Four ways to get shoppers to choose your retail app experience

| March 7, 2018 | By

Creating a retail app is one thing, generating user adoption is an entirely different challenge, says Yoyo’s head of design & user experience, Divya Hughes. With personalisation and gamification at their core, she reveals the four key pillars her team rely on to successfully make a retail app the habitual shopping channel choice for customers.

4 ways to get shoppers to choose your retail app experienceMobile is now an integral part of today’s shopping experience, with consumers engaging with a whole host of different retail brands in seconds, whether it’s searching price comparisons, reading reviews or scanning for offers – and all this before they even go on to make a purchase.

However, consumers still tend to conduct their pre-purchase research via their mobile browsers, as opposed to choosing a dedicated retail app experience. In fact, 60% of consumers have two or fewer retailer apps on their smartphones and 21% don’t have any at all, according to research from Forrester Consulting.

Statistics like these can be a deterrent for retailers thinking of creating a mobile app experience for their customers – the challenge seems daunting, if not impossible.

The mobile app industry may be growing leaps and bounds in the UK, but getting users to adopt your well-thought-out retail app experience is never a given.

But don’t cast aside your mobile app strategy just yet! Over the past few years, Yoyo’s user experience design (UXD) team has worked with a fair few retailers to significantly enhance engagement with their customers via a mobile app experience, which has resulted in some work we’re pretty darn proud of!

With that in mind, we want to share four key principles that sit at the heart of how the UXD team works at Yoyo. We think these will help you increase user adoption and create a loyal customer base through your retail app

1. Gamification

Now more than ever, it’s important that your app provides multiple experiences. If you think about a gaming app, players generally go through a tutorial first, are given basic missions, and then for days or weeks, are driven on with challenges to take on more and more difficult tasks.

Through retail gamification strategies, these game concepts can be used to motivate your customers to be more engaged and to drive specific behaviours.

With your retail app, attempt to move your customer along in their journey from an activated user to a promoter of your app. To achieve this, you need to gradually build habits and expectations around key shopping behaviours – in retail we’ve found the most effective moment to engage comes when your customer pays for their items.

By creating a delightful interaction at the point-of-sale, you can reinforce the recall value of your retail app, while addressing this customer pain.

In the case of Yoyo’s Spin the Wheel, a customer uses the app to pay, spins the wheel presented to them in-app and earns a chance to win from a range of rewards.

This experience at the point-of-sale is goal-oriented for the customer, as it incites a stronger emotional investment in the payment activity and supports community sharing.

Incentivise key actions like this (known as the “core loop” in gaming language) and reward consistently to make sure the customer feels they are progressing.

This type of activity sits at the heart of a gamification strategy –  building systems that reward and incentivise customers, so they feel some accomplishment for engaging in these main actions.

You should also consider that highly engaged and elder customers will generally use an app in more complex ways. It’s important to treat users differently depending on where they are in their lifecycle, and to build features and experiences tailored to a specific segment of that lifecycle.

2. Proximity based triggers

Our digital lives are becoming increasingly inundated with triggers and content. But it’s only when we want or need something that we tune in through convenient, self-initiated bursts of digital activity.

Take the oft-quoted stat that, on average, we check our phones 150 times a day. Pair it with another that says we spend around 177 minutes on our phones every day, and you get a pretty fascinating reality: our individual mobile sessions averages a mere 1 minute 10 seconds long, which take place dozens and dozens of times per day. It’s like we’re constantly speed dating our phone.

Behind these short mobile bursts are countless interactions, whether it’s texting a spouse, a carpool update, dropping a quick work email, or posting a holiday photo to make friends jealous.

These moments are a common part of life, but they’re not moments when we’re necessarily looking to engage with brands. And if a brand does try to butt in with a distracting or irrelevant message? Swipe.

But there are moments when we’re very open to the influence of brands. This will be when we want help informing our choices or making decisions.

For UX designers, these “micro moments” are an open invitation to engage. And they’re the “micro moments” your retail app needs to be ready for.

In many ways, micro-moments have become the footsteps that lead people to your store or online site. Capitalising on these micro-moments to build a habit loop is key.

At Yoyo, our design team is very fortunate to have access to a rich set of behavioural basket data. This enables us to engage with users at a time when they are most likely to interact or transact with a brand.

How basket data can revolutionise your customer retention strategy

Similarly, by using geo-location settings and other tech (such as beacons), we know when users are in the vicinity of your bricks and mortar store. Showing valuable content at the right micro moment, not only incentivises, but starts to influence the purchase decision, converting an out-and-about shopper into a transacting in-store customer.

3. Behaviour led personalisation

Your retail app needs to instill a sense of ownership in your target customers. Make sure you give them control over their patch.

Make your retail app your customers’ own space and adapt to their experience as they go through their lifecycle with the product to prioritise the key actions and emphasise the value at each stage (Download>Activation>Onboard>Join a loyalty programme).

If your customers are able to personalise their digital surroundings when they engage with your brand, then they will have a greater affinity for your product and your brand as a whole.

Here’s a few thoughts:

a) Allow app customers to change their experience of the app to best fit into their everyday usage and behaviour. Build an experience that is centered around their behavioural habits of usage as opposed to generic patterns for all.

b) Make sure your customer feels understood and cared for by you in a time of generic retailer apps that believe one size fits all.

c) Empower your customers to choose which rewards and incentives they can redeem with their points, and give them something to feel emotionally invested in. You can control the points required for reaching a reward, but give your customers the ability of making the choice on how to use them.

d) Personalisation only works when you understand the habits of your customers: when do they buy, what do they buy, campaign engagement levels.

e) Monitor the performance of your rewards for customers to constantly improve their experience with your mobile loyalty scheme.

The main thing to remember is that customers are unlikely to engage with brand or service that doesn’t value them as an individual and only delivers a generic experience. So when looking for a solution to improve your retail app experience, steer clear of off-the-shelf white-label generic apps that only provide static solutions.

4. Shout your retail app from the rooftops

Just like with any other special sale or new campaign, consumers won’t know about your app if you don’t promote it. Make sure your in-store experience is focused on reminding customers of your retail app offering.

To build a connected retailer ecosystem and to gain a 360 view of your customers’ purchasing habits you need to drive usage of your app to enable more transactions.

Start by building an exclusive app only club and create FOMO! Create exclusivity to get more customers to adopt this new shopping experience for long-term ROI.

Once you’ve laid the groundwork for a community, be sure to consistently send special messages with offers or deals through the app to ensure visitors are reminded to use it. The more often they use an app, the more it will cement itself as the shopping channel of choice.

Finally, consider offering an incentive (e.g., a coupon or discount on their next purchase) to generate more consumer participation in the beginning.


The key thing to remember is to have a plan in place once you’ve built an app. We enable retailers to devise a plan to market their app accordingly across all consumer-facing communications.

From point-of-purchase (PoP) displays to online microsites and everything in between, every piece of in-store collateral and digital content should have a call to action to remind visitors about the app and direct them to download it.

It’s all about making your retail app an habitual shopping channel choice for your customers.