According to mobile analytics firm Flurry, mobile app usage continued to grow in 2015 with 58% growth in overall app usage while personalization lead the way with a growth of 322%. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that when it comes to consumer touch points, smartphones continue to have a meaningful impact on how consumers shop. In fact, according to a recent report by comScore, mobile retail traffic saw a significant growth rate of around 40%-80% year-over-year in the last holiday season.

As retailers plan their mobile roadmap for 2016 it helps to take inspiration from the learnings that some of the most innovative retail mobile players of 2015 have to offer. In this blog we will take a look at top 5 innovative mobile retail apps that are pushing traditional retail businesses to rethink customer shopping experience like never before.

1. Knomi

Knomi app

Maintaining a premium brand persona is critical to every high-end fashion brand out there. This requires such boutiques to undertake niche and personalised marketing initiatives such as dinners and fancy events, as opposed to initiatives that are mass market oriented. Customer acquisition can prove to be quite expensive for most high-end fashion brands. This is where Knomi, a beacon enabled fashion discovery app, takes an interesting approach.

This iOS app helps high-end fashion boutiques to drive store footfalls without denuding the carefully curated brand value upon which they depend. Once a fashion boutique installs a BLE beacon in their store, app users who happen to be in the vicinity of the store receive a push notification suggesting that they go check out a certain item.

These notifications are highly personalised to the user and sent in the context of the specific items that the user has liked enough to save to his/her collection — or which the fashionistas’ he/she is following in the app have curated or liked.

Adding on to that, Knomi also provides users with the convenience of making purchases on the app itself. However, driving physical store footfalls is still the most important proposition of the app.

2. Bed Bath and Beyond

Having noted a massive shift in how consumers shop with Bed Bath and Beyond (mobile accounts for 20% of the retailer’s overall sales), the brand focused all their efforts on catering to consumers on mobile devices in year 2015. As an effort in this direction, the brand integrated an augmented reality feature to its mobile app. It allowed shoppers to have a 360-degree view of the products they are registering for, while also allowing them to browse additional styles or colors that were not shown in the catalog.

One of the other mobile app features that the brand launched last year include, allowing shoppers to add any item in the retailer’s wedding registry catalog to their own registry by holding a phone over the page and tapping on the interactive hotspot that appears over each item. As a result the brand saw mobile monthly unique visitors grow from roughly 3.3 million to 5.7 million in 2015, according to Internet Retailer’s

3. Sephora

Sephora app

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Today, consumers’ decision to buy and interact with a brand is often based on the ability of the brand to reward them for the time and money spent. Keeping this in mind, leading beauty brand, Sephora, recently leveraged beacons to send out birthday alerts to customers via the Sephora To Go app, reminding them to pick up a special package, which is complimentary with a purchase during their birthday month.

The app also sent out updates to inform consumers when new training sessions were to occur in-store. And lastly, it also sent out notifications on other perks available in-store. For example, if a consumer is standing near the Beauty Studio in-store, she will receive a message asking if she is interested in a mini-makeover service. The iBeacon trial run by Sephora at a few San Francisco stores was very successful with more than 80% of Sephora shoppers opting in.

4. Walgreens

Year 2015 saw Walgreens, one of the world’s largest drugstore chains, partner with WebMD to launch Your Digital Health Advisor, a personal wellness smartphone app in their effort to to help shoppers set health goals and track their progress. The app allowed shoppers to connect wearable devices such as a Fitbit to their Walgreens account, thus helping them earn rewards in Walgreens’ Balance Rewards loyalty program by exercising. For example, shoppers could earn $1 for every 1,000 points earned and thus save money on products in the future.

5. Spring

Spring app

Spring, also known as the Instagram for shopping, directly integrates with fashion brands and allows users to follow their favourite brands check out their latest posts. Each post has an item of clothing in it, complete with scrollable pictures, the price, and a description. Users can then purchase the item by clicking on a size and swiping to buy.

While the app requires users to type in their credit card information during the first transaction, going ahead it saves this information, allowing users to truly shop on mobile without having to worry about a tedious check-out process from a small screen. Meanwhile on the brand side, the app grants vendors total control over their inventory and the frequency with which they post.

Are there any other innovative retail apps that we missed out on? Let us know in the comments below.