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Kroger App Causes Customer Frustration, Hurts Brand: Jeff Kagan

Kroger grocery marketing created an app forcing customers to jump through confusing hoops to get the lowest price. This will cause lost market share. Here's what Kroger needs to do to repair this problem.
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.

Image source: Kroger

Why is Kroger (KR) marketing allowing its store app to tick off customers? Over time, my favorite stores have changed. Sometimes, stores do something new and make the shopping experience better. Other times, they do something that makes it harder and less enjoyable to shop. That’s what is happening at Kroger supermarkets. If left unchecked, this problem will continue to grow, cause long-term damage to the Kroger brand.

Let me explain the problem Kroger created from the customer perspective.

If I had to guess what the cause of the problem is, I would say the Kroger marketing department is full of young people who don’t understand how older people often struggle with new technology like smartphone apps.

Even the cashiers have problems with it. To many loyal Kroger customers, there is no other way to get the savings and sales price.

This causes resentment — the last thing a brand wants to create.

Kroger can experiment with Apps, but also give customers an easier way

Kroger can experiment with new technologies; but it should also have an easier way for customers to get the savings if they don’t want, or don’t like, to use apps.

Remember, the whole reason for the app and the marketing department in the first place is to increase sales and revenues and keep customers happy and coming back. Period.

This means anything that chases customers away must be avoided.

Kroger marketing uses App to increase market share

The good news is Kroger is thinking outside of the box to increase market share. This is what they should do because the supermarket industry is competitive.

However, while the company's efforts may work with some shoppers, others are turned off. This must be avoided.

Companies must be creative with marketing, but not lose customers because of it.

The problem with the Kroger app is that customers need to go through a confusing process just to get the lowest prices.

Kroger creates confusion, then frustration and anger for the brand

This first creates confusion with customers, which then leads to frustration and then anger.

This is not the end goal any retailer wants. Retailers want to increase market share, not tick customers off.

A separate yet connected problem is that, in many Kroger stores, wireless signal and connectivity is very poor. This makes it difficult if not impossible for customers to even access and use the app. But that’s a different problem.

Kroger marketing executives and staff have created many new ways for the customer to save money.

This is great since most shoppers want to do just that. So, deals that are on the shelf price tag are fine. This builds customer connection with the brand.

The problem comes when customers need to use the Kroger App to save

The problem is when customers must use the digital app on their smartphones to get the sales price.

While some customers may not have a problem with this app, many others do. Many simply cannot figure it out. And they have no intention of wasting their time and effort to do so.

The multi-step process to get the lowest price is creating hoops for the customer to jump through, and many do not like this.

When the customer asks for help from the cashier, most times even they are confused.

The long, multi-step process pressing multiple buttons on the screen needs to be improved and made simple.

Kroger is losing many customers because of this. A problem that can be quickly and easily solved. So, why hasn't management implemented change immediately?  

The solution is an easy, two-part plan

One, simplify the app.

Two, give non-app customers the ability to get the same savings without using their smartphone in the store.

Customers do not want to waste time learning a retail store's app.

And that’s if there is even a wireless signal at all in the store.

Too many customers try to jump through the Kroger app hoops and fail.

First, they spend extra time. Wasting time is something no one wants to do.

Second, even if they think they did it right, many times they did not, and the sales price does not show up on the register creating further frustration.

Confusing Kroger App causes customer to shop at competitors

This causes customer anger and confusion. When this happens, the frustrated shoppers leave and shop at a competitor.

I like the creativity of the marketing executives and staff at Kroger. This is forward thinking.

Kroger, however, has gone goes too far for its own good.

A retailer should never force customers to do something, especially when they either don’t want to or are unable to understand how.

Every customer should be treated with respect. Every customer should be given multiple ways to get the best savings. That means shoppers who like to use the app and shoppers who do not.

Kroger can quickly fix its App problem

This is a problem Kroger can fix easily. That will build customer relations and benefit the company long term. So, why has it been permitted to fester?

Does Kroger even recognize it has a real problem here? Consider this your wake-up call.

Kroger can continue to use its creative sales prices and its app, but it should also offer customers a quick and easy way to do business the old-fashioned way.

That choice will save Kroger from lost market share, which is what it is experiencing today. Whatever each store does today in business, it could do so much more if it was easy for customers to do business there.

How Kroger can avoid losing market share

And shouldn’t that be the ultimate goal in a competitive marketplace?

Yesterday, grocers like Publix and Kroger were pretty much even in the minds of the customer. It was easy, and that made it easy to love both stores.

In recent years, Kroger has been more creative with changes, giving shoppers a new way to get savings via customer accounts. This was bad enough forcing the customer to jump through these hoops.

Now, forcing customers to use a complicated app just to get additional savings tells shoppers they are not valued unless they can jump through this additional and confusing step. Is that really what Kroger wants to tell the marketplace?

Remember, marketing is supposed to create a connection with the customer to increase market share. It is not supposed to tick customers off forcing them to shop at the competition.


Jeff Kagan is an Equities News columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Technology Analyst and Commentator who follows Telecom, Pay TV, Cloud, AI, IoT, TeleHealth, Healthcare, Automotive, Self-Driving cars and more. Email him at [email protected] His web site is Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan and on LinkedIn at


Equities News Columnist: Jeff Kagan

Source: Equities News

The astronomer Carl Sagan said, “It was easy to predict mass car ownership but hard to predict Walmart.”