May 10, 2012, 12:26 PM

Have mobile app, will shop in store

The benefits of retail apps extend beyond the mobile realm, a new study finds.

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New research suggests consumers who have a retailer’s app on their smartphone really like that particular retailer. 45% of smartphone owners with a retailer-branded app on their mobile device visit the merchant’s store more often than consumers without the app, according to new a new study by ABI Research.

The study, which polled 965 U.S. smartphone owners in December, also finds 40.4% of consumers buy more of the retailer’s or brand’s products if they have its app. 35.8% of app users tell a friend about their store shopping experience and 30.8% encourage friends to visit a store.

“These are overwhelmingly positive numbers,” says Mark Beccue, senior analyst for ABI Research. “They are so compelling that if retailers do not have a smartphone app strategy in place right now they are in danger of being left behind by their competitors.”

However, the research also shows consumers are picky about the apps they choose to take up precious real estate on their smartphones. Just 25% of the respondents had downloaded a retailer-branded app. What’s more, retailers who do cross the hurdle and get their app installed on a consumer’s smartphone are likely sharing space with competition. 37.9% of the respondents said downloading a retailer’s app caused them to download other retailer-branded apps, ABI says.

“Clearly consumers are using retailer-branded apps as an engagement tool,” Beccue says. “Once a retailer can capture a consumer with an app, there is a real opportunity to leverage smartphone apps to enhance customer service, deliver richer, more relevant product information in real time, shorten checkout lines, and more. We are at the dawn of a very dynamic and creative time for retail.”

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