BOWIE — For tech savvy Baltimore and Washington, D.C., area Safeway customers, the days of clipping coupons are over as the company launched “Just for U,” an app for smartphones and tablets that offers additional savings.
Steve Neibergall, president of Safeway Inc.’s Eastern Division, announced the product Wednesday in Bowie. Customers must be Safeway club card members — frequent shoppers in the store who receive discounts — to be eligible for the app.
By using the “Just for U” app, club card-holders could receive 10 to 20 percent savings on top of what they already get in discounts as members.
“Most people will see the value in having a club card,” said Steve Neibergall, Eastern Division president at Safeway Inc. These members will always get the best deals in the store, he said.
According to Neibergall, there are three main advantages to using the app: saving time and money, personalization and technology.
To access the app, shoppers can sign up on their smartphones or tablets. This syncs the customer’s club card with the app. Instead of looking through a handwritten shopping list, users will be able to keep an organized grouping of groceries electronically. When the items are selected in the store, the user can electronically cross them off their list.
Within one minute, the list is updated on the customer’s club card, and the item will have the additional discount by the time the customer checks out, said Neibergall.
The personalization aspect is based on the customer’s history of purchases. If a shopper consistently purchases a certain brand, “Just for U” will display discounts relating to those items.
Say a customer regularly purchases 12-packs of a particular soda. If that item ever goes on sale, the app will notify the shopper.
On Wednesday, Safeway invited a few of the area’s bloggers to try the app.
The writers, whose topics span from eating healthy to family advice, were given a list of items to purchase with the “Just for U” discount.
“Blogging has become such an industry,” said Gregory A. TenEyck, public affairs and government relations director for Safeway’s Eastern Division. “We wanted to introduce this product to them. They are a prime audience.”
The general consensus among the bloggers was positive.
“Everything is in one place,” said Holly Zegalia, a blogger for www.ILikeitFrantic.net. “One of the best things is the savings on fruits and vegetables. Forty cents off on bananas doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up.”
Zegalia, whose family is gluten intolerant, did express concern over the lack of specialty food items that were on sale.
“Finding food that we can all eat can be difficult,” she said.
Jill Berry, of www.MusingsFromMe.com, enjoys the environmentally friendly aspect to the new technology.
“I’m really into reducing paper,” said Berry, as she surfed through her iPhone to get the right sale.
“Finding deals is usually legwork, so if this saves money, I think it’s worth it,” she added.
For shoppers who are less tech-savvy, Safeway still accepts paper coupons.
Customers wishing to sign up can be assisted by in-store associates Safeway calls “Ambassadors.”
According to TenEyck, the app is ultimately aimed at getting customers to keep coming back.
“The whole idea behind it is to create a greater sense of loyalty among our shoppers,” he said.
According to its website, Safeway operates 75 stores in Maryland.