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Upping your app game

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In recent weeks we have seen a boom in the use of shopping apps across the board, driven by increased familiarity and the fact that search of the device and the web can now more easily yield up the right app at the right time.

And this is all good news for retailers: it has gone a long way to driving online sales on mobile past the 50% mark for the first time. It is also seeing more shoppers engaging with brands via mobile and, despite the rise in ad blockers on smartphones, a rise in the influence to purchase from mobile ads.

Much of this, as you might expect, is driven by millennials – it is the kids after all who drive a lot of the engagement side of things: they don’t really care about ads intruding into their experience so long as they are relevant and offer something creative. But these millennials also are making the battle for eyeballs and wallets ever more joined.

What is interesting about the sudden rise in app use and the tipping over into mobile being the lead point for online retailing is that all of sudden it gets much more competitive.

Until now it wasn’t even deemed essential to have an app. InternetRetailing’s own UK Top500 research for 2016 shows that just 23% of Top 500 retailers in the UK have a transactional app – with only a fifth having an app at all.

Now consumers expect apps and expect a great experience from them, often above and beyond just researching and buying. The shopper wants the app to deliver great experience, be device, location and, ideally, context, optimized, searchable, personalized and transactional: these are now the basics. The very basics. To make one retailer app stand out above another will require a charge towards innovative features that make the app more desirable.

And it is going to be youth brands that lead this charge. It is already happening with the likes of Missguided announcing that next week’s launch of its transactional app will see it roll out something that it claims makes it ‘Tinder style”, where shopper swipe to like or dislike things.

It’s a gimmick for sure, but behind the gimmickry and headline grabbing lies an important fact: Missguided gets that its customers want more than just an app to buy things on.

As Oyvind Henriksen, CEO and Co-Founder of Poq, puts it: “The next generation of customers uses apps for everything. Great apps are often either very engaging – like Instagram and Pinterest – or they are super convenient – like Uber and Citymapper. Missguided has built a retail app on our platform that combines both of these attributes: it is extremely convenient and deeply engaging. This is the perfect example of what a cutting-edge retail app can offer: Customers are always logged in to an addictive and personalised shopping experience, and can check out using just their fingerprint.”

This is not some far off future: this is the here and now. Within a matter of months this sort of extra functionality that drives engagement will start to become the norm. The time has come to not only get your mobile and apps strategy in place, but to up your app game. Start thinking about what else you can bring to your app: novelties like “Tinder style” swiping are interesting, but what else can you improve and streamline? Use all the tools that the phone has a create!

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