Question: I want to build an app to drive traffic to my retail business. What are some of the features I should consider including in the app itself?
Forget About It
"You didn't say what sort of retail business you own, but I think in the vast majority of cases this is not an investment that will pay of unless you can provide massive value through the app and invest significant money in online marketing to drive downloads. Instead, I would focus on partnerships with local Groupon & LivingSocial type sites, Facebook Places, Google Places, DealMap, and LevelUp."
Deal and Directions!
"Have a location based discount feature - customer has to check-in at your location via your app to unlock special pricing. Have a Directions feature so that they can get to your location from no matter where they are. "One touch call" and "share it with friends" features also help them getting connected to you as well as connecting you to new customers (their friends and followers)."
Create Special Promotions
"One of the big features to get more sales is by creating a rewards system in using the app so people that use the app frequently and well are rewarded with special offers, discounts and such. This will certainly increase loyalty and engagement while boosting sales."
Does It Solve a Problem?
"Make sure when you create an app that it somehow "solves a problem and serves a niche." People like to use apps that serve a purpose whether it's information driven, makes them laugh helps with productivity etc. When creating an app think about what you would want out of the app if you were the customer."
Mobile Payments are the Next Big Thing
"Mobile payments are going to be huge and you have the opportunity to let customers pay with their smart phones before your competitors do. Check out Square and Intuit GoPayment to see how mobile payment processing works and whether it's right for you. Promoting that you accept mobile payments will surely show your customers that you're innovative and ahead of the curve. "
Social Media Friendly Apps
"I would recommend including social media engagement where real time interaction is built into the app-this could include live Facebook or Twitter streams. Strive to build an app that creates real community amongst your fan base-allow them to meet each other virtually and build stronger brand evangelists to not only use your app but spread the word about your business! Be social media friendly."
Give Them Magical Powers
"Before you start building an app, make sure you're not just summarizing your webpage. Rather, give your customers some kind of magical power to interact with your business with only a few taps. For inspiration, check out how Starbucks lets you interact with Starbucks loyalty cards, while Chipotle lets you almost instantly place an order for pickup."
Make It Share Worthy
"An app isn't very effective if only a handful of people are using it. Build in benefits and features that inspire sharing. People are inclined to share things that are useful. Be sure your app solves a problem your clients have."
Don't Focus on the Features - Focus on Needs
"Ask yourself one simple question: What's in it for my customer? Why would they want your app? Does it give them coupons, specials, discounts, behind the scenes access, exclusive opportunities? If so, now we're talking. Reward them, and they shall reward you with their presence."