Waitrose is developing a recipe inspiration app linked to loyalty card data which can alert customers to grocery items they have bought recently.

Using content created by the grocer's Waitrose Kitchen magazine over the years, the app will provide customers with meal suggestions. Customers can filter recipes by main ingredient, cooking time and how difficult the meal is to cook.

Speaking at RBTE 2017, Matt Clifton, head of customer experience at Waitrose, said: "Something like 40% of us don't now what we're going to eat tonight by 4pm, that drives people to the store who want to get in and get out quickly, but not knowing what they are going to buy."

Clifton described how the prototype app provides visual images as well as information such as what cooking utensils are needed to make the dish.

The app can also generate a shopping list so customers can remember which ingredients to buy when they visit the store.

"But what's really clever is it also offers up information, such as 'you've got curry powder here, but we know you bought that three days ago so you don't need to buy it again'," explained Clifton. "You might think that isn't sensible as we want to drive sales, but people value that and come back to us."

The app has already been tested on a select number of customers for a couple of weeks in two London stores, and the grocer is now evaluating whether to roll it out widely.

If rolled out, Clifton said the recipe inspiration offering would be part of the wider MyWaitrose app. "We want to build it all in one capability," he said. "And we don't want it just for in-store online."

Clifton said the prototype has been designed so customers can choose how they want to have it fulfilled.

"We know Sainsbury's are doing very similar things and we're not claiming this to be revolutionary," he said, noting how it's the right thing to do in order to give customers choice to maintain sales and profitability.

He also said Waitrose is looking at how to combine shopping lists from multiple MyWaitrose members living under one roof so online shopping lists can be shared.

"Rather than having multiple lists, we can link the MyWaitrose accounts and all those people can see the same list," explained Clifton. "It saves the texts I frequently get which say: 'don't forge to pick up bananas' and I have to go home and fess up."

These lists will also inform the customer if they've purchase an item recently, reminding them they don't really need to buy it.