How Apps Revolutionize Shopping, Both Online & In-Store [NEW EBOOK]

Read Time: 5 - 10 min


Retail has been revolutionized thanks to mobile devices – once used to compare prices at various stores, today mobile can do much more.

Whether you’re shopping for fashion or food, your mobile device serves as a powerful ally. Homebodies can have all their essentials shipped to their doorstep without leaving bed, while even those who prefer to shop in-store may find themselves snagging deals and scanning codes with their mobile device.

Today, we’re covering how mobile is revolutionizing retail, both in-store and online!

In a new consumer survey we conducted, 48% of smartphone users said a "personalized" push notification influenced an in-store purchase and 36% said a location-based push notification did.

eCommerce in the Post-App Economy: Shopping Via App

Carting armloads of clothing into a cramped dressing room is so passé. Today, many people choose to shop online rather than deal with the hassle of visiting physical retail stores.

These online shoppers can be attracted not just through traditional websites, but through retail apps as well. Nearly 50% of U.S. retail traffic comes from mobile devices, showing that users are eager to use their smartphones to shop.

Apps have a unique advantage when it comes to winning over shoppers, as apps can use user data to better understand customers and deliver highly relevant offers based on past purchases. In fact, 78% of consumers report that they’d be more likely to purchase from a retailer if they provide offers targeting their interests, wants, or needs.

Create winning eCommerce marketing campaigns to keep your users coming back to your app for more! Couple incentivizing offers with top-notch push messages and you can build positive relationships with customers while encouraging users to pursue a purchase.

Using Apps to Increase Physical Footfall

Even for those who prefer to visit physical retail stores in person, mobile has forever altered the shopping landscape.


Many stores are now beginning to incorporate app location-based tech to increase footfall, taking advantage of beacons and geo-tagging technology to send targeted offers to users as they enter certain spaces (such as malls).

Beacons and geo-tagging can be used to create a digital perimeter around an established retail space. Once users enter that set perimeter, stores might send a compelling push message (such as a limited-time discount for in-store purchases) to encourage shoppers to stop by in person.

Imagine walking through the mall after grabbing a few dresses at Banana Republic and getting an alert on your phone for a half off smoothie from the food court! Since you’re already in the area, it’s an offer that’s hard to resist. Location-based campaigns like these are capitalizing on users while they’re already in the buying mood.

Using Tech to Build Up the Brick and Mortar Experience

In addition to using apps to drive users in the door, apps are also now being used to optimize the brick and mortar experience while people shop.

From virtual fitting rooms to in-store, department-based promotions, eCommerce is making big strides in using technology to better the brick and mortar experience for shoppers.



Target has begun using beacon technology to help guide shoppers
around Target stores. Beacons transmit radio-like signals via Bluetooth. When the beacon detects that you are in a certain area of the store, you’ll get real-time offers relevant to where you’re standing.

For example, let’s say that you’re browsing through some summer swimsuits in the women’s apparel department. Your phone might provide in-app inspiration by showing in-stock bikinis that are trending on Pinterest.

As you mosey on over to the groceries section, your phone might alert you to a discount on organic milk or Nutella (because when do you not want Nutella?)

Target plans on also rolling out more beacon-based features, such as automatically re-sorting a user’s shopping list as they move throughout the store. Target will also be launching a service to let you request help and have a Target employee meet you right where you’re standing.

When beacon tech is combined with user-satisfaction, everyone wins! 


Nordstrom is another large retail giant making huge headway into using technology and mobile apps to create a superior brick and mortar experience. Nordstrom customers can use interactive touch screens in their fitting rooms, with some stores even letting customers see Instagram images and reviews of products that they’re interested in on large screens throughout the store.

Nordstrom also uses sensors and Wi-Fi to track how users move about their store, using that data to optimize store layout, delivering desirable clothing displays at every turn.


IKEA is also learning how to blend digital and physical spaces through the use of augmented reality. Mobile users can scan an IKEA catalog with their smartphone and then see virtually, on their screen, what the furniture would like placed within their home.

No one likes to buy a couch for their living room only to find that it is far too large (or small) for the space. IKEA’s augmented reality tech makes those unfortunate errors a thing of the past.


Neiman Marcus is yet another retail rock star using sensors to track customers as they move throughout stores while providing relevant alerts.

As customers walk around, their app notifies them about store events and promotions. Customers can also scan in-store QR codes for more product info, melding mobile and mortar in a unique way.

Abandoning the Traditional In-Store Experience

In addition to used tech and apps to compliment a customer’s in-store experience, some retailers are completely disrupting the traditional brick-and-mortar model, using physical spaces to inspire customers and develop brand relationships, rather than sell products.


Kate Spade conducted a unique ecommerce campaign in which they put up temporary 24-hour pop-stores throughout New York City. Rather than turning these locations into traditional brick-and-mortar styled stores, these pop-up stores only consisted of large display windows showcasing new seasonal outfits.Kate-Space-Saturday-Pop-up-Shop-NYC-Untapped-Cities.jpg

Those passing couldn’t enter the store to make a purchase – instead, they used the nearby touchscreen to place orders, with a quick and easy checkout process that involved no payment and delivery within one hour (users paid for purchases upon delivery)!

This positive experience helps reinforce the usability of the Kate Spade app for new users, likely encouraging future purchases and launching great brand relationships.


Bonobos has implemented a similar non-traditional model for their physical stores, with brick-and-mortar locations used only as showrooms.

Customers visit Bonobos stores to try on various outfits and receive fashion advice. Purchases can be made at the stores, but customers don’t walk away with their items. Instead, any purchases made at the stores are shipped to the user at home. This allows Bonobos to focus on customer experience and fashion expertise, creating unique relationships with users and setting them apart from the pack.

Looking to learn the mobile marketing campaigns every retailer needs to boost engagement? We just launched a new eBook that will give you a play-by-play. Check it out now: 

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