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How to Build a Retail App that Millennials Need to Have


The term “Millennials” is on everyone’s mind. You hear about them on the news, they’re constantly trending on social media, and are denigrated by older generations as an indecipherable entity. Whether you identify with millennials or not, they are a massive population in the United States, and one that is coming into its own both culturally and financially. Retail apps are being embraced by millennials in increasing numbers, and, considering their buying power, this is a trend you should pay attention to. Let’s take a look at how to make your next retail app millennial-friendly.

Who Are Millennials?

Let’s get a good idea of who these millennials are. We’ll start with the official facts, as per the U.S. Census: millennials are defined as being born between 1981 and 1996, making them between 23 and 37 now. They are naturally more diverse, including lots of immigrant populations, and number over 83 million—more than a quarter of the U.S. population. The majority of this generation have known little to no time without any digital presence, and most have grown up with at least a modicum of internet involvement in their lives. Technology has accelerated exponentially every year of their lives, to the point where it’s expected and natural that the latest trends and features will land in their hands annually. While this population presents a lot of challenges, it also provides a myriad of opportunities, and nowhere is this more evident than in the world of retail apps.

What Do They Want?

According to this report, mobile consumers are very willing to pay for an amazing mobile shopping experience, and millennials lead the demographic pack with this assertion, with 44% saying it’s worth it.  68% prefer to use retail apps to make their purchase, and the US mobile buying market rang in at $210 billion last year, as per this study. Here, It states that nearly 50% of all millennials have at least one mobile retail app, and the large majority use them because they offer and easier and better experience than on a regular mobile website.

So, you’ve got all these numbers proving millennials are very into using mobile retail apps. Why? Well, they keep referring to the experience, which makes sense. Having a mobile retail app allows the consumer to immerse themselves in the brand experience, whether they are browsing, buying from home, or buying in-store. Providing a personalized and curated profile is the key, and the better you do with that, the more likely it is to be sticky with that user.

A key feature that your app needs to have is a very easy to navigate UX or your risk your app being uninstalled. One such company that fixed their UX to build up their consumer base is Southern Straps. They sell trendy watch straps for Apple watches and went to great lengths to revamp their UX to meet the needs of millenials. They came to Koombea to fix things like their checkout experience and ensure their products rendered properly. All of these UX driven changes have led to a thriving app for Southern Straps. You can read more about it here.

Personalized vs. Private

Privacy and security concerns are both big news these days. Identity fraud is worse than ever, and exposing your personal data and financial information is still a reason that some stay away. At the same time, having a personal customized experience necessarily requires loads of personal information to succeed. How does a retail app find the balance to deliver such a great experience?

Obviously, a developer needs to have high-end security, especially at the payment portal. You’ll want to have easy-to-read terms of service, and friendly reminders that you’ll never sell or share their data. That said, you’ll need to have extensive steps to track and mine the consumer’s behavior and journey to offer them that custom journey. Millennials love quizzes and surveys, so consider periodic pop-ups to entertain the user and get valuable behavior insight and data at the same time. Overall, it’s been shown that the user is willing to share personal information, but primarily within the app (as opposed to a mobile website). A “How can we make your experience better” section should give you need to know.

Which Features Do They Love?

Product reviews: Looking around at leading retail apps and learning their popular features should be done early and often. Amazon, for example, offers an extensive and robust review and ratings section. In fact, many users will jump onto Amazon just to conduct research on a product, even if they intend to buy it elsewhere. And Amazon might just have a better deal and make the sale right there, thus showing the value of a review section. Make sure this is a feature that you highlight, no matter what the reviewers are actually saying.

Saving money: Instant discounts, big deal coupons, and flash sales are a very important part of any retail app. While millennials as a whole have enormous buying power, many may not have a ton of disposable income. Due to their age, they quite often have lower-level jobs and large student loans to deal with. Combine that information with the ability to comparison shop and research on a mobile device, and you’ll see why discount hunting is big business. Michael’s, the art supply store, has dozens of different discounts going on simultaneously, and it’s hard to resist pairing up on coupons for maximum savings. If you’re able to personalize these discounts based on individual shopping behavior, all the better.

In-Store Functionality: In-store experiences are still very powerful. Having a geolocating feature that identifies when an app user is in the store can be a game changer. Push notifications announcing new products and great deals can start pouring in, and it’s likely that most shoppers would prefer interacting with a virtual assistant than an actual live associate. Having a product locator is a great idea, both to assure the buyer that the product is in stock at that location and help the buyer find the aisle and shelf it’s on. Finally, long checkout lines can be a point of friction. If you’re able to have a feature in your app that lets the buyer pay for a product in-app and walk straight out to their car, it’s a very attractive feature to millennials.

How Will They Know About It?

Don’t forget to consider your marketing plan when you are developing your app. Obviously, you’ll want to create a buzz on social media during development, so be sure to find which channels will appeal your target audience. Using influencers to try your product and review it on YouTube is a great way to reach a generation that devours online videos, and they are certainly worth allocating marketing dollars to get maximum effect. You can also retain them as brand advocates if you get a good response in the initial phases. Offering big perks to early adopters is an excellent way to build your brand awareness while getting crucial feedback on the app’s viability.

Teaming up with a professional and successful app development partner that truly understands the ins and outs of both millennials and retail app development will pay dividends in the future. Choose wisely, and get it started!

Do you have a mobile retail app idea? Check out some information about our retail app development experience and services and see if Koombea is the right fit for you!



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