Retailers Are Changing Shopping With Mobile Apps

Smartphones are everywhere. According to Offcom, over a quarter of adults and nearly half of all teenagers in the UK own one, and the number of smartphone owners is growing exponentially – 59% of those who own a smartphone bought one for the first time over the course of 2010.

Offcom has also found that people are using their mobile phones more to access the Internet, with over 28% of UK adults accessing the Internet on their phones in 2011 rather than the 22% of 2010.

So what does this mean for businesses?

Creative Apps

One of the easiest ways to be proactive and take advantage of the new, smartphone-oriented world is to create mobile apps for your business. The object of these apps should be to encourage customers to use your business, either by making it easier for them to purchase products, or by encouraging them to spend time in your store (should you have one).

A number of different stores have found interesting ways of doing this. For example:


Tesco established their online grocery site in 2000, and have recently created an app along the same lines – it enables online grocery shopping, with fixed delivery slots. Tesco’s changing of this format to make it available on smartphone makes it simple for customers to use wherever they are. The simpler and more efficient any app is, the more likely that customers will use it – no one likes to be frustrated.


Starbucks have invented a nifty little app to encourage customers into their coffee shops. Over the Christmas period, they are using special red cups, each with one of five characters. Using a smartphone with their app, customers can use augmented reality to animate the character, with which they can also interact. The idea is to enhance the experience of being in a Starbucks, thus encouraging customers to stay and to return.

Amazon, meanwhile, has been attempting to make online shopping easier through their new app, ‘Flow Powered’. ‘Flow Powered’ scans the front covers of books, CDs and DVDs and immediately locates them on In addition, it will scan the barcodes of any other products. This app shows potential customers whether it will be cheaper to buy products on Amazon, as well as enabling an instant purchase of the product.

Quick Tap

An app which looks set to change business forever is Quick Tap. This is a system which allows purchases to be made by swiping your handset across a till (provided that the till is compatible with the system). This would be a payment method which could be used to buy products even as cheap as a cup of coffee.

Quick Tap, and other systems like it, are the objects of much speculation about the possibility of a future ‘cashless society’, with all payments being made by smartphone. Although only a quarter of adults currently own a smartphone, that number will increase when this generation of teenagers progresses into adulthood, and there may be a market for frequent cashless purchases. The purchase of systems to enable cashless purchases may be an important investment for businesses.

Changing Businesses

The creation of more apps for business will not always be a positive thing for all businesses – for example, although ‘Flow Powered’ is an extremely useful app for, it does mean that customers are more likely to shop on Amazon than at the shop where they found the product.

As with all developments, businesses will have to stay ahead of the curve and find ways to develop competing apps to keep their customers and perhaps even gain new ones.

The Future of Money?

Quick Tap is a system which allows purchases to be made by swiping your handset across a till. It became available earlier this year, and can be used for even such cheap purchases as a cup of coffee.

The replacement of all cash, credit cards and cheques by Quick Tap in the future is a possibility, but given the public’s aversion to the possibility of even scrapping cheques, it is not an inevitability until a great deal of time has passed, and all consumers are accustomed to the concept.

At Silicon Beach Training we believe the future is mobile. That is why we have put together a range of courses in Brighton to get developers trained for mobile development. These include iPhone App training, Android Development training and Mobile Web Design training courses. We also provide a wide range of business training courses including accredited PRINCE2 training and Six Sigma training.

Feature image courtesy of Silicon Beach Training.

Filed in: Feature Articles, Mobile Marketing

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