A retail mobile app is an important part of many retail companies’ marketing and customer service strategies. Retail apps vary from offering product information, search and browsing capabilities, barcode scanning, and price comparison features to providing rich media and interactive content such as 3D and virtual reality (VR).
Several factors determine whether or not a retail mobile app is successful. Among them: does it offer anything new? Is the interface easy enough for users of all skill levels to work with? Is the app user-friendly? How do design elements such as color scheme and typeface portray the brand image? What type of data will be collected through the app, and what’s done with that data? Will consumers keep using it? These questions and more should be considered when developing a retail mobile app.
What you need to know before getting started:
- Research the competition
- Establish your app’s target audience
- Determine your app’s key features and functions
- Design a user-friendly interface
- Create a marketing plan for the launch of the app to get immediate ROI
- Develop an effective way to engage new users after they download the app
Research the competition
Not only will the research help you to determine what makes an app successful, it gives you a better idea of where your app fits in. Review similar apps and note how they do things. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of each example, then create a plan that builds upon what others have done while presenting something new to users.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel: many retail apps rely on data visualization and barcode scanning technology, for example. These types of features can be applied in creative ways; for example, make the focus on visualizing more than just price points or product descriptions. As long as you stay within your brand’s voice and style, offer something different from what other apps already offer (while offering some of the same).
Establish your app’s target audience
Determine who is using retail apps, and keep them in mind when designing your own. Apps that provide product information, such as size and color, for example, require a different interface than those that use VR or AR technology to allow users to virtually “try on” clothing. Remember that you’re catering to customers shopping on the go; if they can’t use it with ease while standing in a store aisle with a smartphone in one hand and a shopping cart in the other, it’s not going to be successful.
Divide user roles into two categories: experienced and novice users. Experienced users seek out new challenges through an app experience; they don’t want an app that’s too easy to use, so tough it out and make something they have to work for. Novice users are either new to technology or only somewhat experienced; you’ll want to cater specifically to this group, making your retail mobile app intuitive enough for all skill levels (and maybe even fun).
Determine your app’s key features and functions
For example, include product information such as size charts, color options or descriptions. Users can also shop through the app by scanning an item’s barcode with their device camera (if applicable), which will pull up more detailed info about the product. Some apps provide 3D models of products; these usually require high-quality photo images for them to look realistic when manipulating them.
Design a user-friendly interface
Users should be able to easily navigate the app, even if it’s their first time using it. Do your best to make it intuitive; for example, include a “home” button where they can easily go back to the main screen by tapping/clicking on it. This is especially important for novice users (if forgetting to include this element can lead users to simply give up and delete it).
Think about how you would like your retail mobile app designed, then apply that same logic when creating the design elements. For instance, use color choices that are uniform across sections of the app so there’s no confusion as far as where information is coming from or where different items are being shown. The more uniform everything looks, the easier it will be for users to navigate and understand what they’re seeing.
Create a marketing plan for the launch of the app to get immediate ROI
Most retail mobile apps fail as soon as people head back into their offices if there’s no following or excitement surrounding it. You must have a marketing plan in place that gets people talking about your app before its launch, keeps them anticipating its release, and continues to create excitement after it hits the market.
A few ways to do this include:
– Sending out press releases with review codes so media members can write about it ahead of time
– Emailing lists/inviting specific groups of users to beta test the app so they can experience it and share their feedback
– Creating a social media ad campaign to generate interest before the launch, but be sure to continue it after so users are aware that your app is out now
– Sending newsletters or updating blog posts with details about the launch date so existing fans are reminded
Create an effective way to engage new users after they download the app
No matter how amazing your retail mobile app is, if you don’t have ways to pull people in and keep them interested, they’ll quickly become disengaged. Provide different incentives for user engagement, whether it’s something as simple as keeping track of how long people have used your app or by adding leaderboards where users can compete against one another. Keep users returning by developing challenges and scheduling special user-only events.
If you’ve been in retail for any amount of time, then the changing ways we shop and interact with our mobile devices are likely already familiar to you. You want to be ahead of the curve when it comes to giving people what they’ll want before they even know they need it because when you do, not only will your ROI skyrocket, but so will your shopper’s satisfaction when using your retail mobile app. So when developing a mobile app for your retail company keep these tips in mind and have fun with it!