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Walmart’s Auto Shopping List: The Next Killer Mobile App?

May 29th, 2013

Indeed, the auto-generated list could be better than a handmade list. Shoppers typically write down items that they’ve run out of and maybe where a family member has pointed out that something is about to run out. An app that uses historical buying from that person and projects likely imminent outages is powerful.

When the shopping history gets lengthy enough, the potential of this functionality gets even better. With a few months of data, it could make superb guesses as to when milk, eggs, bread or orange juice are likely to run out. With a few years of data, it could flag in July that the shopper almost always buys cranberry juice. (Turns out this shopper’s cousin’s family always spends a few days with them on the Fourth of July and one of their kids lives on cranberry juice.) It could anticipate and flag charcoal—or liquid propane—in June as well, if that’s when that shopper typically stocks up.

It could also be smart about things like diapers and baby food, knowing which related items should be recommended. If that item suddenly pops up on the list, a checklist of related items might be quite well received by a new mother. The app could also be smart enough to know to stop recommending infant diapers after a certain amount of time and to change its baby-food recommendations to coincide with both age and changes in diaper size. It could flag any purchase of honey less than a year after diapers appeared, with a note that anyone younger than 12 months should not consume honey. (This could be boring or irrelevant to some but a literal life-saver for others.)

Thomas touched on the obvious, that it could also factor in dietary or budget restrictions. But to the extent that it would do that by examining the full ingredient list of every item (especially prepared foods, which tend to have a huge ingredient list), it could become indispensable.

That’s why this specific bit of possible functionality has so much potential. For lots of reasons, this is one that shoppers are likely to actually use and use often. Then, when you layer discounts and special promotions atop, you have the ability to radically change buyer behaviors in-aisle.

If Walmart starts to control even a healthy minority percentage of every shopping list on a mobile in America (and beyond), a lot of retail execs are going to start losing a lot of sleep. Maybe Walmart will know to add warm milk, whisky and melatonin to their next shopping list?


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One Comment | Read Walmart’s Auto Shopping List: The Next Killer Mobile App?

  1. ed Says:

    A mobile shopping list app offering linear inventory replenishment for a household is great. A mobile shopping list app smart enough to revolve around existing items in the household pantry would be killer.

    In the 8 hot dog buns to 10 hot dogs in a package scenario, the shopping list mobile app should be smart enough to recommend a can of baked beans to make frank & beans with the 2 remaining hot dogs instead of inventory replenishment.

    Wal-Mart would love for me to buy a new package of hot dog buns, but as a customer, I want to make the best use of what I have in my household and have diversity in my meal choices.

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