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Grocery purchases by mobile payments appear to be on the horizon

Jan 31, 2013 Dave King

Paying the grocery tab at a supermarket with a prepaid ACH card, debit or credit card on their mobile phone may become as popular as paying household bills and buying a new pair of shoes, a new survey found.

The poll by Symphony EYC, which produces retail and distribution software, questioned 1,000 American consumers on their online and food shopping habits during the recent holiday season. While the shoppers said that making electronic payments over their mobile phones is easy and more personalized than other payment methods, they see mobile purchases of groceries as something that's on the horizon but not yet commonly practiced, the company reports.

About 54 percent of those polled said they viewed the possibility of not waiting in line as the best thing about shopping online for groceries.

The vast majority of consumers (88.5 percent) said they haven't made mobile payments for groceries in the past year, but many said they could be won over by receiving personalized promotions on their favorite products. Nearly 73 percent said they also want price comparisons available on their phones.

"Shoppers want easier, more personalized [services and more control over their choices, said Allan Davies, chief marketing officer of Symphony EYC, "and they will make decisions on where they shop based on the level of these services."

Having a say
Nearly 86 percent of those surveyed believe that having a say about product inventory is an important factor in going mobile at the grocery store. Nearly 86 percent indicated they would want the ability to request certain products from food retailers and nearly 80 percent want to be able to give local stores their opinion on products as part of mobile purchasing services.

If they could have some influence on product inventory, nearly half the consumers polled said they would shop with a grocery retailer that tied this benefit to buying food products with a mobile payment.

Interestingly, even with a smartphone in hand to send their payments, nearly 70 percent of food shoppers prefer to stick with the traditional visit to a store, rather than online shopping and delivery services. Younger patrons were more inclined to favor online shopping for groceries, the study showed.

However, more than 60 percent were willing to let supermarkets know their shopping habits and preferences for products as long as their personal data is secure.