Sainsbury's joins e-commerce fray with iPhone apps

Sainsbury's has moved into mobile e-commerce with the announcement of two new iPhone apps.

Sainsbury's has moved into mobile e-commerce with the announcement of two new iPhone apps.

One application is for the supermarket and the other is for the loyalty scheme Nectar, which gives customers access to exclusive bonus point offers.

The Sainsbury's app is free and includes a store locator, a list of deals in store, news and personalised offers. The Nectar app is intended for people who shop in Sainsbury's and Homebase and provides access to offers for more loyalty points.

Mike Coupe, Sainsbury's group commercial director, says the app will save customers money and time. "With our app you will be able to quickly find your nearest Sainsbury's and receive exclusive, personalised bonus points offers on the go. Through our partnership with Nectar, our customers will never miss out on deals and be able to reward themselves." Both apps are available on iTunes.

The apps represent Sainsbury's first move into the mobile e-commerce realm, an area many retailers are increasingly interested in exploring. Tesco released its API to third party developers in 2009, a move which Sainsbury's hasn't followed yet. A spokesman said it is too early to comment on whether the supermarket might open its API.

The company is also developing apps for different mobile platforms, it said on its Twitter stream.

Mobile e-commerce is set to see growth this year and next, as retailers rated e-commerce and transaction websites second in their list of investment priorities for 2010, according to Martec International's IT in Retail research.

More retailers are releasing applications and others are experimenting further with in-store mobile technology. Tesco recently announced its first transactional app for Nokia, allowing shoppers to update their online shopping account and order food from their mobile phones.

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