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Sep 03, 2013

Strategies for Creating Effective Enterprise Apps in Retail

In a previous post, we gave an overview of some of the things that retailers can do with enterprise apps to encourage sales from both the consumer’s and the employee’s perspective. Today, we want to discuss strategies for designing these apps, specifically for an in-store retail environment. As a retailer, the strategy you follow hinges on whether you are more interested in gaining sales or increasing brand loyalty with your enterprise mobile app. “Enrichment” strategies focus on gaining new customers and driving them to make a transaction, which can be easily measured by purchase dollars or frequency. In contrast, an “engagement” strategy is more concerned with enabling customers to increase their involvement with your brand. Which one of these strategies you follow will most certainly affect the design of your enterprise apps. For example, if your goal is to drive transactions, you may want to create an app designed to upsell matching items, such as J. Crew’s in-store sales assistant, or to complete the checkout process without involving the cash register similar to Gucci’s mobile app. In contrast, if your goal is to have customers become more excited about the brand, you may want to create an app that is low on functionality but high on design and visual appeal, for example a “how to” style manual installed in a store kiosk. In addition, there is a lot of potential for retail enterprise apps to have a consumer-facing counterpart, and it only makes sense: according to a study done by research firm Latitude, 60% of people have used a mobile device while shopping in a store. What’s more, customers are interested in getting information while shopping: the same Latitude study found that 79% of shoppers are interested in the possibility of having digital content such as product recommendations, demo videos and virtual “try on” simulations delivered to their mobile phones while shopping in a store. If your brand is able to easily deliver this information, then you are the one controlling the conversation with your customer, not a comparison website or worse, your competitor. One example of a company that does this well is Signature, who offers an enterprise app with both an employee and a consumer interface where customers of high-end retailers can interact directly with their personal sales associate: Neiman Marcus trialed the app last year. Of course, the brand’s challenge in deploying enterprise apps to brick and mortar retailers is how to secure and manage these apps in a large number of different physical locations, especially with no IT experts on-site to manage problems. With mobile application management software, retailers can easily distribute the apps to their in-store kiosks or tablets, secure sensitive data, and manage changes via over-the-air updates. If you are a retailer and you haven’t thought about going mobile, you should. After all, your customers will be expecting it.


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