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The App revolution

The latest report from app developer Apadmi highlights what consumers want when it comes to apps that improve the retail experience. Chief executive Nick Black talks about its findings and their implications for the retail industry

Smartphones are increasingly used by consumers as a key part of the retail experience. But the latest retail report from app developer Apadmi has highlighted that only four out of 10 consumers were happy with current retail app offerings.

Apadmi has developed apps for Argos, BT, Carphone Warehouse and EE. Its latest retail report talks about incorporating artificial intelligence and digital assistants, introducing augmented and virtual reality platforms, and evaluates what retailers should be considering when developing apps in the future. It also includes the results of a survey that details the concerns consumers have about retail apps, particularly with regard to data use and storage.

Apadmi chief executive Nick Black (pictured) said in his introduction to the report: “Retail as an industry has undergone immense change in recent years, as the use of technology becomes more prominent. At the end of 2016, online retail sales were expected to have reached £60 billion in the UK alone, a 14.9 per cent year-on-year increase, according to the Centre for Retail Research.

“But while the shift to online shopping has been more of an evolution, the emergence of mobile shopping, and retail apps in particular, has turned the change into a revolution.

“It is no longer enough for an online retailer to have a good website that can be accessed from a laptop. It is essential that any online shopping platform is adapted to meet the needs of shoppers on the go, and any website must be mobile-friendly or risk being punished by Google’s ranking system.

“In the UK, almost three out of 10 consumers now spend online using mobile apps, one of the highest rates in Europe, while a Centre for Retail Research study suggested that 70 to 80 per cent of website browsing occurs using a mobile device.

“Amazon has taken the use of shopping apps to the next level with the idea of Amazon Go, a physical shop that doesn’t require queuing to pay for items and instead gives consumers a ‘just walk out’ shopping experience by using an app to pay for items.”

Mr Black concluded: “With such a large proportion of consumers demanding platforms that allow them to browse and shop anytime, anywhere, it is vital retailers take note of this, and develop the kind of experience their customers now expect.

KEY FINDINGS

  • Online via desktop is the preferred method for the majority of age groups. Three-quarters of 18 to 24-year-olds included in our retail report said they would shop on a desktop before any other medium, with that figure dropping to 50 per cent for 65 and over.
  • One-in-10 consumers surveyed said they could have as many as 10 separate retail apps on their smartphone.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) was one of the key features that users would like to see included in future retail apps. More than a third of respondents in our retail report said that they’d use AR to preview items before they buy them, whether that’s in-store or at home.
  • Free wi-fi. Nearly half of respondents (46 per cent) wanted stores to offer free wi-fi to allow apps to automatically sync with latest offers and to provide a seamless transition from desktop, to app, to in-store.
  • Pay via app, pick up in-store. The idea of being able to pay for items through an app appealed to over a quarter of those surveyed in our report. This also cuts down on in-store queues and allows employees to focus on improving customer service.
  • Data protection. A huge proportion of those we surveyed admitted that data security was a concern.
  • Social media. Despite retailers often taking full advantage of social media, there was not a huge demand in our retail report for retail apps to be fully integrated with social media. In fact, only five per cent of consumers said this was important to them.
  • A good app is a reflection of your brand. Nearly two-thirds of our survey respondents (61 per cent) claimed that they would delete an app if they came across a bug and that any impaired functionality would damage their perception of the retailer.

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