When shoppers walk in the door of the Rushford Foods grocery store, things will look the same on the surface, but there’s a small change in the environment that means a big change for grocery shopping.
Rushford Foods is one of the newest stores trying to bring grocery shopping into the technology age with an application called “Fetch,” that seeks to make grocery shopping more efficient for shoppers of all ages. (photo from rushfordfoods.com)
The pop culture saying “there’s an app for that” now applies to grocery shopping. Rushford Foods is now gone online with an application called Fetch, which is designed to make patrons into more efficient shoppers. The options on the app are many, but they’re surprisingly easy to learn.
“Fetch is two years old and based in Madison, Wisconsin,” said Tristan Bednarek of Fetch Rewards. “Chief Executive Officer Wes Schroll is the company’s founder. As a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he grew frustrated with some aspects of grocery shopping, especially with the length of time it took and the difficulty in finding coupons. He found a way to fix those problems.”
The Fetch Rewards company’s “Fetch” grocery shopping application is online at IGA food stores in Rushford, Preston, and Harmony, Minnesota food stores to help make grocery shopping easier for shoppers of all ages. (Photo from superbcrew.org)
Fetch is a free mobile application that shoppers can download onto their smartphones or tablets. However, if customers don’t own their own device, Rushford Foods will provide tablets for them to use. All they have to do is check out one at the service counter.
Using an application to help their customers shop isn’t something that Rushford Foods jumped into. It’s been a process that first began 18 months ago thanks to an article in a college newsletter.
“The founder of Fetch is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate,” said Rushford Foods co-owner Brad Hoiness, “but I went to school at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and the story appeared the La Crosse newsletter. It peaked my interest, so I drove to Madison and met with his team over there and watched how it’s been developing since then.”The first step in using the app is a simple one: open up the app on your smart device.
“The Deals page is the first one you see when the application opens up,” said Emma Malone of Rushford Foods. “You grab the coupon you want by hitting the Fetch button. Coupons can even be divided into categories like Dairy or Frozen foods.”
“The Deals page is the first one you see when the app is running,” said Emma Malone of Rushford Foods. “You grab the coupon you want by hitting the Fetch button. Coupons can even be divided into categories like Dairy or Frozen foods.”
As shoppers go through the aisles and scan items, they are awarded a certain number of points for each item, and those points are redeemable for free items.
Photographs from the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Mayville WI. where they are using a software app that allows to people to scan products in the store with their phones or the store has 6 loaner tablet devices, receive coupons instantly and have expedited check-out. You also get points and then can get free products. Fetch Rewards is the name of the Madison-based company that sets this up. Here Mike Hansen of Horicon scans in a bar code from the mushrooms he was buying with one of the store’s loaner tablets. (Photo from MICHAEL SEARS/MSEARS@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM)
“As shoppers walk up and down the aisles, they’re scanning everything they’re buying,” Bednarek said. “The camera on your device will scan the barcodes for you and total up the prices of what you’re buying. The app uses your camera and you don’t even have to press any buttons to scan something. It takes the picture all by itself. The item then gets thrown in your digital cart while you put it in your actual shopping cart.”
The app keeps a running total of what you’ve bought as you scan each item. It doesn’t add sales tax so the checkout line final total will be a little different. The application will show you different coupon options available for the items you want to purchase.
“Those coupons you select in the app come off automatically as you shop,” he said. “When a coupon is available for something you scan and you haven’t selected it previously, you’ll see a pop-up that asks if you want to save money on the item. All you do is hit the Fetch button.”
Buying produce will be a little different than most of the other items. You begin by scanning the barcodes on each produce table which will contain several different options.
“Once you scan the barcode,” said Malone, “a list of everything on the table pops up and shoppers will select the one they want. A blue button on the screen will remind shoppers to take the produce to scales to weigh the product. Once it’s on the scale, a barcode pops up in the top right corner with the weight and price. You scan that barcode with your smart device and it goes right into your virtual shopping cart.”
The Fetch Rewards company loads coupons into the application, and their manufacturer partners do too. Each store that signs up with Fetch will offer their own coupons too.
“You’ll get the same store savings using the app,” Bednarik said, “as we’re not replacing anything. We’re just an addition on top of what the stores are doing. Customers still have the opportunity to use manufacturer coupons that they clip out of newspapers.”
When the time comes to redeem the bonus points, shoppers should first hit the checkout button. A list of everything you have will pop up and show how much you saved on each item. The total number of points available determines how many of the shopping items will be free. Each item will cost a certain number of redeemable points and the more of those shoppers have, the more they save.
Fetch Rewards just partnered with a company called Shop Well and the application can now flag nutritional information as well. This is especially important for shoppers who suffer from food allergies or simply want to live healthier.
“They provide us with nutritional information,” Bednarek said. “If you scan an item, you have the option to look at its ingredients list and it gives information like sodium content or cholesterol amounts. Shoppers can even update their profiles to include food allergies and gluten intolerance. All those things can be flagged so that when you scan an item, it will let you know.”
Southeast Minnesota grocery stores where Fetch is now available include Rushford Foods, as well as Harmony Foods and Preston Foods. All three IGA food stores just went live with the application for the first time last Wednesday.
“We’ve trained the employees first, getting them comfortable and familiar with the app,” Bednarek said. “They can answer any questions customers ask.
“We’ve also had several people use it to check out their groceries and they’ve said it’s very easy to learn,” Bednarek added. “I’ve even had people tell me it turned grocery shopping a little more fun, which is not something you hear on a regular basis.”
Here’s a demonstration video I put together when I was doing the story for Bluff Country News. I didn’t actually intend to put it up for public viewing, but I thought it would give a decent enough idea of how Fetch works. If you put your playback on the HD setting, I think the picture is good enough to understand. Of course, you can also go to Rushford Foods or any of the other stores that have it for more information.