Social shopping platform Unata announced this week that it has partnered with Longo’s, a Canadian grocery chain, to launch both an iPhone and mobile web app for Longo’s-powered grocery delivery service Grocery Gateway. The mobile apps will allow users to create orders, view their past purchase history, choose delivery times, and check out via their mobile device. The launch of the app is the first phase of the partnership, with the two companies currently collaborating to create a similar mobile in-store experience for shoppers at Longo’s.
“When we onboarded Longo’s the plan was to have them use our platform to power the mobile experiences for both Grocery Gateway and Longo’s in-store and out of store experience,” Unata founder and CEO Chris Bryson said in an interview. “Our approach to mobile and digital is that a one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work. You’ll see a lot retailers taking historical mediums like flyers and trying to just stuff them into a small little device and that just doesn’t work. We think that in order to succeed in mobile, you have to tailor the message to every single person.”
Founded in 2009 to help retailers implement mobile and loyalty solutions, Unata’s platform integrates with a retailer’s point-of-sale (POS) system and accesses customer data including transaction history to provide a more personalized shopping experience to shoppers on their mobile devices. Much like Netflix and Amazon’s recommendation engine, the company’s platform provides a way for shoppers to get access to personalized suggestions for their next purchase, and gives retailers an automated content management system (CMS) to manage on the backend. It also provides marketers with a platform to push out deals and targeted promotions in the form of a discount code, or through leveraging a retailer’s existing loyalty rewards and points system.
“Our platform is built to support both discount-based promotions and point-based promotions. The targeted promotions that we can send out can also be for engagement outside of just purchases, with which you’ll notice a big trend in gamification. Especially If you leverage a loyalty currency you can get users engaging with a mobile application outside of a store, like getting points for coming into a store, or for doing certain actions at home or actions before your purchase or after your purchase,” Bryson said.
The Grocery Gateway app is a step towards helping grocers build loyalty and mobile solutions into their existing POS systems. Existing competitors have mobile apps, from Loblaws’ PC Recipe Box app and Sobeys’ Moodie Foodie, but their mobile experience is more focused on helping consumers browse and discover recipes as opposed to ordering on the go. The industry is being disrupted at a higher pace further south of the border thanks in large part to companies like ModivMedia, a solution that allows shoppers to checkout using their smartphone, which was acquired by Catalina Marketing, and AisleBuyer, which lets users scan an item to get reviews, discounts, as well as checkout, and which was acquired by Intuit. Earlier in September, BetaKit also covered Spent, which integrates with a retailer’s POS to provide customized promotions and coupons.
Bryson likens the current mobile landscape for grocers to the situation several years ago when they were scrambling to have a web presence and built static websites, only to then realize the need to have a CMS platform to actively manage and push out content. He said mobile is in the same phase right now, with his company looking to provide the transactional and personalized mobile experience to grocery chains in addition other retailers with frequent buying patterns, like pharmacies, or with existing loyalty programs which can be easily integrated with Unata’s platform.
With retailers increasingly trying to figure out how to incorporate mobile payments and loyalty into their stores and mobile apps, Unata provides an alternative to mobile payments solutions like Square, which just launched in Canada last week, and will likely be adopted by merchants big and small in the coming months.