LONDON: The most effective grocery apps for retaining customer loyalty are those that help to integrate the online and offline shopping experience, while recipes and digital coupons are also key loyalty drivers, new research has suggested.

In its third consecutive annual study of hundreds of retail apps, market researchers IGD Retail Analysis warned brands that the rapid advance of mobile technology meant many new apps could easily "leapfrog" existing players.

It said the most successful apps were those which combined functionality with simplicity while making best use of sharp, vibrant photography.

These included Appie, the shopping app launched in 2009 by Dutch multinational retailer Ahold, which IGD described as a "very innovative app" with a "smart shopping" function that organises shopping lists based on the layout of a specific store.

Meanwhile, MyStore, the store navigation app currently being tested by Tesco, the UK retail giant, is also expected to benefit customers with its additional function of payment capabilities, the report suggested.

In addition to the popularity of price comparison functions, the research also found consumers responded well to personalised promotional alerts, digital coupons and recipes.

A full 56% of respondents said they would like to be alerted to special offers and IGD praised Toronto-based Checkout51 as a good example of an app that provides this service.

With recipe searches growing at nearly 40% year-on-year in the UK, according to Google, IGD also pointed to Eroski Consumer as a consumer-friendly app that offers video tips, weekly meal planning and nutritional advice.

IGD was particularly impressed that the app, launched by Spanish supermarket group Eroski, also allows users to search recipes to check against allergies and diseases.

Data sourced from IGD Retail Analysis; additional content by Warc staff