By Paul Skeldon

Retailers should be utilising apps to boost sales across their estate, not just online says Dan Thornton, Head of Solutions Development, Hughes Europe

The rise of smartphone apps has been one of the most significant technological developments of the past decade. There really is an app for everything, as they say. From social networking to sports and fitness, video streaming, gaming and even dating, it’s hard for many of us to imagine a single day during which we don’t rely on a smartphone app to assist us in some way.

In the retail sector, apps have been instrumental in supporting the rise of e-commerce. Enabling users to access online product listings and place orders from anywhere with a network connection has stimulated sales for retailers based solely online and bricks and mortar retailers have been quick to catch on.

The adoption of apps that improve the in-store experience for customers or that join up the retailers online and offline sales channels however remain largely unexplored. Instead, we’re experiencing a growing trend for theatrical in-store experiences that rely on Virtual Reality (VR) and similar expensive tech that the so-called innovators of the retail industry believe will draw customers into bricks and mortar stores.

Providing an expensive and immersive USP is all well and good, but what value do these theatrical experiences really bring to consumers? Recent reports suggest that that 90 per cent of shoppers use their smartphones in stores, yet retailers seem to be overlooking the potential that an in-store app could have in terms of increasing customer convenience with a bit of that theatrical wow-factor thrown in for good measure.

A retailer launching such an app can gather all the data they can handle in return for providing exclusive offers and access to in-store Augmented Reality (AR) features. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will then work in the background, learning all about their preferences, footfall routes, time spent in store, reception to merchandising, and any other intelligence the retailer is looking for.

Using data analytics, retailers…