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Over the past year I’ve downloaded several retail apps on my Android smartphone, mainly for the purpose of reviewing them for the blog.

Apps from John Lewis, Debenhams, Argos and Tesco have all remained on my phone as I have no pressing need to delete them, meaning I’m a sitting target for messages about offers and discounts.

However as far as I can remember, only Debenhams has taken the opportunity to send me any marketing messages, which appears to be a missed opportunity for the other brands.

Adobe recently conducted a survey that asked 1,003 UK consumers about the features they most looked for in smartphone apps – 67% of respondents rated money saving offers as the most important feature.

This was followed by a store locator (60%), the ability to purchase from within the app (58%) and support for couponing (57%) and loyalty schemes (56%).

Sale and discount alerts falls under the broad category of ‘money saving offers’, so retailers are missing a trick if they don’t offer users this basic functionality.

I only downloaded the Debenhams app in January, but I’ve already been sent three different messages. 

Payday offer

I received this message on Saturday 26 January, perfectly timed to coincide with payday.

Most consumers are strapped for cash in January after splurging at Christmas, so trying to catch them on payday is an excellent - if slightly creepy - ploy.

Furthermore, it only gives you one day to take advantage of the discount, which creates a sense of urgency that might help drive a few extra impulse purchases.

Valentine’s Day offer

Seven days before Valentine’s Day, Debenhams alerted users to the fact that there was 15% off lingerie.

Again it’s a well-planned offer as it gives people enough time to order online and have the product delivered in time for the big day.

Seasonal sale

Debenhams launched a seasonal sale online on February 14 before it went live in-store the following day.

Allowing mobile shoppers to browse the sale the night before it starts in shops is a great idea, as even if they don’t buy on their smartphone they might go on to buy in-store.

Also, as it’s only a three-day sale it will take a huge marketing effort to make sure that customers are aware of it, so Debenhams has clearly planed ahead by making sure it is utilising all available assets.                        

In conclusion...

These three examples show how easy it is to target app users with timely offers that might help to drive additional sales.

All of them bring attention to sales and discounts of which I would otherwise have been unaware.

Admittedly, I didn’t actually buy anything but then I’ve never bought anything from Debenhams before.

But had it been a brand that I frequently make purchases from, then the offer of 30% off would almost certainly have made me open the app and browse the sale.

Therefore it’s surprising that the other brands don’t seem to be taking advantage of targeting app users with discounts and offers, as it seems an easy way of drumming up awareness of sales events.

David Moth

Published 18 February, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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