Many retail stores are releasing barcode scanning mobile apps for Android and iPhone, but what kind of results are they getting?
Is the effort worth the return? This kind of proprietary information is often kept close to the chest, but one UK retailer has released surprising results. In October of 2010, UK retailer, Debenhams, launched an iPhone app with the intention of enriching the in-store experience for the on-the-move shopper. The free Debenhams iPhone app has achieved 360,000 downloads, sales of nearly 1 million pounds Sterling (within five months of launch) and website sales increasing 82.4%—and this is only on iPhone. In reaction to these fantastic results, Debenhams has also released a new app for Android and Nokia phones, making the retailer the first on the high street to offer apps for the three key smartphones.
The Android app features a 'Barcode Scanner', the first by a high street retailer. This acts as a virtual shopping assistant, using the phone's camera to snap product barcodes, automatically checking pricing and reviews. The barcode scanner has proved a popular feature on the iPhone app, with customers using it over 90,000 times in the first five months.
Customers can also use the scanner to access exclusive products and offers by looking out for specially generated visual QR codes in advertising and Debenhams' store windows.
Harriet Williams, head of Digital Development for Debenhams said, "Our iPhone app has already seen 2.4 million shopping sessions with 110,000 customers using the app more than five times.
"Launching on the Android and Nokia platforms opens Debenhams mobile shopping to millions more customers, bridging the gap between the high street and Debenhams.com.
"Acting as a pocket personal shopper, downloading the Debenhams mobile apps means that getting lost, not being able to find your size and having to carry heavy bags home are pitfalls of shopping trips past."
The apps save customers from scrolling endlessly through reams of products online, empowering customers to narrow down the selection of items displayed by type, brand, color, price and size. Budget-minded shoppers can choose to browse sale items only.
The 'Wish List' feature has been designed to allow users create their shopping list and email their list to friends and family as gift ideas for birthdays and Christmas. Wish lists can either be created by scanning products in store or by selecting them in the app.
'Store Finder' allows customers to easily locate their nearest Debenhams store, view store contact details, opening hours, facilities and even a helpful floor guide.
Keith Varty, head of Apps and Brand Partnerships, Nokia UK, said, "We're delighted to welcome Debenhams to the Ovi Store, with a great app that allows Nokia users to explore and purchase goods on the go, from one of the nation's leading retailers."
Williams added, "The launch of the Android and Nokia apps also brings Debenhams to an expanded international audience. With shopping and delivery on the iPhone app proving popular as far away as the USA, Australia and New Zealand, time-poor consumers can now enjoy Debenhams directly from their mobile wherever and whenever they like."
Debenhams success proves that the development of a good shopping app for the retail environment can be one of the best investments a company can make in its future. Consumer behaviors are changing because technology is changing. The smartphone has wiggled its way into our daily behaviors; affecting the way we do almost everything—including shop.
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