The evolution of the internet and mobile communication has had a profound impact on many other areas as well.  One of the most affected aspects is how consumers shop for… well, anything, really. Retail chains, for example, now have to consider ways to increase traffic on their online stores, but not overdoing it so their […]
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Are retail smartphone apps driving away customers?

The evolution of the internet and mobile communication has had a profound impact on many other areas as well.  One of the most affected aspects is how consumers shop for… well, anything, really.

Retail chains, for example, now have to consider ways to increase traffic on their online stores, but not overdoing it so their brick-and-mortar counterparts suffer.  A method most chains have explored is smartphone apps.  Stores like Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart all have apps that allow customers to browse their product catalog, purchase online, or set up an in-store pickup.

But are these apps doing more harm than good?

Retrevo.com just released the results of a survey they conducted regarding the shopping habits of smartphone owners.  Of the one thousand people surveyed, 57 percent indicated that they had downloaded at least one app belonging to a retail store.

For store owners, this looks great at first glance.  But a closer look shows that 78 percent of these people checked out a product at a retail store only to purchase it from a different online store.

Another disturbing sign for these stores is what these apps are being used for.  Forty two percent of those surveyed used the app to check prices, which is 13 percent more than who use it to read reviews or look up specs.  The fear, as the study states, is that shoppers are using physical stores as a virtual showroom for Amazon.

The real question here is what a company’s goal should be for their app.  Is there something that they could do to draw people into the stores instead of being a quick price checker?

What do you all think?  Do these apps do more harm than good?  Do you use them for anything more than a price check?

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