App or App-less Technology? That is The Question

It’s now been a decade since the ubiquitous iPhone phrase “there’s an app for that,” was first uttered. And with more than 8.93 million mobile apps available globally, it’s a phrase that’s held up well over time. But the popularity of apps means the market is now extremely saturated, and consumers are often hesitant to install or pay for an app.

In fact, U.S. consumers use an average of 20 apps per month and they’re most likely to download entertainment apps, such as gaming, sports, or video. For a retailer to succeed in getting a shopper to download their app, they must provide – and communicate the potential for – massive benefits in return.

That’s why we’ve seen app-less technology, or internet enabled services that provide functionality for mobile devices without the need to download or register for an app, explode in popularity recently. It eliminates any barriers for customer interaction. 

Let’s explore the benefits of both approaches, and what the differences mean for retailers and customers alike.

Apps to drive personalized service

Mobile apps can be immensely beneficial when it comes to self-checkout and queue busting. When a shopper downloads an app, they can self-scan products on their own device, and then pay directly from it. What’s more, when shoppers have to register and sign into an app, they share purchase history that can help retailers send personalized promotions and recommendations at the exact right time and place where it feels helpful and rewarding, instead of pushy or invasive.

Because retailers’ apps are often tied back to the rest of its systems, omnichannel connectivity provides opportunity for real-time pricing and inventory management, too. After all, dynamic pricing is quickly becoming an essential capability for responding to both significant and subtle shifts in demand.

One potential roadblock for mobile apps is the cost of maintenance, including regular updates and security management as it must meet guidelines for App Stores. The biggest barrier to engagement, as discussed above, is shopper buy-in. Requiring a download, even when an app is free, is an extra step of friction. There must be loyalty rewards or other immediate added benefits tied to the app in order to convince a shopper to take the time to find the app, download it, register, and keep it on their phone.

App-less tech to improve the user experience

Native mobile apps are built for specific platforms such as iOS or Android. On the other hand, web apps or app-less technology can be accessed via any internet browser, and adapt automatically to whichever device it’s accessed on.

Imagine all of the benefits of an app, without the need for friction on a shopper’s end. With additional accessibility and improved user experience through app-less technology, retailers can drive higher adoption and usage rates. Shoppers gain instant access to services and information as they needed it, from multiple touchpoints.

Now, with QR code readers built directly into phone cameras, shoppers simply open their phone and can begin mobile shopping in stores. App-less technology can help speed up processes such as self-scanning and checkout, as well as order fulfillment and BOPIS. What’s more, retailers can easily integrate new payment methods as they continue to evolve. 

As we’ve said in the context of headless commerce, modern retail demands flexibility and control. App-less technology can do just that. Without being tied to an app store, updates and changes can be made at any time.

Stay in control of customer interaction

Regardless of whether retailers choose to implement app-based or app-less technology, it’s important they make decisions that allow them control of the customer interaction. If you eliminate frictions for shoppers and provide them an easy experience, they will continue to shop with you in the future.

Let’s set up some time to discuss which option is best for you to succeed and meet your shopper’s expectations.