Your Retail App Sucks.
Your retail app sucks. But wait, hear me out. Your customers want to use it, but it’s difficult to navigate, buggy and doesn’t offer clear value.
Today’s consumer is looking for two things: to save money and to save time, which can be directly influenced by a retail app. They want an application that can help them save money, through promotions, rewards and easy to use coupons and enhance their shopping experience by making them more efficient.
How do I know this?
I asked around. My inner product manager broke through and I reached out to family, friends, and even some confused fellow shoppers while doing my weekly grocery run. I asked them if they used retail applications; if so, what made them download it, keep it on their phone and continue to use it? For those who did not use the retail apps, I asked why they didn’t, or if they did at one point, why did they stop?
The takeaway was that apps were not easy to use and/or they didn’t offer anything worthwhile to keep the user engaged. A great idea or app can fall down on the future-proofing and be only a flash in the pan.
Let’s distill it down, shoppers want two things:
Enhanced Shopping Experience
There are many ways an app can enhance a shopper’s experience in your store, so let’s keep to the main one. First, customers want what they want and they want it now–speed. This means they do not want to wait around for things to load, they want to be able to find products in the store and if they aren’t in the store they want to easily get it sent to them (or find out where the closest store is that has the item in question). Let’s look at one of the arguably best in-app experiences, Starbucks. A customer wants a Grande Nitro Cold Brew with Sweet Cream, which may or may not be one of my go tos. They can fire up the app without a delay, pick out what they want, see where it is available (yeah, I have to go out of my way in my home state for these), then buy it, pick it up in-store and enjoy. Seamless.
Word on the street is that Sephora is also killing it. When you open the app your favorite products are right there, ready for a refill–you can purchase and have them shipped to you or ready and waiting at the store. When you get to the store, you are reminded to use your loyalty card, a must for any would-be retail organization. Furthermore, and likely most appealing, the app allows users to “try out” different products using their selfie, adjusting for various lighting environments and skin tones to give the truest approximation of how it will look on their person.
Luckily, all of these enhancements relate directly to the second want, saving money.
Shopping spree? Not in this economy. To most, saving money is almost a sport. Any retail app that offers deals, discounts and coupons are bound to bring people in and keep them (assuming you also follow the aforementioned suggestions). Shoppers are looking for ways they can get more, and spend less time doing it. In-store location beacons or barcodes at featured products are a great way to leverage your app while customers are on location. Target’s Cartwheel app is a prime example of in-store sales with online coupons. Let’s say you happen to be grabbing some brushed nickel shower curtain hooks and see that bath towels are 35% off; you could use some fresh, new bath towels. So you pop open the app, load the promo into your profile, grab your towels and brushed nickel shower curtain hooks, roll up to the register and flash your app–the barcode is scanned from your app, 35% taken off the towels and you are off to enjoy a refreshed bathroom experience.
The less effort a customer has to put into taking advantage of your store’s discounts the more likely they are to keep using your app, and returning to your store. You’ve enhanced their shopping experience AND saved them money.
At the end of the day, design a nice app that works.
We all really want one thing, an app that works well and gives a reason for your customers to use it and keep coming back to you. Built-in features customers will use like barcode scanning that decodes even damaged barcodes (have you heard of TachyonIQ?). Don’t forget who you are designing for and what they are really needing it to do–save them time and money, that is how you gain loyalty. There is a lot of online competition out there, but there is something to be said about walking down an aisle and seeing something you absolutely must have, such as brushed nickel shower hooks. Keep up the good work, I believe in you.