Good news for US retailers who have an app. According to App Annie, “The US had an astounding 1.3X growth year-over-year in 2015 in retail apps.” But is your retail app truly fit for success? Let’s take a look at the top 5 retail apps and see what you can take away from them.

retail apps usa

Top Retail Apps USA by App Annie

1. Amazon

amazon app retail

Amazon app

Pretty much everyone’s “go-to” app for online shopping (with the exception of Alibaba in China).  According to Statista, Amazon had a net $107 Billion dollars in sales earnings. Yes, that is with a capital “B.” With millions of products being purchased every day, finding that vintage album of Vietnamese rock and roll from 1966 is likely available on Amazon.

2. Wish

wish app shopping mobile first

Wish app

3. Walmart

walmart app USA

Walmart app

It’s the classic American story that went from a small general store in Arkansas in the 1950s to a multi-billion-dollar corporation today. Walmart’s simple model, “save more, live better” has attracted consumers for decades. Its app enables a “Savings Catcher” which compares prices on eligible purchases. It shows lower prices when consumers are located in a geo-range. Additionally, it offers pharmacy prescriptions refill tracking, fast pick up in stores, special savings via notifications, etc.

4. Walgreens

walgreens retail app

Walgreens app

A major pharmacy and health/wellness retail brand in the US, Walgreens has nearly 10,000 stores nationwide. They offer prescription requests for refills, live doctor consultations, photo printing, Weekly Ads for coupon clippings for the Balance Rewards card. Additionally, in-app only rewards and enhanced user experiences when a customer opens the app inside the stores.

5. Cartwheel (Target’s app)

Target’s mobile app, aka Cartwheel, offers a savings program from 5-50% on the items purchased in-store. Users can scan the barcode at checkout to save.  Additionally, the consumer can clip “real” digital coupons which can be triggered when users walk by a certain promotion in store (enabled by beacon technology). Although these apps might seem far-reaching to compete with and are wildly successful in the marketplace, it doesn’t mean that you (as a brand) can’t apply similar elements in your own mobile app in order to convert, retain and grow.

target app retail

Target app

Here are 3 key takeaways you can learn from:

1. Offer an Outstanding Rewards System

Unless you’re a luxury brand, most, if not all of your customers are looking for a way to save money. Offer contextually relevant coupons that cater to the interests of your users. Amazon offers smart recommendations based on the user’s preferences and usage within the app. It shows how often users visit, open, touch, read or dwell on a screen/product/offer within the app. If your brand can enable a connection of data between your app channel and your other systems like e-commerce or CRM, you can segment your mobile audiences smarter. Monitoring activity inside or outside the app through loyalty points is another way to boost the rewards which in return, incentivizes your customers to spend more.

2. Link to Other Apps or Sites (Deep Linking)

Deep linking is similar to a web hyperlink where a user can search within the app, link to another app, or to a mobile site. A large part of Wish’s early success is owed to deep links from ads on Facebook and Instagram that lead users to the offers inside the app. Enabling deep linking to the app promotions is a basic necessity for indexing better content. Let’s say you want to target female users, on Facebook, ages 18-25, who have a history of viewing your Facebook page once a week. Target them with an ad for a special 48-hour weekend in-store sale and offer them an in-app only coupon which they can show inside stores to the cashier by their phone.

3. Enhance the In-Store Experience with Ultra Personalization & Beacons

Target does a nice job of leveraging beacon campaigns inside stores. When beacons are paired with the right mobile app engagement solution, you can configure the beacons in certain touch points inside the store, like for example, place a beacon by the entrance, so when a customer walks by, they receive a personalized welcome message even if their app is closed! Or if a customer dwells for over a minute by a certain promotion, they receive a rich product information message. You can trigger a store map send to the customers’ phone, pick up deliveries, etc. The list of possibilities is endless.

Retailers face tough challenges today in gaining customer mind share. However, with a good mobile app strategy, your brand’s app can excel with the right solution.

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