Comment: An appy business
22 May 2012 | by The Retail BulletinAs a retailer, why should I have an app?
If you want to drive footfall into store, interact with customers on a new level and create stronger brand loyalty, apps should be on your radar. They allow you to access customers on the go – you can send out vouchers instantly, and push event details and contact information at any time. Remember, your customers will always have their smartphone with them, so it’s almost as though your business is in their pocket. It’s no wonder that by 2021, British consumers are likely to spend as much as £18 billion through their mobile handsets.
What do I need to consider?
Although it’s never been easier for retailers to get an app developed, it’s important to be aware of what you’re taking on. With personalised apps ranging in price from £250 to tens of thousands, it pays to know exactly what you’re getting into. So where do you start?
Before you sit down with a developer and create your app, really think about what you want to get from it. Generally, with app development, the more features you want to add, the higher the cost, so there’s no point adding a multimedia video feature if you never plan to do anything with it. Simplicity is the best way to start. You can always update your app to include all the bells and whistles once you have seen the success rate of your existing application.
Remember, it can often be the most straightforward apps that makes the biggest impression on consumers. Apps are about making it easier for your customer to contact you or purchase from your business. The easier you can make it to use, the more likely it is to be popular and provide a better return on your investment.
Bear in mind, simple doesn’t have to be boring! Try adding features like interactive loyalty cards which encourage customers to come back to you again and again. They can ‘check-in’ on their app, triggering special gifts and discounts when they’re in the vicinity of your store. This is a great way to encourage them into your bricks-mortar-premises, as well as keeping tabs on your best customers!
As the retail industry adapts to 21st century shoppers’ changing habits, apps can provide a fantastic boost to business for retailers who make the most of them.
Paul Sanders is the co-founder and technical director at Apps4
 International Telecommunication Union
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