All the supermarkets have an app, but who has the best one? The Grocer asked 13 mobile app developers and digital media gurus to put 12 mobile apps through their paces and explain what they loved or hated about them. So which app emerged from the comprehensive tests as the best? And which ones came out worst…



Speed: 6.62

Navigation: 5.85

Aesthetic design: 4.46

Functionality: 3.77

Overall score: 5.17

This app was so bad I had to check that I had the correct one! It just lists specials, no store finder, no search, a truly budget app. Paul Swaddle, Pocket App

Although the aesthetics of the app are not pleasing to the eye, the functionality was very good, particularly sorting the latest offers first by date, then by category.Tomm Warham, Wink Nudge

Aldi’s app is brand appropriate and simple. One of its most notable features is the real time view of the offers in the local Aldi store, which is particularly suited to its core customer. The app allows you to create a shopping list too, but customer reviews suggest users expect more from the app. Aldi could consider using some of the device’s native features, like location services, to deliver content more relevant to their users. Robert Haslam, Mubaloo



Speed: 6.15

Navigation: 7.54

Aesthetic design: 8.00

Functionality: 7.65

Overall score: 7.33

A nice feature was the ability to import orders from other retailers. The design was nice, but the navigation seemed to require a lot of clicks. Rick Grundy, Techdept

The Waitrose app has a fantastic design. Its home screen is slick and simple, with a small number of clearly defined directions for users to go in. Unfortunately, there is an unnecessary breaking of a tried-and-tested convention, as the scrolling mechanism does not match the native one commonly used across iOS. Adam Croxen, Future Platforms

I like that on every item there is a Heart symbol, so users can add it to their wish lists to save it for another time. Very easy to book a delivery slot up front, rather than at the end, so no users are left unhappy. Abbey Torrance, Carat



Speed: 5.46

Navigation: 4.92

Aesthetic design: 6.46

Functionality: 3.38

Overall score: 5.98

Limited capability should equal simple, intuitive navigation, but this was not always the case. Gareth Thomas, Zetes

It’s clearly an elegant and well-designed shopping companion. The bespoke nature of their store is reflected in the app, and the ability to receive and save store receipts in a digital format within the app is a feature that ought to be prevalent in more brands. It represents a strategic and engaging way to connect both in-store and digital experiences, driving footfall and implementing a nuanced understanding of mobile into that experience. Adam Croxen, Future Platforms

No option to locate your nearest Booths, which should be incorporated so users can locate one easily. Abbey Torrance, Carat



Speed: 6.31

Navigation: 5.31

Aesthetic design: 5.85

Functionality: 4.00

Overall score: 5.81

On first use the app looks promising as it has a nice, clean visual design. Navigation is clear, though that is mainly as there aren’t many functions within the app. You can’t buy through the app, but you can browse deals, save favourites and create a shopping list. The latter function has good usability: as you type it auto-suggests items. This is pretty accurate and generally a time-saver. Baydr Yadallee, Hi Mum! Said Dad

A satisfactory app. Given the limited capability this was not particularly easy to navigate. The app has an attractive, if basic, design. Gareth Thomas, Zetes

Follows the same route as Aldi and Lidl - simply a device for delivering information. Phil Bennett, Carswell Gould



Speed: 6.69

Navigation: 6.38

Aesthetic design: 5.54

Functionality: 4.00

Overall score: 5.65

Easy enough to navigate from screen to screen, with details on whether certain produce is available in your nearest Lidl store. Aesthetically pleasing, using Lidl’s colours throughout the app. Does not allow purchasing. However, it does tell you whether certain produce is available at your local store. Ben Davies, VYPR

Functionality is very similar to Aldi’s app, although Lidl’s app does have more of a premium feel. The app store reviews acknowledge Lidl’s app favourably, for a simple job done well. Robert Haslam, Mubaloo

Very much in line with apple’s latest design principles but it is hard to see what a Lidl customer would get from downloading the app in its current guise. Baydr Yadallee, Hi Mum! Said Dad



Speed: 6.69

Navigation: 7.62

Aesthetic design: 8.23

Functionality: 7.23

Overall score: 7.44

The fact that M&S are unique in focusing on clothing first, with groceries being a secondary market, means that this app is actually quite a confusing experience. You can order some food products for store collection but it’s quite hard to work out how you order specific items. Phil Bennett, Carswell Gould

I was trying to order some food but got completely lost and gave up. I wasn’t sure if I was even able to. It seemed to take me through several menus before getting to products I wanted. Try buying some cheese, you will see what I mean! Mark Collin, ThoughtWorks

This app was slower then I would like, I suspect that this is heavily html-based. It’s a good app, but not for the food task I set myself. Paul Swaddle, Pocket App



Speed: 7.62

Navigation: 8.23

Aesthetic design: 7.23

Functionality: 7.50

Overall score: 7.64

The tie-up with Ocado may have cost Morrisons over £200m, but it’s certainly getting its money’s worth, apps-wise. The Morrisons app is a re-skinned version of Ocado’s best-in-class native offering. It has a relatively hassle-free sign-up process and shoppers can link their app accounts to their Facebook profiles. Sam Clark, Conjure

The Morrisons app, which appears to share the same functionality as Ocado’s app, is a generally enjoyable shopping experience. The product content is informative. Adam Croxen, Future Platforms

Very good app - fast, design, very visual, which makes it super easy to use. Catalogue makes shopping experience very fast, and there was a smart search bar. Martin Penning, Push Technology



Speed: 7.54

Navigation: 7.77

Aesthetic design: 6.92

Functionality: 7.65

Overall score: 7.47

Overall, a well-rounded experience. Immediately after signing up for a Tesco groceries account I was able to easily search for products in a variety of ways and add them to my basket. The checkout process was good as well, allowing me to reserve a delivery time before I did all my shopping, which was reassuring. Tomm Warham, Wink Nudge

The search had a scan function but failed to find my caffeine-free diet Coke bottle - I did find it through manual scan. Paul Swaddle, Pocket App

Very good app - fast, easy to use and design very in keeping with the brand. I really liked the option to deliver at different slots, at differing prices. Especially like the ‘favourites and usual’ section. Also shows total cost of basket at the top, nice touch. Martin Penning, Push Technology

Whole Foods

Whole Foods

Speed: 3.69

Navigation: 4.08

Aesthetic design: 5.23

Functionality: 3.92

Overall score: 6.11

The functionality in comparison with the other apps on this list is nothing. A wholly disappointing app, as it mainly allows you to look at recipes or meal planners, and does not even allow you to see deals, look at what is available at your local store, or order food. Ben Davies, VYPR

Not transactional, but uses recipes as a great way of building your shopping list to take in store. The ‘on hand’ feature is neat - letting you find recipes with what you have in your kitchen. Rick Grundy, Techdept

Given the low number of stores and penetration in the UK, I would say overall the app is marketing. Nice to have but does little to connect me with the brand or the stores from a transactional perspective. Mark Collin, ThoughtWorks




Speed: 7.42

Navigation: 8.00

Aesthetic design: 6.92

Functionality: 7.73

Overall score: 7.52

There is something familiar about this app - to all intents and purposes, it is the same app as Morrisons’. That’s no great surprise given the well-publicised deal last year for Morrisons to use Ocado’s e-commerce platform. This clearly extends into mobile apps, as this is just a re-skinned version with only a couple of minor differences. Baydr Yadallee, Hi Mum! Said Dad

Good to start with, as they offer a simple guide on how to use the app, and easy to navigate. Very quick to add, buy and select delivery. And so it should be. Ben Davies, VYPR

Great to use because it remembers exactly what you bought last time, and gives you the option to add all the items straight to your basket, making building a shopping list effortless! Abbey Torrance, Carat



Speed: 5.23

Navigation: 5.23

Aesthetic design: 6.62

Functionality: 5.54

Overall score: 5.40

When you do use the online shopping section, the search functionality is poor: it doesn’t auto-complete as you type, meaning you have to type the whole word and tap go. The results were disappointing too. When searching for ‘baked beans,’ the first item in the search results was Sainsbury’s spaghetti in tomato sauce. Baydr Yadallee, Hi Mum! Said Dad

An almost excruciating experience. It’s slow and buggy and the usability leaves a lot to be desired. After 30 minutes of trying, I was unable to register an account through the app so was unable to test the order process. Phil Bennett, Carswell Gould

The Sainsbury’s app I found quite confusing. Compared others it was low on features and not a seamless experience throughout. Mark Collin, ThoughtWorks



Speed: 7.08

Navigation: 6.77

Aesthetic design: 6.92

Functionality: 6.92

Overall score: 6.92

The overall aesthetic of the app was good, though it was a little slow at times loading lists of products. The product listing page was clean and well thought through, allowing easy digestion of all the product information. The app also used location services, so getting a live update of my nearest store’s petrol station prices was a nice touch as a driver. Tomm Warham, Wink Nudge

‘Find a store’ was rather zoomed out. It included a Southampton store when I was in Reading. Has a scanning function for search that was fast and efficient. Paul Swaddle, Pocket App

Excellent, intuitive navigation and good search function, offered scanning and there was clear visibility of minimum shelf life for relevant products. Gareth Thomas, Zetes

The Methodology…

Apps were tested on both iPhones and Android models.

Panellists rated the apps on speed, navigation, aesthetic design and functionality to deliver an overall score. They also noted their reasons and highlighted any particularly good, or bad, points.

The total did not include scores from consumers, but we have provided them for comparison in the blue panels at the top of each retailer’s entry: scores are based on the average star ratings from Apple and Android app stores (Booths and Whole Foods only on iOS)

We could not include ‘transactional ease’ as this criterion could not be applied to all the apps (and as we’ve seen from the star ratings, consumers can value a limited but effectively executed app more highly than a full-scale transactional app that doesn’t work. Our panel of experts:

● Mobile marketing consultancy and app developers Wink Nudge

● Pocket App, which is the largest independent app developer in the UK

● Push Technology, a web and app developer with numerous corporate clients and offices in the UK and US

● Mubaloo which was voted app developer of the year in 2012 and 2013;

● Hi Mum! Said Dad, which has built apps for Molson Coors, Mondelez and Coca-Cola

● Conjure which has built apps for Fullers, Cadbury and Nicorette

● Thoughtworks, which has built apps for hundreds of global clients

● Future Platforms, which has built apps for the Premier League and Dominos

● Vypr, a mobile development agency founded by a former Sainsbury’s buyer that provides solutions to M&S

● Techdept, which has developed apps for the BBC and Topshop;

● Zetes, which has worked alongside supermarkets to develop mobile technology for over 20 years

● Marketing communications agency Carswell Gould

● Global media agency Carat