Grocery shopping apps help navigate your local supermarket

The COVID pandemic has changed many of our habits, whether it be the way we work or our approach to social occasions.

For many it has also revolutionised the way we shop, resulting in a huge increase in online purchases.

That revolution has even extended to the most fundamental of purchasing exercises – grocery shopping. Many of those who switched to ordering groceries online and having them dropped to their door have not gone back.

Initially, I was one of those, but as lockdowns became a receding memory I decided to venture back into the ‘real’ world of grocery shopping early this year.

My oldest son, the self-appointed family tech-head, had set up the whole online delivery thing through Woolworths.

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I thought I’d be relieving him of his duty by going back to in-person grocery shopping. Instead, he introduced me to the wonders of the shopping app. My first reaction was to ask, “Why would I need an app to shop in person?”

My son soon showed me why – shopping lists. The apps of both of Australia’s big grocery companies – Coles and Woolworths – allow you to specify the store you’ll be heading to and create a shopping list, on the app itself, which not only features nice little photos of the items you’re after, but specifies which aisle you’ll find them in at the store you visit.

This was huge, particularly the first couple of times I shopped in person post-pandemic. I’d forgotten along which aisle half the things were located.

I’ve been using the Woolies app for the best part of a year now and find it extremely helpful, albeit with a couple of drawbacks.

With that in mind, I recently downloaded the Coles equivalent to see how it stacked up, and I must say I think the Coles app comes out ahead.

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Both apps are reasonably intuitive and easy to use, with easy-to-read menu bars at the bottom of the screen. When it comes to setting up a list, it’s a straightforward task in each app. In both, the prices are clearly displayed and each app allows you to specify how many of a particular item you’d like.

In both apps, searching for an item is relatively straightforward, although I found the Coles search function more comprehensive.

For example, typing in the letters, “Zoop” brings up ‘Zooper Doopers’ (for the uninitiated, Zooper Doopers are an ice confection) but fails to do so in the Woolworths app. To find them on the Woolies app, I had to search using the word ‘ice’.

Once instore, both apps are easy to read and display the items in aisle order, making the shopping experience relatively trouble free one. For me, as the person who actually visits the store, the Coles app has an added advantage: it gives you a running total of your purchases as you go. With current cost-of-living pressures, that’s a real advantage.

The Woolworths app may have one advantage in another area, though. It allows you to set up its ‘Scan&Go’ feature, which allows you to actually scan each of your items as you add them to your trolley, leaving you to do nothing but check out when your shopping is done.

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As someone who prefers to have a human check out my items, I have not yet used this feature, but for those looking to get their shopping done quickly, this seems like a great tool, and I haven’t found an equivalent on the Coles app.

The Woolworths app does have one ‘feature’ that I find particularly annoying.

It has items that are ‘online only’ but displays that special price on the app when you are instore. These items do have a tiny tag that reads ‘Online only special’, but in such small typeface it’s easy to miss. In my view, if you are doing an instore shop, a display like this constitutes misleading conduct.

If you’re a regular in-person shopper of either of the ‘big two’ grocers, I’d recommend giving their apps a go.

Were you aware of the Woolworths and Coles apps? Will you give them a go? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

Written by Andrew Gigacz

Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.

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