the order has been made, even if they have paid in cash — often people just don't have small notes.
Delivery & Pick-Up
The basic idea of a grocery shopping app is that your customers don’t have to spend a lot of time going to the supermarket. During the pandemic, grocery delivery services became the primary option. Without it, users could no longer imagine grocery app.
The delivery feature won’t fit all business models, but if you are planning or have already implemented delivery –– here are the key points on how to make it better:
- Optimize your app for your phone –– couriers won’t be able to view addresses from a computer.
- Set up a map for yourself where you will see the route of the couriers. This way, you will be in control of which areas are covered.
- Create a calendar to keep track of courier working hours.
Some companies offer a pick-up feature. Let your clients pay in advance or when they arrive at the shop, and there will be a bag of groceries ready for them. If your app has the wishlist creation option, it will be good to have a possibility to convert this list fast to pick up order.
If you have a pick-up option, you can implement a QR-code system to accurately identify your customer. When it’s scanned, your managers can see that person’s profile and give them the right order.
To secure your delivery service against fraud, we suggest introducing an electronic signature system. Have your customers sign on the couriers’ tablets when they receive their orders so that you know for sure that the goods have been received.
Another option is to ask for an ID before giving out the goods. The same system is used at Costco supermarkets.
If your customers usually decide to pick up their orders, add a map of getting to the order pick-up point, but with the client’s location tracking.
If you’re not sure that customers will be able to pick up the order at the appointed time, you can pay attention to a feature in Instacart. They’ve added a «Someone else picking up» feature to the app, where a customizer can hand someone pick-up instructions and not have to worry about their order.
It will be an effective tool to communicate with your clients and remind them about your app. You can inform customers about new offers and current sales or promotions.
The most powerful and helpful mechanism is retargeting. By using it, you can reach anybody with customized notifications. Users will be okay to get:
- Reminders to finish their order.
- Messages about discounts on goods they buy often.
- Announcements about opening your new physical store near them.
- Notifications about goods from «Favorites», which are available now.
📊 Admin Panel for Grocery Delivery App
Admin dashboard is usually a Web Application for managers and administrators. From this panel, they’ll be able to manage all in-app processes — from editing the list of goods to tracking your couriers. Here are the most important features of this panel.
Using the admin panel, the manager will see when a certain product runs out and needs to be removed from the list. There is no problem if a customer has ordered a product, but it is no longer in stock –– you will have exact information about this in front of you, and it will be updated in real-time.
A lot of groceries now use inventory management software to control stock lists in real-time. With this program, you can implement the function of product reservation. When the customer reaches the checkout stage, he is given a certain amount of time to pay for the products, and these goods are assigned to that order. But if the client does not pay for the order within the time limit –– the product is available again.
If you are thinking about building your inventory management software, feel free to write us! Our team will be happy to help you.
From the same window in the admin panel, the manager can add or delete a product, change its price and add a new category, such as a promotional item or an item that is about to expire.
The administrator in charge of order management will see all the information about the order:
- Customer profile
- Delivery address or pick-up point
- Payment status and list of purchases
If it does happen that a user has ordered an item that is no longer available, the manager can contact the customer through the order management window. He can then arrange for a replacement or rejection of the request.
In this screen, the manager can make sure that the payment has really arrived and can start forming the order. If something goes wrong with the payment, you will be able to understand what happened and for what reason.
All analytics will be stored in your admin profile. You will be able to keep track of different data like:
- Which products are in the highest demand and which are the lowest. If you have a physical retail outlet, you can use this data to see which products can be purchased more and which less.
- The number of orders with home delivery. If this happens frequently, you can increase the number of couriers and reduce the time it takes to receive an order.
- The most eligible price range for customers. This way, you can expand the variety of goods that will fit the budget.
In addition, you can keep track of which days of the week there are fewer sales and possibly increase them by introducing promotional days.
🌟 Case Study
In this section we want to look at 3 different grocery apps: large chain, aggregator and small shop.
This retail corporation started by creating 2 separate apps: the main and grocery app. But at the request of customers, the company combined these two options so that they don’t have to switch between the apps. Now, customers can compare prices, find out about discounts and order products in one app.
Among interesting features the app has are:
- Walmart Pay. Customers can link their bank cards to the app, and when they go to the supermarket, they can pay for their purchases simply by scanning a barcode in the Walmart app.
- Paid membership. Walmart+ members receive benefits, such as free delivery from the nearest shop or the website if the product they want is out of stock. In addition, Walmart+ allows buying some prescription medicines at discounted prices from the chain’s pharmacies.
- Store Assistant. With this feature, the client can easily find the right section. The app shows a map of the store and even the item location. And with Smart Shopping lists, customers will always stay on budget –– when they select an item, the cost of the order is shown with tax.
It is one of the most popular aggregator grocery apps in the USA. Instacart collaborates with many shops, so users are likely to find the store they need. Clients choose Instacart because of some features:
- Simplicity. The app asks for a postcode to make it easy for users to log in for the first time. That way, users can see at a glance which shops are available for delivery around them.
- Communication with the courier. Until the courier starts working with the client’s order, he can still make changes. But customers can also communicate with the delivery person during the purchase.
- Delivery. Fast&Flexible delivery allows the customer to receive the order from the first available courier. This way, the customer won’t have to schedule it for a specific date and time but will receive the order in the next few days. Selecting Fast&Flexible, clients see approximate delivery dates and will get a message when their groceries are packaged and ready to deliver.
This is an example of a small grocery shop in Egypt that doesn’t have a physical store. While developing the app, the company discovered that people often cook with recipes from the internet. But there are times when the local shop next door doesn’t have the groceries they need, and it’s a long drive to the supermarket. Grocety delivers any products for all recipes.
The most interesting feature in this app –– its own recipe page. If customers want to cook something special and unusual, they won’t need to search the recipe and go to the supermarket to buy all the ingredients. When people open a recipe page, they can see all necessary goods to cook exactly this dish and can put all of them to the cart in one tap.
💰 What Does the Cost of Grocery App Development Depend On?
To be sure of how much does it cost to develop a grocery delivery apps, there are many factors to consider. Therefore, it is difficult to know the exact grocery app development cost; any seemingly small thing can change that amount.
However, we have a list of the main factors that affect the budget:
- The complexity of the app and the number of features.
- The platform for which the application is being developed.
- Implementation of third-party services if necessary.
- The hourly rate of the developers.
A custom shopping app can be a great booster for increasing sales. With it, you will improve the customer experience and receive better and more timely feedback.
From our app developers experience, we want to give you some tips that will be relevant to your grocery business:
- Make your app intuitive. Don’t make the user search for a shopping list.
- Label products that may contain different allergens.
- Integrate multiple payment systems.
We hope our article helped you to learn more details about developing a grocery shopping app.
If you still have any questions or need help with mobile app development, feel free to contact us. We are always glad to help!