Do people even go to stores anymore? Okay, it might sound like a silly question, but with tech giants like Amazon (who just bought Whole Foods) seemingly taking over the world, it seems like this question is definitely warranted. While it might seem like technology is driving people out of stores, there are a lot of ways to use mobile apps to increase traffic to your retail location. A good mobile application and a smart mobile strategy can be the difference between losing customers and staying relevant. Custom mobile application development can be the secret retailers are looking for to make their businesses boom.

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With hundreds of big brands closing retail locations across the country, it might seem like the age of big malls and retail centers are a thing of the past, but we aren’t so convinced by the recent decline in foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers just need to learn how to connect with their customers in new ways. A lot of companies are trying to whether the storm by competing on price, but they should be investing in technology to compete in their respective markets.

Custom Mobile Application Development is the Secret

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Many brands are developing custom mobile applications for their business in order to engage with their customers in new ways. Most consumers aren’t just driving to the mall to walk around for a few hours. They can already do that by looking at inventory online. Stores’ websites do a great job of giving them an idea of what items are available and giving them options to purchase without ever leaving their couch. If your retail location is competing with sitting on the couch and having clothes delivered to your door, how are you going to win?

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You’re only going to win if you’re creative and constantly listening to what your customer wants. A mobile application that is unique to your business is the perfect way to offer value to your customer beyond your website. Tons of brands are connecting with their customers through a mobile application, and, in turn driving tons of traffic to their retail locations.

Retail Brands Thriving Because of Their Mobile App

When I think of companies that have used technology to their advantage, two brands immediately come to mind – Starbucks and Sephora. Both of these companies have harnessed the power of the mobile application to bring customers into their retail locations.

Starbucks

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Starbucks is brilliantly allowing their customers to order through their mobile application and pick up their drinks in store. This move gives Starbucks the opportunity to interact with their customers outside of their stores, but also allows Starbucks customers to gain some benefits as well including skipping a long line. This move is incredibly strategic because Starbucks is using its mobile application to drive footfall to its retail locations. Additionally, Starbucks recently deployed an A.I. assistant in their app called My Starbucks Barista. Smartphone payments already make up 25 percent of their transactions, they’re hoping the new A.I. assistant will only increase remote ordering.

Sephora

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A couple years ago, Sephora opened up an Innovation Lab to really begin working on how they could integrate their mobile app experience and their in-store experience. Sephora is a brand that has been on the cutting edge of technology for years. They use augmented reality in their mobile application to allow users to try on different shades of makeup without ever having to pick up a brush. This type of innovation and use of technology is getting millennial consumers excited about the Sephora brand and is driving huge traffic to their retail locations. It doesn’t hurt though that the Sephora stores are full of technology. It’s essentially a playground for adults. There are tons of stations to try on different products and TV screens that allow you to find the perfect shade for you using Color IQ technology.

These brands are doing an incredible job utilizing mobile technology to drive foot traffic to their brick-and-mortar establishments.

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How to Use Custom Mobile App Development to Drive Traffic

Now that we’ve explored some of the successes of large retail brands, let’s focus in on some strategies that can help you increase footfall to your store by developing your own mobile application.

Using Proximity Marketing

Making your own mobile application for your business can be a great way to reach your customers when they’re near you. Using proximity marketing and beacon technology be sure to reach out to customers that are in your vicinity. Through your mobile application, you can easily detect when users are within a certain radius of your store. You can then send them a message enticing them to come and visit your retail location. This offer could be anything from a discount for shopping or a free item – whatever best fits your business model.

Utilizing Remote Ordering

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Like Starbucks, remote ordering is a great way to give customers an advantage by using your mobile application, but then having them finish their transaction in-store. You can offer incentives to ordering via your mobile application. These benefits could include skipping the line when you get to the store or even a small discount. Expanding your omni-channel fulfillment capabilities is crucial this day in age. Get people in your store by offering them a personalized experience that they couldn’t get online. Having them request clothes or sizes online and having them ready in the store is a great way to increase foot traffic to your retail location. Using both remote ordering and a personalized in-store experience is a great way to create the ultimate customer experience.

Personalizing Content

A custom mobile application is also a great way to personalize content for each of your users. Tracking consumer behavior and using mobile analytics will help you learn about your customer and their buying patterns. It’ll give you valuable insights that you would never have with only an in-store experience. This data can help you build strategies to increase footfall by understanding the items and patterns of your consumer’s buying. Through your mobile application, you can track which pages and items your user is visiting most. Understanding these analytics will help you send personalized messages and offers to your customers to get them into your store.

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What should I do next?

Now that you’ve begun to think about developing your own custom mobile application, there are a lot of questions to ask yourself:

  • How does a mobile application fit into our overall business plan?
  • How much should I spend on custom mobile app development?
  • Who should I hire to develop my mobile application?
  • Does it make sense to develop an app for my business at this time?
  • What should the mobile application look like?

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These are some big questions to ask, but I hope that this article gave you a little insight into how developing your own custom mobile application could drive more foot traffic to your retail locations.