A successful retail app combines novelty with functionality

by | Oct 7, 2015 | Experts, Omnichannel, Retailers

What does it take for retailers to boost their mobile mojo?

Being a standout in this jam-packed mobile space requires a well-designed strategy, one that will make a retailer’s app a must-have, a go-to and – most importantly – a “can’t-live-without.” After all, most smart phones are already awash in apps, with ones for games, wellness, social media, music – and a crazily endless list of others. And many apps don’t provide the level of function needed to be competitive.

SmartPhoneDollarAccording to an August ARC report titled “The Best and Worst Rated Retail Apps,” the most robust mobile functions showcase dynamic experiences such as one tap to see the best deals, seamless switching across devices, content and alerts pushed at the “perfect moment” and more.

The good news is that there are some retailers who are doing this app thing right. Starbucks – already a household name in all things coffee and caffeine – certainly doesn’t need to lean on an app to do good business. Nevertheless, it is making even more of a name for itself with its new app feature dubbed “Order and Pay,” which allows customers to order ahead of time and get their coffee on the spot upon arrival. It’s an ingenious approach that capitalizes on the already popular brand, with the added bonus of app customers being able to go directly to the front of the line. All consumers need to do after placing their order is head right over to a Starbucks barista to pick it up. They can even fulfill a mobile order in the drive-through.

Then there’s Under Armour, which has taken a completely unconventional approach by investing in digital platform partners. After all, who cares about developing an app when you can team up with others doing it better? And that’s EXACTLY what Under Armour did when hooked up Connected Fitness, the largest digital health and fitness community. The athletics apparel and shoe company spent more than $700 million to scoop up popular names like MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal. Under Armour has since become a dominating force in mobile, garnering 100,000 new users per day through these apps. It’s a stealthy, yet wildly effective way to play in the mobile space, without having to reinvent the wheel.

Meanwhile, Target is embracing yet another novel strategy: beacon technology. In several markets throughout the U.S., little egg-shaped devices are placed strategically throughout stores that transmit signals to customers who have the Target iPhone app. These signals then offer deals to customers when they are near certain merchandise, with the hopes that capturing their attention at the “perfect moment” will end in a sale.

Lastly, sometimes winning in mobile boils down to good, old-fashioned customer service. As retailers gather more information about consumer wants and needs, they are arming salespeople on the floor with this data at their fingertips to personalize and greatly improve the shopping experience. Nordstrom is on the cutting edge of providing this experience.

That all said, if you are retailer looking to step up your mobile game, see how the SPS Commerce Fulfillment solution can help make this process much easier – and more innovative!

SPS Commerce Blog Team

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