Smartphone apps boost retail buying

Michael Carroll
10 May 2012

Retailers that don’t launch smartphone apps are in danger of missing out on increased footfall and sales, a senior ABI Research analyst claims.

Mark Beccue says a survey of US consumers found that smartphone apps are driving people into stores and encouraging purchases once there. Some 45.8% of consumers quizzed said retail smartphone apps had prompted them to visit bricks and mortar outlets, while 40.4% said the app encouraged them to buy more once in-store.

The applications are also having a knock-on to more traditional word-of-mouth marketing, with 35.8% stating they are more likely to tell a friend about their shopping experience, and 30.8% stating they would encourage friends to visit a retail outlet.

Beccue argues the “overwhelmingly positive numbers,” show that retailers without smartphone apps in place today “are in danger of being left behind by their competitors.”

However, it isn’t all plain sailing for real-world retailers. ABI’s study also found that only a quarter of smartphone users have actually downloaded shopping apps, and those who have are more likely to also download a rival retailer’s app.

Despite the potential downsides, Beccue notes that retail apps are an “engagement tool,” that offers opportunities to improve customer service and deliver “richer, more relevant product information,” to consumers.

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