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6 high street retail apps and the lessons you can learn from them

Following the announcement by UK department store giant John Lewis that it has surpassed £1 billion sales online a year earlier than expected the retailer also revealed a new £40 million web platform, a revamp of its mobile site which now accounts for 25% of traffic, and announced that will launch a new app later this year. It’s no surprise they are revisiting an already successful app after research from Flurry Analytics earlier this year revealed shoppers spent six times as long in mobile retail apps in December than a year previous. Such apps need to do more than simply be an entrance to the company’s mobile store and truly add value. So with apps now central to building loyalty and traffic what are retailers doing to stand out and what lessons can be learnt?

1)      EBAY – Offer variety by going niche

EBay’s selection of targeted apps to meet its customer needs and improve their shopping experience is wide-ranging – from its full EBay store to the more targeted EBay Fashion and EBay Motors as well as its more niche apps such as ticket outlet StubHub! or entertainment media outlet half.com. However its RedLaser app allows EBay to further demonstrate the strength of its offer by allowing consumers to scan barcodes to find the best deals on eBay, online or in their local area and has recently been updated to add further functionality.

2)      TOYS R US – Be a useful tool

We’ve all faced the same problem of not knowing what toy to buy for a young child but Toys R US has turned that to its advantage with the Toys R Us Toy Finder. The key component of its latest app allows children to build wishlists from the company’s entire catalogue of products and share them with friends and family who can then buy with ease – a useful tool that really does help.

3)      ARGOS –Make it easy

It would be expected that Argos’ app would allow shoppers to do the basics such as allowing shoppers to check stock and reserve their products on the move as well as providing opening times and directions for their closest store.  But when the company launched the app it did so with a television ad campaign that also allowed viewers with the Shazam app to directly download the new Argos App via an onscreen Shazam prompt onscreen. As effortless as the app itself.

4)      GAP – Share the knowledge

Retailers have a wealth of information at their fingertips and at Gap the fashion giant is sharing that with its shoppers by allowing shoppers instore to scan barcodes which check availability of alternative sizes and colours and get further product information whilst also allowing them to share with their friends too, allowing them to email products they like to friends, family or themselves. Its sub brand Old Navy also adds a unique twist with its Snap Appy app that offers unexpected titbits – from deals to games or fashion advise each time you capture a photo of an Old Navy logo.

5)      TESCO – Add value and inspire

As the UK’s biggest retailer you would expect Tesco to allow shopping via its app but where the company really adds value with its mobile app is with its recipes, cooking tips and videos whilst its Ipad and Chrome app also includes meal planners that allow the shopper to add ingredients directly to their basket driving sales for the retailer and making the customer’s life just that little easier and increasing the basket size for Tesco.

6)      ASDA – Make it fun

Asda has learnt lots from its US parent Walmart and its app is award winning for its convenient features such as top as you go on delivery orders up to 11pm the night before and barcode scanning. At Walmart the app can even identify the aisle number for the product you are interested in. However Asda added a handy tool for busy mums with its interactive Easter Egg Hunt this Easter which allowed parents to take a photo of their children with an augmented reality virtual bunny to enter a competition for £100 to spend at the store. Meanwhile on Easter Saturday kids could use the app to find Zapcodes in an interactive Easter Egg hunt instore – a genius idea to drive footfall and keep kids busy.        

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