The best retail mobile apps don’t just make it easy for customers to purchase using their phone. They also offer an extra level of personalisation, which increases customer loyalty and can drive sales.
It’s not as simple as creating an app and expecting customers to use it—you need to offer something special. Here are four retailers, selling four very different products, who are giving shoppers a reason to hit download.
Sephora’s app makes purchasing via mobile simple and offers exclusive specials like access to previews and promotions customers won’t find anywhere else.
But the coolest part of the beauty retailer’s app is the ‘Virtual Artist’ feature. This uses augmented reality to let shoppers ‘try on’ various lip colours, which they can then purchase. You can compare different colours and filter by brand, colour and finish (matte, high shine etc.) and photograph or video the results. The app then makes it really easy to share the finished look across your social channels, making sure to prompt users to include #SephoraVirtualArtist and @sephoraaus.
Not only is Sephora’s app useful—allowing customers to try before they buy without entering a physical store—it encourages customers to share with their peers. It’s also a pretty fun way to waste five minutes.
Coffee chain Starbucks is a pioneer in getting customers to pay via mobile, and its app is one of the most successful. In fact, the company predicts that within a few years its mobile app will account for more than 50 per cent of all transactions in company-owned US stores.
So why do customers love it? First, it’s convenient as shoppers in the US can order and pay in advance using the app. It is also connected to Starbucks’ extremely popular loyalty program. To date, Starbucks Rewards has around 13.3 million active members, who account for 36 per cent of US company operated sales.
These millions of customers can connect the app to their Starbucks Rewards membership account, easily earning points every time they spend.
Since launching in 2011, Australian ecommerce fashion retailer The Iconic has been recognised as an innovator, so it makes sense the company is ahead of the curve when it comes to mobile.
At A Vivid Sydney event on mobile marketing last year managing director and co-founder Adam Jacobs said he predicts 80 per cent of sales will come from apps in the future, rather than the web. Today, the Iconic’s iOS and Android apps have been downloaded on more than one million devices and mobile accounts for more than two thirds of its traffic.
Personalisation is a big drawcard for customers using the app. Not only do they have first access to sales and special offers, they can curate their own version of The Iconic by following their favourite brands and entering other preferences in the app.
US pharmacy chain Walgreens bills its app as ‘Your health, in your hands’ and offers the tools customers need to make this a reality. This includes a whole range of health-related features like live doctor consultation, where customers can see a doctor via a video call and have a prescription sent straight to a pharmacy for pickup; set pill reminders; and live chat with a pharmacist at any time.
Interestingly, more than 20 per cent of Wallgreens app users are over-55, which is not the demographic usually associated with mobile. Walgreens divisional VP loyalty Mindy Heintskill said this is because the app helps customers connect with pharmacists as they would in-store.
“We wanted to replicate that connection digitally, so customers can get a high-value, personalised experience even when they can’t make it into a store,” she said. “We’ve also seen opportunities for tools like individual pill reminders and prescription alerts to help our customers simplify their daily lives.”
The app also gamifies health. Users can get points for logging healthy activities they do every day, from walking to weigh ins and doing a blood glucose test.
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