Mobile Apps Can Make It Easier to Shop at Your Store
Magic Beans is a Boston-based clicks-and-mortar business that specializes in baby gear, toys and "surprises" -- with one of those surprises being a mobile app that lets customers scan product bar codes, see detailed product information, purchase items and receive offers and coupons via their iPhone or Android device.
In the case of Magic Beans, the mobile app developer, AisleBuyer, approached them.
As for Sheri Gurock, the founder of Magic Beans, she was attracted to the idea for several reasons.
"We sell toys and baby gear, and our staff needs to be really knowledgeable to help parents make good purchase decisions about these important products," she explained. "By letting customers check themselves out at the end of a transaction, we make more time for our staff to talk to customers and help them."
The mobile app also cuts down on wait time, which is very important to busy parents. And the app "gives [customers] great insight into the products in the store by showing product descriptions and customer ratings," Gurock added.
As for customer reaction, Gurock said its been very positive. "Early adopters were very enthusiastic, and with some time and training, many of our smartphone-toting customers really warmed up to the idea." (Click this link to see a demo of the mobile app; scroll down a bit and click on View the demo).
AisleBuyer makes it easier for smartphone owners to shop in your store.
(Click for larger image).
Even more exciting, the app has brought in new customers. "People were really curious about the technology and how it works, and that drove a lot of traffic," Gurock said. "And in AisleBuyer's study of the beta launch, they found that people who used the app spent 19 percent more than our regular customers -- definitely a good thing!" (Per AisleBuyer, small and mid-sized businesses such as Magic Beans typically see a sales lift of more than 8 percent over the traditional point of sale after deploying the app.)
And although Magic Beans didnt have to pay for the AisleBuyer app (which typically requires an upfront fee and then a percentage fee on each transaction, both of which vary depending upon the business), Gurock cautions small business owners to "really think about ROI when making the decision to develop an app.
"It's easy to get swept away by the coolness aspect of an app," she said. "But if it's really going to propel your business forward (as any good investment should), the app really needs to dovetail with your companys mission and add new dollars to the till."