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The qualities of a successful retail mobile app


Mobile traffic has gone up across all sectors, catching up with desktop traffic and particularly for retailers mobile sales showed a bigger part of their e-commerce sales according to Criteo’s commerce report (Q4 2017).

Although mobile apps have proven a worthwhile investment for some retailers, several retailers have failed to get users to download the app, let alone make any sales from them, and many retailers have not only abandoned their apps, some have actually pulled them off the app stores entirely. (44% of luxury retail brands have removed their apps from the app store since 2015).

In the early days of mobile apps, the challenge was to simply build a mobile app and you would have customers yearning to download it, and actively use it.

Fast forward to 2019, and the bar for mobile apps has been set so high. In retail alone, over 80% of new app users had stopped using the application within the first three months of downloading it. (according to research by Localytics)

In this article, we shall go through advanced qualities and characteristics of a great retail mobile app. (insights beyond speed, a great user experience, bug-free)

We are considering a successful retail app to be an app that users download and frequently use to order goods and services.

We shall use some known retailers mobile apps pointing out some key features that make some of them successful.

  1. Discoverability

There’s over 2.1 million mobile apps on Google play store and 2 million on the Apple store, yet users only use about 9 per day.

The biggest key to a successful retail mobile app, is to make it as discoverable as possible, no one will use it if they don’t see and download it in the first place.

  • App Store Optimisation

Take advantage of app-store optimisation, this is where you optimise your application listing so that it can be found for your brand name, as well as around keywords for the products that you sell.

Make sure you give it great descriptive screenshots of the app,  great categorization and a detailed description that is continually updated with release notes.

In the above examples, you can see how Autotrader, Farfetch and JD Sports have optimised their listings for the keywords of the products that they are currently selling.

Farfetch’s description includes keywords around luxury and designer brands.

The listing includes their keywords and is well categorised.

You can learn more about app-store optimisation here.

  • Advertise the mobile app in the app-store and beyond.

You can also pay for your presence in the app store, both when potential users are looking for the app; or when they are looking for your competitors apps.

In the example below, Sports Direct pays to advertise their application when users are looking for the adidas app.

sports direct
  • Incentivise mobile app downloads in your promotions

Give rewards and discounts to customers that download and use your mobile application.

Although this could be deemed as an expensive acquisition, mobile applications are a direct marketing channel that you would own and control.

Once consumers have downloaded your mobile application, you could then communicate with them directly through push notifications, sending them new and personalised offers, surveys etc.

Quick fact: Push notification open rates range between 47-80%. That’s compared to email open rates of 10% to 25%.

  1. Personalised User Experience

Personalisation is a term thrown around a lot when it comes to user experience, but it is simply tailoring the experience based on what you already know about a consumer to deliver content that is relevant to them

The more relevant the content is to their needs, the more they will engage, and thus higher conversion rates.

Successful retail mobile applications collect as much information from the user as possible and use this information to tailor recommendations and rewards that the user is most likely to engage this.


Data points to collect can include:

  • Previous purchase history
  • Previous products viewed
  • Previous product searched
  • Customer information (name, gender, age, location)

Collect as much relevant data as possible in order to tailor the experience to each individual customer and they will be engage with your application as much as possible.

Starbucks’ app uses customers past buying behaviour (for example, the type of coffee they usually drink, or the time of the day they pop into their stores) to craft special offers, discounts, or coupons.

Needless to say, Amazon recommends products based on your past buying patterns which automatically increases their conversions.

I had just bought a small massaging machine, it recommended a massage mat which I’m thinking of buying too 🙂

Real-time mobile app personalisation is really the next step to having a great user experience and increased loyalty when it comes to mobile, if you let the app do most of the work rather than the user, then they will keep coming back.

The other not so major qualities of a successful retail mobile app are:

  • Should be easily adaptable to new mobile device features
  • Should have a consistent design across all channels
  • Should have very visible and clear call to actions e.g prominent “buy now” buttons.
  • It should have one shopping basket across all platforms.
  • It should have a predictive search to aide users in finding products
  • Should have a great presence in the app stores.

There you go!

There’s so many qualities that go into a successful mobile app for your retail store or ecommerce website. Luckily Techtiq Solutions is a competent mobile app development agency with a great understanding of ecommerce solutions.

Contact us today to set up a free consultation.

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Techtiq is a web development company in London. We develop web and mobile applications for companies in London and across the UK


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