5 features most retail apps are missing

Many retailers are missing fundamental features within their app to truly draw in loyal customers and ramp up sales.

These days, retail apps have become standard — 90% of millennials use their smartphones in-store while they are shopping. Today’s shoppers are clearly inclined to use their mobile devices as part of the shopping experience, which has prompted most major retailers to develop apps of their own.

However, simply offering an app is not enough. A retail app is only valuable if it drives engagement and sales, and many retailers are struggling to achieve that goal. Traditional loyalty apps no longer retain the interest of shoppers seeking personalisation and convenience.

>See also: The rise, or fall of the retail app?

Let’s take a look at five features your retail app is missing that can help turn your retail app into something shoppers actually use.

1. Virtual aisles

Shoppers pull out their smartphones while shopping to get more information. They could be comparing prices, looking up product specs, or searching for different sizes or colours.

One aspect of e-commerce that makes it compelling is targeted recommendations. The internet, in its vastness, can present more options than physical stores will ever be able to.

A customer searching for a black dress or tennis racket, for example, can be helped along by recommendations on the bottom or side of the screen that help them find what they are looking for. Or if they regularly buy a product, like a certain type of vitamin or diapers, online retailers can store that information and automate the purchase.

>See also: The evolution into a cashier-less future

Retailers can keep customers interest with virtual aisles, which allow shoppers to browse and buy from an expanded inventory of products that are not carried in physical stores.

If they spot a pair of shoes they like, virtual aisles could make several more colours available, instead of the two displayed on the shelf. This capability enables physical retailers to offer the same breadth and depth of products as online retailers, without needing to invest in more physical space. It also helps increase cart sizes.

2. Personalised coupons

Brick-and-mortar retailers can make their app a must-have by delivering personalised coupons. Because mobile devices contain a wealth of data about their owners, retailers can gain valuable insight into customer’s shopping history and make offers that are tailored to them.

This can drive quick conversions and lower drop-off rates. Customers will appreciate that the app not only enables them to save money, but also treats them as a valued customer.

Personalised coupons are also a way for retailers to build a sense of community. Apps are interactive, and this allows retailers to create loyalty programs that are multidimensional.

>See also: The golden quarter and the challenge for online retail

Instead of the traditional linear-approach, where spending more money equates to more loyalty points, retailers can create programs that account for social influence, awareness, self promotion, usage, reach and community involvement, and delivers coupons accordingly.

3. Dynamic pricing with gamification

Price is one of the biggest reasons why people “showroom.” Shoppers want to feel confident that they are getting the best possible deal and retailers can use in-app price matching to engage them.

Automating price matching prevents customers from searching elsewhere for a lower price. Dynamic pricing is another opportunity for engagement. Through dynamic pricing (like the airline industry), retailers can keep their prices competitive in real-time, optimise their inventory, and keep customers using the app to jump on great deals.

It also adds a certain gamification aspect to the shopping experience, where finding the instant dynamic price during the in store shopping journey through a mobile scan provides not only a higher level of interaction between the shopper and the products in the store, but also leaves a trail of digital breadcrumbs in the store.

4. Omnichannel cart

Shopping journeys can now extend across many platforms. A customer might research an item on their desktop, go look at it in-store, and then make the purchase on their mobile device.

>See also: Mobile still has the edge on IoT devices in seamless retail environments

Retailers can keep their apps competitive by offering an omnichannel cart that delivers a consistent shopping experience across all channels. Omnichannel carts bundle in-store, online and virtual transactions, so shoppers can access all the features and information they need, regardless of how they are shopping.

For example, they could be in-store and use an app to identify items that are available for immediate shipping, if they don’t want to carry the product home that day.

In addition, customers can come to the store through a BOPIS (buy online pickup in store) transaction, and add more items to their omnichannel cart while they are in store, and complete the entire purchase with just one purchase transaction. The omnichannel cart can also extend to include digital/virtual goods as well as services and recurring fees.

5. Seamless checkout

The final feature your retail app is missing is seamless checkout. Consumers don’t like to wait in lines. With retail apps, they don’t have to. Instead, they can checkout using their mobile devices, saving time and improving the customer experience, which increases satisfaction and loyalty.

There are a number of different approaches to mobile checkout. The Starbucks Order & Pay feature allows customers to place and pay for orders from their mobile devices and then pick-up the item in-store.

Amazon Go is testing a concept using Mobile Check-in, whereby shoppers walk into a store, check in with their phone, pick the items they want buy, and walk out of the store.

>See also: Technology will revolutionise the retail experience

Beyond saving time, mobile checkout is an opportunity for retailers to engage shoppers in other ways, such as presenting suggestions, recommendations and tips that lead to bigger carts.

These features are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of driving engagement and sales. Furthermore, they also help retailers reduce costs and improve their bottom line in other ways.

Take mobile self-checkout, which reduces the need for large (and expensive) checkout areas and costs associated with checkout staff. Or virtual aisles, which allow retailers to reduce the inventory in-store to optimise their physical space.

Robust apps can have a dramatic impact on a retailer’s business, if they are equipped with the right capabilities – leading to higher engagement and loyalty while retaining or improving the top line revenue, and greatly reducing the costs.


Sourced by Amitaabh Malhotra, CMO of Omnyway

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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