Two weeks ago I added the Grocery Gadgets app to my iPhone. Being compulsive, I also added it to my iPad. It lets me build a shopping list from a database of my favorite items. As I walk through the store, I check the items off as I pull them from the shelves. Being doubly compulsive, I created a group that lets my wife and I add items to the list from our computers or mobile devices.
While I am really enamored with this new system, Heather is less convinced. Isn't this just a high tech version of what used to be on the back of an envelope? Maybe. But, wait. I can link the list to a particular store. As I walk through the store, the app remembers the order in which I selected the items on the list. The next time I go to that store, bang, the items come up as I walk up to them!
The app has become my store. No more dawdling over end-caps. No more serendipitous discoveries as I notice an attractive display of something I've never seen before. Instead, I discover new products because the app offers me a coupon for a new product.
This is only the beginning. An app like myShopanion lets me check what my friends have to say about something I'd like to try...while I am still in the store. I can easily imagine a future version of GroceryGadget that suggest products to me the way Amazon does or even cycles items to the top of my searches like Google.
What's really interesting about all of this is that apps like these perform the amazing feat of taking the physical store out of the shopper interaction. The customer becomes their customer, and the store becomes just the middleman. For brands, this could be huge: a direct channel to customers without the hassle of dealing with a gazillion different in-store configurations.