Do you need an app for your retail store?

I have a beef with apps. Don’t get me wrong, I use several of them on a regular basis and may or may not be slightly addicted to a few. But I don’t think every retailer out there needs one, and an oversaturation of apps won’t lead anywhere good.

A few companies have had success with the technology, and since people are on their phones all the time, it might make sense that an app works to meet them where they are. However, research has shown that most people have already researched their options by the time they get to the store. When they come to the store, they want to interact with the product and talk to a real person who can answer questions.

But a bigger question is: why would a customer download your mobile app to find information that they can simply search on Google? The app just takes up space on their phone, and if they only plan to buy one or two large-ticket items from you, they’ll likely delete the app right after the purchase. Plus, if they get on their phone to compare your prices with someone else’s, they’re likely using websites.

Which leads me to my next point that retailers should be spending more time on their website than on a mobile app. When given the choice between an app and a website, websites will win out every time because they’re often easier to use and they’re the first thing people think of when they want to research products. And if your app isn’t built impeccably, there’s a good chance people won’t like using it anyways.

Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t develop an app for your store if you really think your customers would use and like it. Obviously some research will be required, but some people simply love apps. And a well-built app can help you do things like increase conversion, keep up with competitors and make payment easier. You can even send out coupons or sales deals that can only be used via the app.

There’s no doubt that apps work for some retailers, but personally I think they are a passing trend. In my eyes, apps are unnecessary and a waste of valuable time and money. Some companies build them simply because their competitors have them, while others think they’re the next big thing because “everyone has them.” And when it really comes down to it, are apps really more effective than the dozens of other ways you’re already trying to reach consumers?

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