How Mobile Apps Are Helping Retail Businesses


Today, 66% of the world's population uses mobile devices. Such data was provided by We Are Social in their Digital Global Overview report in January 2017. Almost five billion people use smartphones and tablets every day and 75% of them are active users of the Internet. Against this background, the number of mobile applications is also growing. There are almost two million apps in the Apple App Store at the moment, and Google Market has already crossed this number. At the same time, more and more people use mobile devices to make purchases — the conversion of mobile device users into buyers already exceeds that index for personal computer users.

This is due to the fact that mobile devices give mobility to users. In particular, they allow you to make purchases at any time in any place, and convenience and accessibility in many ways predetermine the choices of potential customers

Retail Business and Mobile Apps

Retailing is the act of selling services and different goods using multiple channels of distribution. As you can see, in the modern world mobile devices are one of the most powerful channels. Today, customers use mobile apps because they are easy and handy.

Creating a mobile app for retail businesses, in addition to an existing site is not a problem. A lot of developers offer their services in this field, and targeted articles such as How to Find the Best App Developers for Your Project? from Applikey blog can help to understand the abundance of proposals in this area.

So, how can retail businesses use mobile apps - and what for? What are the benefits they offer?

Mobile Payments

The first question of interest is around profit taking and, as a result, payments. Mobile payments have the same advantages as mobile applications. These services can be used at any time, requiring only a mobile device. Of course, it is often necessary to bind a credit card to the service — but this must be setup only once, in most cases.

According to Juniper Research, mobile retail purchases will exceed $707 billion by 2018, and this industry is constantly developing. The Apple Pay system was launched in 2014, and Android Pay in 2015, giving a huge number of people using these operating systems a lightweight and secure way to make payments. According to Crone Consulting, in 2016 over 12 million people regularly used Apple Pay each month, and Android Pay ha about 10 million monthly users.Thus, the usage of mobile payments in retail business facilitates the interaction between sellers and buyers and makes the purchase process more comfortable. As a result, purchases will be made more often.

There is a plethora of ready-made solutions for every taste from various payment service providers (PSP): PayPal, Due, Stripe, and others. The pros of such services are the acceleration of development and industrial security measures. The business just needs to integrate the chosen system with the application, and away you go. The cons include the presence of an intermediate link between you and the customer, along with transaction fees.

How Mobile Apps Are Helping Retail Businesses 1


Besides payments as an obvious benefit, what else can be a pro for using mobile applications in retail business? Besides payments as an obvious benefit, what else can be a pro for using mobile applications in retail business? rick and mortar or online businesseses may be interested in dividing customers geographically. This allows you to create offers that are targeted to a specific area.. For example, you can advertise the nearest store or point of delivery, and investigate business competition aspects. Such geolocation systems are used by all large retailers such as Wal-Mart, Costco,, and Apple Retail. They always offer to choose a store nearby, focusing on the location of the mobile device. The same strategy is used by fast-food chains like McDonald's, KFC, Subway, and others.

In addition, the same fast-food chains use beacon technology based on Bluetooth system that sends signals and push notifications to the customers’ mobile devices if they are near the current spot and have the application installed.

Integration of the geolocation system in modern mobile apps for retail business is not a difficult process. It requires a special API, which allows you to define a position of the object and then display this object at the appropriate point on the map. iOS and Android offer specialized services to solve these problems: the iOS Location service and the Google Location Services API.

Push Notifications

Providing up-to-date information on new releases, discounts, price changes, special offers and other similar updates can allow for the successful conversion of an application user into a buyer. Modern advertising systems allow you to analyze visited sections of the application and even search requests. You can then use this information to send relevant mailings and notifications. Push notifications are instant and brief, which allows businesses to convey all of the necessary information to potential customers, even on a passing glance.

Of course, the addition and configuration of push-notification requires pinpoint accuracy, because there is a thin line between convenience and obtrusive advertising. Modern mobile devices allow their users to manage notifications from particular applications and even completely disable them.

New Ideas

Advertising remains successful and useful as long as it regularly produces new ideas. Otherwise, people get used to it, and it stops working. In the world of modern technologies, unusual solutions that maximize the use of mobile devices are highly appreciated. For example, in Asia, QR codes are extremely popular. A person can scan them into one movement, and then receive information on their device in a convenient format. Adding such a function to the application of a store working within the Asian market will significantly increase its utility for local consumers.

Another example of such innovations is one of the latest versions of the AliExpress Shopping App. This application allows you to take a photo of anything, and then it looks for similar products. Technologies of image analysis and pattern recognition are actively developing, and their usage allows for a simplified search process.

The use of Augmented Reality (AR) elements is also becoming popular in applications. For example, Yelp helps users find nearby restaurants and other establishments. This kind of technology can be used for a variety of purposes. Adding the function of planning a “virtual route” to the nearest retail outlet to the store application is a huge benefit, as is the opportunity to see how others are combining their purchases with other goods which are now missing (the IKEA VR Experience project allows to do this, though so far only for desktops).

The possibilities of applications are limited only by the imagination of their creators.

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Customer Support and Community

Do not forget that mobile applications allow customers to contact company representatives more easily and quickly (and vice versa — for example, in the case of a call after an order). The applications have settings that allow you to make calls and send messages directly. Built-in chat rooms associated with the traditional user support system like Helpshift or Zendesk also facilitate communication — customers can contact the company at any time.

In addition, the integration of popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter will not only create a familiar atmosphere for users, but will also provide additional advertising for retail businesses.

Some applications have built-in social network platforms with discussions, where users themselves can share their opinions and experiences. Such services can be developed independently using custom mobile app development for retail business, or you can use ready-made solutions from developer teams like Shoutem, KTplay, or their analogs.

Conclusion: the strengths and weaknesses of mobile apps for retail business

Mobile applications have become an integral part of modern life since many people do not part with their mobile devices, and it is convenient for them to make purchases and stay fully connected with these devices.


  • Easy and affordable: most users can download and install the application in one click directly from the built-in store.
  • A large number of ready-made APIs or the opportunity to develop a solution for yourself.
  • With mobile apps, you can do everything: from the dissemination of information, news and special offers to the organization and process of buying and delivery.


  • There is only one disadvantage, but it is extremely important: creating a truly convenient and competitive application is not such a simple task. You will need the efforts of various specialists.

That is why many retailers prefer to turn to companies that can develop a mobile app for retail businesses. When making a choice, remember: Applikey has five years of experience in this field, providing services for iOS and Android mobile app development (including retail mobile app development, specifically), design, project management and quality assurance.

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