Waitrose has launched an iPhone app this week, its first attempt at m-commerce services.
With an ever increasing number of Waitrose customers accessing the grocer’s website via handsets, the supermarket was convinced that it should design a specific mobile application.
The new service will be available to any iPhone or iPad user and can be downloaded for free at the Apple App Store.
Nick Marley, Head of Web Selling & Online Marketing at Waitrose, said: “Our first ever mobile tools will be key in helping us develop an ongoing dialogue with our customers and interact with them in new and exciting ways.”
Functions currently include updated recipes, an in-branch item finder and GPS to allow users to locate their nearest store.
Marley continued: “We are confident that iPhone and mobile users will enjoy the easy-to-use functions which will enhance the in-store shopping experience, and that the mobile will become a handy alternative in the kitchen to the traditional recipe book.
“We’re already looking at expanding on these platforms further in the not so distant future, to include additional features such as online shopping.”
Christine Bardwell, Retail Technology Analyst for Ovum Research, warns that although apps are the right medium to be exploring, Waitrose will have to work hard to make its product successful.
“Because Waitrose does not offer online shopping services itself, the Waitrose application will need to continue to be functional for it to be successful.
“The successful retail applications are those that drive the consumer back to the application, by providing a tool for shopping online via your mobile or a shopping list facility, for instance.
“Waitrose is offering shopping lists, recipes and GPS branch finders on their app, but this will need to be regularly updated in order to keep the app user interested over time.”
The success of this new venture could depend on Waitrose’s relationship with online partner Ocado, whose online and mobile presence may prove a useful tool or a difficult rival.
Bardwell continued: “At the moment, Waitrose is not offering a facility to buy groceries over mobile. Both the app and the mobile site have potential to be more successful - by offering online shopping through partner, Ocado.”
“Even if this is a plan for the future - the site/app will be competing with the functionality on the proven Ocado app so it could be tough to penetrate the market.”