Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

Caron says Modiv hopes its app benefits both customers and retailers—customers save time and get personalized deals, and retailers entice customers with more effective offers and can also employ fewer cashiers.

Retailers new to the system can choose to deploy the technology in both smart phones and in-store handsets, says Paul Schaut, chairman of Modiv Media. He expects some to jump straight to the smart-phone-only option, which will save them money since they won’t have to pay for dedicated devices. “It’s a huge hurdle that just goes away,” he says.

Caron says the app opens up many possibilities for enhancing the shopping experience. For example, Modiv could add features to make shopping more social, such as allowing users and stores to share recipe ideas and the shopping lists that go with them.

However, Schaut cautions, many apps have launched and died trying to offer such features prematurely. For users to actually adopt the app, he says, they’ll want first to have a solid experience with the basics of shopping, such as scanning items and paying. He says Modiv has deliberately focused on building that infrastructure before going on to add features. “Once you have that ‘dwell time’ with customers,” Schaut says, “you can have all these neat scenarios.”

The success and polish of the handset version of Scan It! bodes well for the app’s success, says Mark Beccue, a senior analyst at ABI Research specializing in consumer mobility. “Their first offering is a very good one,” he says.

The handset version of Scan It! launched in 2007. By 2009, Modiv found, customers who used the device spent an average of $7 more per trip and visited the store 10 percent more often than they had previously.

For apps like this, Beccue notes, the devil is very much in the details, and the user’s first experience is all-important. “The consumer’s going to make the decision based on how well it saves time, and if it’s more convenient,” he says. “They’ll try it once and judge based on that.”

Today’s launch of the iPhone app means that retailers can now buy it from Modiv. The app will reach consumers a little more slowly. Stop & Shop is piloting it in certain stores, building on its existing deployment of the Scan It! technology. Caron expects it will be available for general download to Stop & Shop customers by the end of the summer. Modiv is also working on a version for Android smart phones.

Beccue says that Scan It! will be an important indicator of whether consumers are willing to use their mobile devices to expedite shopping, and perhaps even of the future of the “mobile wallet.” He adds, “With a significant chain bought in, it’s going to be a canary in the coal mine telling us how this will go.”

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Credit: Brittany Sauser
Video by Brittany Sauser

Tagged: Communications, mobile, iPhone app, shopping, commerce

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me