Mobile applications are all the rage with retailers right now. Many retailers have one and those that don’t, want one. But are shoppers benefiting from these apps that retailers spend tons of money creating and maintaining?
A shopper goes through a pretty basic journey before buying. They realize a need, explore different options, find what they need, consider the final purchase, then make a purchase. A retailer’s app should make the shopping experience better to keep their shoppers coming back. But most retailer apps are failing at that.
Here are three suggestions to help retailer apps to be successful—for themselves and for their shoppers.
- Solve a problem: Figure out your shopper’s problems and help solve them. Maybe your products are high-ticket items requiring research before buying. Your app could be a comparison tool to help shoppers plan their purchase. Not only are apps a perfect way to reach people before they get to the store, they’re also a great way to gain customer loyalty by making your shopper’s life easier.
- Have a defined purpose: What benefit do you want your shoppers to get when using your app? Is the app based on a loyalty program or do you want them to pre-shop your store? Think about what suits your shopper the most. If they spend a lot of time planning their trip, focus your app on list making and gathering coupons before they even get to the store.
- Don’t wait for shoppers to come to you: Push notifications are changing the game. Retailers don’t have to wait for their shoppers to open apps anymore. Now, retailers can simply send a notification and grab the shopper’s attention immediately. Not only is this behavior becoming popular with retailers but shoppers are beginning to expect it. They don’t have to look for products because they know they will come to them. Successful applications will take advantage of push notifications and reach out to their shoppers before someone else does.
Let’s take a look at a few retailers that are doing apps right.
- CVS: Their Caremark app allows users to refill prescriptions, make purchases online to pick up in-store, and view deals in-store all at the same time. While all these features are great, the most notable is prescriptions refill. CVS focuses on health and wellness, and CVS shoppers can now pre-fill their prescriptions and avoid waiting or making multiple trips to the store.
- Starbucks: Starbucks knows first-class personal service means different things to different people and created an app that benefits everyone who has it, not just frequent buyers. Starbucks customers are generally in a hurry to get their coffee, and the app allows them to quickly pay for their beverage and be on their way, while rewarding them for doing it. But they don’t stop there. Last October, Starbucks launched a test allowing customers to pre-order for a set pick-up time.
- Domino's: Waiting for food to arrive after placing a delivery order can feel like an eternity. So Domino's created an app where you can not only order but also track your delivery.
- Lowe’s: Anyone who’s shopped Lowe’s knows that finding what you’re need can be difficult. The stores are massive and difficult to navigate. Knowing this, Lowe’s added a built-in scanner to their standard app. Now, shoppers can look up items in the store via barcodes, QR codes, even Microsoft Tags, making their trip much smoother.
- Target: Target’s Cartwheel app is a consumer favorite, mainly because of its many convenient features. The app lets shoppers create store lists, view Target’s weekly ad, and save coupons to use right at checkout. Even better, Cartwheel allows you to create and view wedding or baby registries. All around, the Target app makes the shopping experience better, easier and more affordable.
Whether good or bad, apps are everywhere. But you’ll notice that we’re starting to see a familiar shift—from creating just to create, to creating with a purpose.
Websites, like apps, used to be all the rage. Developers did everything they could to create a new webpage, whether it had a purpose or not. Then we realized for people to use them, they need to be relevant, solve a problem, and have a purpose.
Just like websites, apps will take this turn. But by following these three steps, retailers have a better chance at keeping their apps relevant.
Carly Smith is a strategist at Momentum Atlanta