Even with your stomach growling and the fridge looking pitifully empty, finding up the motivation to go grocery shopping can be challenging. For some, that reluctance comes from sticker shock: that unpleasant doubletake at the register when you realize exactly how much went into your cart. While couponing is always an option - and a tried-and-true one, at that - not everyone has the time and patience to collect circulars and spend hours snipping with scissors.
Most grocery shoppers, however, have a smartphone, and believe it or not, that's all you really need! Grocery shopping rebate apps and receipt scanning apps are revolutionizing the way money-conscious shoppers are filling their carts, baskets, and bags.
How do Grocery Shopping Savings Apps Work?
So why, you may wonder, would any company want to pay you money just to pick up groceries? Seems a little far-fetched, doesn't it? It makes a lot more sense when you view it through the lens of marketing. Think about the free sample booths, the ad campaigns, the commercials, and all the other efforts that go into promoting a new product. Established companies have to put out a lot of money to get a new product to market, and part of that cost is always set aside for marketing.
If a large, well-known company could pay ten or twenty cents to be absolutely sure you would buy their product, of course they will: it's really not much different than printing a coupon. In fact, it may even be cheaper, because they know you're going to buy it to get the rebate. Alternately, with a paper coupon, you could always clip it and forget about it or toss it out. In this context, digital rebates through partnered apps are a very smart move.
Grocery rebate apps like iBotta and Fetch Rewards offer users real money, typically paid in gift cards or Paypal, in exchange for buying specific, branded groceries. The app receives engagement (people using the app) and can then demand higher future partnership commissions, and the brand partner receives confirmation of your purchase and product research info in return. These apps also take specific grocery stores on as brand partners, acting as a powerful connecting link between brands, the stores that sell them, and the consumers - that's you! - that shop there.
How do Receipt-Scanning Grocery Shopping Apps Work?
While information on your purchases for a specific item makes for valuable data (worthy of a financial reward), the rest of your cart is full of valuable information too. Imagine if your company made taco shells, and you had a choice of two places in the grocery store to set up your sales display. One aisle is by the ground beef, while the other is near the spices and cheese. Through receipt scanning and sorting out customer data, you discover that people are 3 times more likely to buy your taco shells if they're buying ground beef in the same trip. Tah-dah! Now you know exactly where your display should be to maximize sales.
While store loyalty cards and key tags do collect this sort of information, they also have a big limitation: grocery store A only knows what you shop for inside grocery store A. Receipt-scanning apps like Checkout 51 and Receipt Hog help build a more accurate picture of you as a shopper, which means manufacturers understand your needs a lot better. Users use their phone camera to scan their receipts after each shopping trip, regardless of store, and the app rewards them with points or money that slowly accumulates. The app then "translates" the printing on the receipt to digital-friendly formats, and passes the information along to the manufacturer.
Tips for Using Grocery Shopping Savings Apps
- The most important part of getting the most out of apps like these is to always read the requirements. Many times, manufacturers will have limitations on what does and doesn't qualify for a rebate: a certain size, color, count, and so on. When in doubt, most of the larger apps come with the ability to scan a barcode to see if an item is in a promotion or not.
- If you are purchasing several items specifically for their rebates, group them together at the very beginning or very end of an order so they're easier to spot on the receipt. If you're using a grocery savings app that requires you to scan physical item barcodes, be sure to bag them together as well.
- Please don't attempt to return your items after submission or "cheat" the system - because the apps are typically linked to store loyalty cards, the truth will come out quickly. Additionally, this type of behavior can get you banned from the app, or ruin the lucrative fun for everyone if a brand partner pulls out.
- Have friends that love to save money? Make sure you send out your referral code to friends and family: you'll usually get bonus points or even money when they sign up. If it's a close friend or relative, consider taking them to the store to show them the ropes of using the app: it's a nice thing to do and it also locks in your referral bonus.
- Make sure you have plenty of "juice" by charging your phone beforehand. You don't want your phone to run out of power mid-grocery shop, right? Some diehard savers swear by an external battery pack tucked in a purse or pocket just in case. Many larger grocery stores also offer free wi-fi: habitually logging in when you arrive will spare your battery a lot of hard work.
- Take a minute to scan everything before you leave the grocery store. Push your cart out of the way so you aren't blocking traffic, find a well-lit, plain surface to photograph your receipt, and scan away. This way, you'll never have to worry about misplacing a receipt in the car or digging for a product once you get back home.
Grocery shopping savings apps like iBotta, Fetch Rewards, Receipt Hog, and Checkout 51 can put a lot of money in your pocket, particularly if you already shop with their brand partners. Hit the Google Play Marketplace or the App Store to find the apps you need, and enjoy saving tons of money on the delicious treats you're already shopping for.