It’s not just about Black Friday anymore. This holiday shopping season, 71% of consumers (and 79% of millennials) plan to purchase gifts online, and much of that shopping will happen through mobile apps. In fact, over the past 12 months, US mobile users have been spending 60% more time in retail apps in general, and that’ll only ramp up as we get closer to Christmas.

With the rush coming, is your company’s retail app ready to be your customer’s first (and possibly last) stop in their shopping journey? It better be! And to help you out, here are 4 ways to get your retail app supercharged for the holiday shopping season.

According to a report by AppAnnie, getting featured by either Google or Apple’s app store can increase downloads by up to 500%. Check out what they recently saw with Walgreens:


When Walgreens’ app added Android Pay as a feature, Google decided to feature it on Google Play which led to a spike in downloads. It’s definitely a little “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” but if you want the edge this shopping season, whatever you can do to get featured will directly translate to more traffic and more sales through your app. Embracing a Google or Apple-specific app feature like Walgreens did is a smart ploy. Other things you can do to increase your odds of being featured:

  • Keep your app reliable and up-to-date.
  • Garner more ratings by asking your current user base.
  • Write a good app description with great screen shots and comprehensive information.
  • Create buzz outside of the app store (even paid buzz).

2. Provide great virtual customer service.

One big reason why retail apps fail is because the bad ones don’t offer a personalized experience. The offers aren’t targeted, they don’t take advantage of location targeting, and the point we want to touch on here: they don’t engage with customers when they need help. Remember, retail app engagement is down in 2016 to just 2.72 minutes during a session. Frustrated users won’t hesitate to close out your app if they don’t get what they need.

So before the holiday rush, make sure you are providing great customer service in your app. Here’s how:

  • Barring anything else, make your User Interface (UI) dead simple to navigate.
  • Make your app load as fast as possible. (or make it seem like it is)
  • Provide an easy to use FAQ section just for mobile transactions.
  • If possible, provide instant chat support or even provide a support number.

The better service you can provide, the longer your customers will use your app. Remember, having extra customer service reps on standby to chat may be cost-effective if it leads to happier customers who spend more money.

3. Enhance the in-store experience.

If you have an actual physical brick and mortar store, it’s important your app pulls double duty: a) be a great online shopping portal, but also b) act as your customer’s personal virtual assistant in the real world.


As we’ve pointed out in previous posts, your retail app is a great source for behavioral analytics. Knowing what the user has looked at online, or even put into his/her virtual shopping cart (without clicking “buy”), can help you target deals and promotions to push to their app as soon as they’re nearby your storefront. After all, you should already have a robust loyalty program in place. But also consider these ideas:

  • A zoomable layout of your store for easy physical navigation.
  • Impulse purchase ideas, categorical gift ideas (ie, spouse, children, movie-lover), or “expiring soon” deals.
  • In stock/out of stock notifications.
  • Mobile payment options.
  • Additional loyalty points for “checking in”.

Give your customers a reason to walk around with your app launched on their smartphones. It’ll lead to big sales and happy customers.

4. Get social with user generated content & reviews.

Bazaarvoice research showed that mobile shoppers who view user-generated content have a 133% higher conversion rate. People love to see what others experience before purchasing, so (as long as you have great reviews) make it easy for your users to see customer reviews and pictures. Then after an online purchase, make it easy for your customers to share their purchase online. Take a cue from Amazon:Better yet, if purchased on sale, include how much money they saved in the shared social post. It’ll incentivize their social network to check out similar deals. By providing every avenue for content to be shared by loyal users, your retail app can work to make your business go viral during the holiday shopping season.

Is your retail app ready for the shopping season?