The retail industry growth has been phenomenal over the past few years and advent of smartphones has opened an array of new opportunities for retailers. As more retailers jump into the ‘mobile app bandwagon’, they have realized that apart from selling their products over a phone, there is more that can be achieved. The retailers have begun to provide innovative mobile apps for their consumers with better User Interface and latest technologies like augmented reality, GPS embedded into the app.
In this article, we would like to explain how retailers are adopting innovative mobility solutions, with real examples of five popular retail mobile apps available in the app stores.
1. Crate & Barrel’s 3D Room Designer Mobile Application
Crate and Barrel operates a chain of home furnishing stores in the United States. They have come up with an incredible app called the “3D room designer”. This app allows you to redesign any room in your house with furniture and accessories from Crate and Barrel. All you need to do is provide a picture and the dimensions of your room and the app creates a virtual room for you to design your room. You can pick and choose from the products available and place it in your virtual room. If you like what you see, the app allows you to buy the product too.
This app provides a unique shopping experience. It allows you to visualize, how a particular furniture will look in your room before you can actually buy it.
2. Walmart Mobile Application
Walmart’s mobile app takes different forms, when the customer is in the store or at home, and operates as a running shopping list, recommendation engine and circular for ads. The mobile app has the ability to guide customers (via GPS) directly to products in its colossal stores, and even allows them to skip the checkout line through the ‘scan and pay’ capability for the selected items from your smartphone. When you are at home, the app allows you to generate a shopping list. Once inside a store, the app automatically shifts to in-store mode and makes the list easily accessible by locating items in the store. It also has a recommendation feature. If a consumer finds one item, it will recommend what merchandise will compliment it.
According to Walmart, its app-wielding customers make twice the shopping trips per month and spend 40% more than non-app users. That’s a clear sign that the retail giant’s efforts to use mobile to improve its business in the digital age is working.
3. NM Application
Neiman Marcus is an American luxury specialty department store. The ‘NM app’ blends content and commerce to promote interaction with customers on-the-go. The app has two interfaces, one for shoppers and one for sales associates. Shoppers are able to browse event schedules, new arrivals and promotions. As they browse, they can add products as ‘favorite’ and even arrange for it to be placed in a dressing room ahead of arrival. They can also schedule appointments and leave messages for associates.
Sales associates’ version of the app enables users to view shopper’s online and in-store purchase history and suggest items that might compliment previous purchases. They can also view which products the customer has indicated as ‘favorite’. Associates get notified when a preferred customer arrives in the store.
4. Walgreen Mobile Application
The app allows users to get refills, place orders and look at deals in store. The app also has features like medication reminder and pill tracker. Pill tracking and refill reminders help improve medication adherence. The app literally ensures app users (patients) to take their medications on time as directed by the doctors.
The app also provides access to a digital version of Walgreens’ popular weekly advertising circulars and allow users to create shopping list. At the store, customers can view aisle maps of the specific branch. This helps customers find their medicines easily and quickly.
Other additional features include store locator, look-up medication information, order photographic services and schedule appointments at in-store ‘Take care health system clinics’.
Walgreens has released an application programming interface (API) for app developers. They can build prescription scanning and refilling technology into their own apps and connect with Walgreen stores.
According to Walgreens, customers who have engaged with Walgreens in-person, online and via mobile apps spend six times more than those who only visit stores. Even those who use the mobile app before visiting stores and not Walgreens websites generate four times the sales than store-only customers.
5. Starbucks Mobile Application
The Coffeehouse chain Starbucks’ mobile app is another popular retail app. With Starbucks Mobile app, you buy products using your phone. You can also view your transaction history, track your reward points, and locate a mobile payment Starbucks near you. The ‘Shake to Pay’ feature gives access to your barcode for instant pay. It also lets you share your appreciation through a digital tip function. Other features include a drink builder, coffee and food menu, store locator, QR code scanner, and access to Starbucks Digital Network for free music and news content on the web.
Starbucks has another mobile app called “Square Wallet“. Square Wallet links to your credit or debit card, letting you use your phone to pay at participating Starbucks stores. “Square Wallet” was also built to support other local businesses. You can discover new places and look for deals that are being provided by other participating neighborhood stores.
Starbucks mobile app has been remarkably successful with ten million people currently using the mobile software to pay for their orders inside stores.
According to Digby, all companies in store magazine’s Top 100 and Hot 100 list offer a mobile app. The same analysis also shows that 100 % of the top 20 revenue-producing retailers from 2013 are now offering branded mobile apps for customers. Thus, we can safely assume that retailers cannot grow their business without a mobile app in the current scenario.
In addition, mobile technology is constantly ‘changing’ and along with it is ‘customer expectations’. This will invariably be a challenge for all retailers to cope. Nevertheless, on the brighter side improving technology also means that applications are going to more innovative and user-friendly in near time.
Sr. Marketing Analyst, RapidValue Solutions