Retail Week Tech event – here’s what you missed

Our CEO Nick Black recently joined a formidable group of panellists and speakers at Tech – an event created by Retail Week and dedicated to technology in the retail sector.

The event explored how emerging technologies – from AI to VR and everything in between – will transform retail commerce.

Nick took part in a panel debate entitled ‘The Life Or Death of Apps In The Future Of Mobile’.

For those who weren’t there, here’s a summary of the key arguments and stats:

1. Apps will keep on growing

  • Apps have grown in ALL sectors, not just retail. An AppAnnie study states that mobile app usage has doubled in the past two years to an average of two hours per day
  • On average people use 10 apps per day and 30 per month
  • Four of five worldwide shoppers use a retailer’s app (UPS report)

2. People prefer apps to mobile-responsive web

  • User spend 7x the amount of time on apps as they do in mobile web browsers
  • Whilst web is more accessible, mobile apps are quicker and easier to use
  • Designed well, apps provide the fastest and simplest way for customers to use personal account functions
  • Security benefits – native apps use device software and resources, with a persistent memory and better password management, so users aren’t prompted to log-in/out

3. There’s still a need for mobile-responsive websites

  • This should be the minimum a retailer provides – and people still use mobile web browsers
  • Apps will improve the customer experience and your service offering 

4. Augmented Reality (AR) apps are about to explode

  • Huge investment being put into AR
  • Release of the ARKit and ARCore makes AR for retailers increasingly affordable
  • This should excite the whole industry, not just developers

5. Native vs. cross-platform debate continues

  • Cross-platform or productised white label apps are popular with some
  • UX design, personalisation and performance are optimised through native apps
  • Native apps account for 93% of sessions on Android phones worldwide (App Annie)

(NB. We wrote a whitepaper on this recently to help you decide what’s right for your company.)

6. Big-name brands are already doing it well

  • Apps can’t just replicate the web; the best apps offer much more personalisation, utility or value
  • Boots’ app offers tailored discounts and the ability to upload photos straight from a user’s phone to the Boots’ one-hour photo printing service
  • ASOS’s Visual Search Tool means users can take a photo of an item on their phone and the app will find something similar from ASOS brands
  • Our client Argos chose to focus on loyalty and control; customers receive regular personalised loyalty offers as well as the ability to manage their account, credit limits and transactions 24/7. These functions saw over 544k downloads in the first year, and 30,000-40,000 new downloads every month – switching customers from the web, the app became the biggest digital payment channel for Argos Financial Services

7. The future is already happening

  • Hyper-localisation is here. Boots are introducing this in the run-up to the Christmas period. The app will identify when a customer enters a store, sending them personalised promotional messages based on previous purchases
  • Mainstream AR is go! The IKEA app enables people to see what furniture will look like in their home, while Topshop’s trial of AR screens allows customers to try on clothes without entering the changing room
  • Voice recognition is starting to boom. Google reported this year that 20% of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices were conducted via voice. Accenture has reported that 10% of millennials have already used voice-activated ordering, while 38% are willing to try it

So, in summary – are apps still alive? They haven’t even started living yet!