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Amazon and Argos top the UK retail app charts as UK leads the world in united on and offline retailing

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UK retailers are significantly ahead of European counterparts, France and Germany, when it comes to uniting the online and in-store shopping journey with apps. In Q4 2014, Amazon and Argos were the leading large retailers in UK app downloads, with both placing particular emphasis on creating an easier shopping process with their ‘1-click’ purchasing and reservation features.

This is according to a new report from App Annie and Kantar Retail, which found UK retailers rushing to blur the lines between online and offline retail with tactics such as ‘Click and Collect’, unlockable content and barcode scanners.

The ‘Top Retailers & The App Economy in the UK’ report, which launches today, suggests that mobile apps are the crucial component for retailers wanting to appeal to the ‘always on’ shopper.

‘Click and Collect’ boomed in 2014 with around 60% of retailers now offering the service. According to the report, this seems to be a particularly vital tactic for UK supermarkets, as all those listed in the top 25 apps offered this feature, with the exception of discount store apps Lidl and ALDI UK , neither of which offer in-­app shopping.

However, some retail apps, such as those of John Lewis and Topshop , have gone further to enrich their customers’ in-­store shopping experiences with features like unlockable content and barcode scanners for reviews and recommendations.

“The primary role of mobile apps in in-store shopping is to elevate the customer experience beyond what can simply be offered through physical stores and high streets,” says Olivier Bernard, VP of EMEAR at App Annie. “But, as technologies such as beacons and mobile payments develop further, we expect large retailers to go even further to provide an omni-­channel experience that can’t be matched by online-­ or mobile-­only competitors.”

In terms of app store distribution, all of the top retailers’ apps appeared on both iOS and Google Play, with iOS providing approximately 35% more downloads than Google Play in Q4 2014.

In the iOS App Store, approximately 25% of downloads for the top 25 apps from the Kantar Retail UK 25 came from iPad devices in Q4 2014. However, 10 of the top 25 apps were not iPad-­optimized and could be missing out significantly, suggests the report. Those apps supporting iPads saw around 30% of downloads from the devices, with several apps seeing between 35% and 55% of downloads from iPads.

“The proliferation of smartphones and their apps mean that consumers now expect a seamless experience across mobile apps, mobile web, desktop web and in-­store contact with retailers. Accordingly, retailers are developing omni-­channel strategies in which each of these touchpoints is a pillar in a unified and integrated customer experience. Neglecting any one of these pillars, including certain devices, may have a substantial impact on sales in other channels,” comments Bernard.

“It is clear that apps are no longer a ‘nice-­to-­have’ for retailers in the UK, they are instead a vital part of effective sales, customer engagement and brand loyalty strategies. Multi-­channel retailers that can manifest their brand equity across both physical and virtual points of shopper interaction are poised to capture higher share of mind and loyalty -­ a necessity when faced with fast-­growing competitors,” explains Steve Mader, Kantar Retail’s Director of Digital Insights.

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