3 Simple Features Mobile Retail Apps Use to Increase Retention


Retail sellers have an easy way to incentivize customers to download their mobile apps: offering them unique products, one-time discounts, and special offers not otherwise available to other customers. The real challenge, however, begins with building retention in mobile retail apps.

To keep users engaged beyond that initial “aha” moment, mobile app designers need to create an experience that keeps delivering value to customers. If the app provides increasing value with use, then people will continue using it. Additionally, people will feel less inclined to delete an app with accrued value already stored in it.

The three retail giants below have found different ways to tap into effective mobile app retention loops that keep their customers coming back for more. And with some easy tests and modifications, you can use these techniques to build mobile retention in your retail app, too.

Walgreens: Exchange Value for App Usage

Exclusive offers aren’t good just for getting users to download your mobile app. They’re also a good way to keep users engaged with your app in the long run.

Walgreen offers a digital edition of their printed Weekly Ad in a prominent place in their app so that customers can find, clip, and save coupons without ever having to touch a single piece of paper. The app also gives users a sneak preview into the following week’s coupons so they can plan ahead and clip offers in advance, which offers an additional incentive to keep using the app.


How to Use This in Your Retail App

Though you may not want to create a full-length Weekly Ad edition like Walgreens, having a place in your app where users can review all current offers and store coupons is an excellent way to keep them logging back in. For even greater mobile app retention rates, make in-app coupons good for using during both online shopping and traditional in-store shopping.

Macy’s: Simplify Complex Processes

Creating gift registries for events like weddings and baby showers can be a complicated process. Customers have to go to the store, speak to an appointed service person, browse all items by walking up and down the aisles, and take notes on which items they’d like to add to their list.

Macy’s has found a great way to simplify the process for their customers through easy in-app lists. Unlike web lists, in-app lists allow customers to create their registries both from the comfort of their homes and while browsing products in-store to experience their real look and feel. Macy’s app also suggests how many gifts to add to the list and starts users off with ideas from a “Registry 101” list.


A well-designed mobile experience that simplifies a complex process can create a strong incentive for customers to continue to use a brand’s app.

How to Use This in Your Retail App

You don’t need to offer clients the ability to create a registry through your app to apply this mobile app retention technique. There are many complex processes you can simplify for customers through your app, such as in-store pick-ups for online orders, or one-click requests for delivery of large products bought in-store. Once users find an easier way to complete a process through your app, they will keep coming back to it to simplify their lives.

Home Depot: Help Users Navigate Their In-Store Experience

Another great way to create mobile app retention is to merge your customer’s in-app experience with their in-store experience. Home Depot capitalizes on this concept by providing various incentives for using their app while visiting one of their stores.

Home Depot

The first incentive comes in the form of a special offer that is available “today only” that can only be redeemed in-store. The second incentive comes as in-store maps that help users navigate their way through brick-and-mortar locations quickly and efficiently. Finally, the app offers a list of workshops and events available at local stores that the user can easily access and sign up for through the app.

Home Depot 2

How to Use This in Your Retail App

Designing an in-store companion app that customers view as an essential part of their experience with your brand will encourage usage and mobile app retention. Besides sharing necessary information, such as working hours and phone numbers, your app can also offer users other indispensable details like your return policy, holiday store hours, and latest offers.

You can also use this space in your app to cultivate a personal relationship with customers by adding photos of store manager(s) and team members.

Provide Value With Each Interaction to Boost Mobile App Retention

The examples we reviewed above share a common theme: they all involve features that, although simple, increase the value users get from the app over time.

If you are uncertain about the features you want to add to improve your mobile app retention, try using mobile feature flags to roll out new features for your mobile app, starting with a small and targeted subset of your userbase. At this stage, you can collect user data and feedback, and conduct A/B tests to refine that feature.

Your team can repeat this process as many times as needed. At each successive stage you’ll be improving the feature through testing and increasing the number of users that can access the feature, till you can confidently introduce the feature to your entire userbase. Done correctly, staged rollouts and continuous iteration will minimize risk and release time, and lead to a market-tested feature which bears your users’ stamp of approval.

Mobile app retention doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, the easier you make it for users to get value from your mobile app, the more likely they are to keep using it.

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