10 Remarkable Shopping Apps for Your Inspiration

The popularity of shopping apps is growing at an unprecedented rate. Usage increased 174% in 2014, more than any other category of app. Apple recently responded by debuting a ‘shopping’ category in the app store, making it easier for consumers to discover all the best shopping apps in one place.

Apps take advantage of all the capabilities of a mobile device, providing the opportunity to create a richer user experience than on mobile web:

  • Mobile payments enable a quick and easy checkout process
  • GPS creates the opportunity to offer context-related content
  • Cameras allow product barcode scanning

This superior experience results in 3x the conversion rate on apps compared to mobile browsers. However, apps are about more than just converting – top shopping apps strive to create a better overall shopping experience across channels, no matter where the conversion ultimately occurs.

Whether you’re looking for ways to improve your existing app, or hoping to invest in a brand new app (in which case you should check out building a business case for a shopping app) – we hope your can draw on these 10 remarkable shopping apps for inspiration.

1. Starbucks – Skipping the Line

The Starbucks app takes the typical cafe experience to the next level. With Mobile Order, coffee-lovers can order their beverage and pay through the app, allowing them to pick up their drink without waiting in line. This value-added functionality fosters a loyal community of Starbucks lovers –  mobile transactions account for 20% of all in-store sales and a 4% increase in foot traffic.

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2. Wal-mart – Leveraging Big Savings

The most powerful feature of Wal-mart’s app is the Savings Catcher which promises a lowest price guarantee in line with the brand’s value proposition. Customers simply use their mobile device to take a picture of the UPC or QR code on their receipt and if a lower advertised price exists, they will be automatically reimbursed for the difference. This feature is brilliant for two reasons – it regularly drives users back to the app (to add new receipts and check their balance) and it provides Wal-mart with a wealth shopper data tied to a specific account.

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3. Ikea – Helping In-Store Customers

Ikea redesigned its app as an in-store shopping companion for customers. It helps create a simple, frictionless in-store shopping experience by allowing customers to make lists, locate products and check them off as they shop. Being that Ikea’s products are housed in a large warehouse, most are familiar with the overwhelming feeling of trying to locate a coffee table amongst the rows and rows of boxes. The app’s scanning functionality allows shoppers to take a picture of a barcode for additional product information and the exact pick-up location in the warehouse – now that’s a time saver!

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4. Sephora – Providing Context with Beacons

There has been a lot of talk around beacons in the retail industry, but few have really experimented with the technology, the Sephora to Go app is doing just that. During a trial run with beacons in San Francisco stores, 80% of customers opted in to receive the benefits associated with beacons. When a shopper walks in the store, their app will populate with special promotions, birthday month benefits and in-store services for that specific location.

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5. Fab – Driving App Conversions

Fab’s app engages AND converts customers. It offers a simple user interface that guides users through the shopping experience, creating a clutter-free journey that drives shoppers to convert. 50% of the company’s total weekend sales come from mobile. The brand doesn’t forget about engagement either, inviting customers to interact with other users and share with their own social networks through the app. This community creates a space where customers can look for ideas and inspiration – drawing them back into the app on a regular basis.

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6. Blue Nile – Trying On Products

Buying an engagement ring is a special occasion, and one that requires a lot of thought and research. Blue Nile facilitates this process and removes any mystery by educating and empowering customers to make the best purchase decision – one that will last a lifetime. This big decision is one that you don’t want to rush – the app allows you to try on thousands of rings throughout your day, whether it be at work, at home, or on the go. Simply use the camera on your mobile device to snap a picture of your hand and try away.

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7. Target – Mapping Out the Journey

Trying to navigate a busy department store can be stressful, so Target offers in-app maps that help users locate products within the store. Consumers who view an in-app map at home are 50% more likely to head to the store versus regular users. By using the app to connect online and offline channels, Target is able to drive more consumers to the store and increase conversions.

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8. Beyond The Rack – Optimizing PDPs

Customers can’t touch or feel products when shopping online, which can create some hesitancies in the purchase decision. Good Product Display Pages (PDPs) can help combat this uncertainty by providing a strong visual representation of the product and sufficient information for the customer to convert. The BTR app follows best practices for mobile optimization on their PDPs, making it easy for shoppers to browse products. The large text, mobile-optimized product photos, and right-sized buttons ensure that users can effortlessly review products and add them to their bag.

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9. REI – Adding Real Value

REI extends their digital presence with two great apps for shoppers. The REI shopping app allows customers to buy their favorite outdoor equipment, check store availability, and scan products in-store to pull up more product information. But REI understands that the value of apps goes beyond conversions – their customers are outdoor enthusiasts, so they created the REI snow report app to bring them added value. The app allows users to monitor snow conditions at their favorite resorts, it even sends push notifications when there is new snow.

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10. ZARA – Removing Barriers

The Zara app offers users an easy and frictionless shopping experience. It doesn’t require a user to create an account before buying a product, removing a barrier to purchase that many retailers often enforce. It’s simple to navigate and employs a logical search function. Once shoppers find something they like, they can use the zoom function to get a closer look.

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Apps provide the opportunity to create the ultimate shopping experience for your most loyal customers. We hope the shopping apps from these leading retail innovators will inspire your brand to take advantage of the possibilities.

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