The App Imperative for Retailers

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Two-thirds of the 140 million Americans with smartphones say they are more likely to shop at a store with an app. That’s the lede in Apigee’s recent survey report, “The Mobile Mandate for Retail,” which outlines a number of considerations for retailers who are still on the fence about mobile applications.

While many of this study’s findings may not surprise you, they do validate the position of mobile advocates in retail. Having data like this make its way into the executive suite is about all it should take to finally get the budget funding you’re looking for.

A mobile app is a necessity

Yes, mobile consultants have been saying this for years, but now we have the data to back it up.

More than 8 in 10 (81%) smartphone owners say their phone or tablet has changed the way they shop.
Apigee’s The Mobile Mandate for Retail report

Just this week I was at the grocery store near my home and saw an older gentleman wheeling around with his shopping cart and an iPad propped up in the seat – the paper shopping list has all but vanished from existence.

The next time you’re in a store, spend some time watching others around you. How many do you notice using their smartphones as wayfinding devices to navigate the aisles?

And if those customers aren’t using your app, whose app are they using? You can bet they’re not watching Netflix while they shop.

Apps are an influential engagement channel

Just as some companies have been able to prove that social customers are more valuable, Apigee’s findings revealed that the average favorability toward retailers offering apps was 40% higher among users of the company’s app versus non-users!

And don’t think these numbers are skewed just because users of a retailer’s app are likely already among their most loyal customers. Even if you isolate the data simply based on shopping frequency, the results are still significant.

Looking only at shoppers who indicate they shop frequently at a given store [considered to be loyal customers], favorability for that retailer is 5% higher among those who use the store’s app compared to those who do not.
Apigee’s The Mobile Mandate for Retail report

Apps can drive behavior

It’s not just about your downloads number. Mobile applications can actually drive behavior! And isn’t that what we’re looking for as marketers?

Being able to perform an action using a mobile app significantly increased respondent’s stated likelihood of performing each action.
Apigee’s The Mobile Mandate for Retail report

Whether you’re looking to drive coupon downloads, email sign-ups, or your social following, you need to be thinking about how a mobile app could fit into the picture.

And don’t just publish an app for the sake of getting it out there. This is not a checklist opportunity. Apps that simply replicate existing functionality and have no added utility are being tossed by the wayside.

If you’re going to develop an app, it must be adding value to your retail experience – if it doesn’t it’s not going to last.

Do you use any retail apps that are doing things extremely well? Please add your examples in the comments.

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