I’ve been thinking a lot about mobile apps in retail recently. I’ve been thinking about which retailers need an app and whether in fact we’re seeing a bit of a backlash against the app, fuelled by mobile optimised and responsive websites.

Retail apps still have their place in a mobile optimised world, but they’re increasingly characterised as devices for customer retention. Loyalty programmes and coupons keep regular customers feeling loved.

Of course, there are still some successful shopping apps, too, often for retailers big or pervasive enough to demand smartphone real estate (supermarkets, Amazon and the like).

So, here you go, here are 10 apps that I think have made a difference for customers in retail.

Agree? Disagree? Tell me in the comments.

CVS Caremark and Walgreens

A recent Forbes article on drug stores highlighted CVS Caremark and Walgreen as the highest regarded retail mobile apps, going by US app store reviews.

Both apps allow users to get refills and make orders to collect, as well as look at deals in store. These quick added functionalities instantly show their value and are popular with customers.

The refill feature in particular is a brilliant example of how regular customers, or customers that just might prove regular, can have their experience in store speeded up and feel more confident about shopping. The reminders, scanner and shopping lists are helpful features in a market where products can be difficult to keep track of.

    

Mothercare

Mothercare is in the perfect market to combine functionalities in an app, including educational content designed for mother and baby as well as the more prosaic ability to shop.

At this time of their lives, mothers and fathers have lots to remember, so apps are useful here again for listing and curation purposes.

7-Eleven

The 7-Eleven app does a good line in sending coupons to your app, to encourage visiting a store and redeeming them. There’s also information on current deals in store as well as a store locator.

The main advantage of this app is the coupons, but with a profusion of 7-Elevens (over 50,000) this is a compelling enough feature for many people to get on board.

ASDA

This app is consistently reviewed well in the app store and is marked by its range of functionality and ease of use.

The app includes a barcode scanner and store finder. The shopping facility also allows for click and collect, which often suits customers on the move better than a delivery slot.

Nordstrom

Nordstrom pops up in many lists of app favourites because like ASDA’s app it does the basics efficiently.

The product range can be browsed by department or brand. As you can see from the screenshot, the main functions are clearly listed at the bottom of the home page. There’s an additional ‘style’ section featuring editorial and social content

How Uniqlo is personalising the shopping experience with Google powered app

Walmart

Another example from a big supermarket, the biggest in fact. Again the functionality and UX is as the consumer would expect and the app serves offers to its homepage. As one app store reviewer puts it, “Easier then (sic) using my computer!!!”

Starbucks

The oft quoted example. The king of taking brand identity into an app and improving customer experience. The Starbucks stores push the app and don’t think of it as a gimmick adopting by the occasional customer. Starbucks regulars get their loyalty points and can pay without hassle.

Amazon

The even-more oft quoted example. Amazon is an undoubted mobile success.

Customer information is uniform across web and app, with basket contents, delivery info etc all consistent.

As per the Amazon desktop site, the app is super user friendly and has been succeeding since its inception in

     

Why marketers should consider in-app advertising (stats)