REI exec credits Passbook for App Store exposure
November 1, 2013
REI bolsters app downloads
LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ – An REI executive at the Mobile Shopping Fall Summit this week said one of the biggest ways that Apple’s Passbook is helping the retailer gain a competitive advantage with its applications is through organic promotion within the App Store.
The REI discussed how marketers are either using a single-app or multiple-app approach during the “Developing a Suite of Apps To Create More Impactful Experiences” session. Mobile wallets and Passbook in particular were highlighted as tactics that are moving the needle in driving app downloads.
“We offer the ability to get the REI member card in a digital form downloaded into the application, but there are side effects to that as well – we have seen a lot of traction with a lot of downloads with the member card,” said Jeffery Klonowski, senior manager of digital retail – mobile at REI, Kent, WA.
“What we see even more is the exposure that it’s created to download additional downloads of the REI app,” he said.
“The biggest impact of Passbook is really been around the exposure that it creates within the App Store. So, Apple obviously wanted to push Passbook very heavily, constantly in their featured apps location. Because there have not been a ton of apps using Passbook, it has been a significant boom to our downloads to the fact that our weekly download rate is multiple times higher than our average was in 2012.”
REI launched on Passbook in late January and early February this year.
Based on what Mr. Klonowski is seeing within the app store, there are some big retail heavyweights that are primarily focused on driving retail functionality.
Home Depot is an example of a retailer that is pushing branded apps to the next level with additional utility-driven features such as how-tos or a mobile game app that incorporates the retailer’s sponsorship of ESPN Game Day.
If marketers do chose to go the one-app route, they need to make sure that it is not so chock-full of information that consumers cannot find what they are looking for.
As more content is packed into an app, page loads time increase and can push a consumer to become frustrated and eventually delete an app.
Additionally, internal-focusing factors also need to be considered. When brands begin developing multiple apps, costs obviously increase.
A multi-app approach means that marketers need to determine if the experiences are differentiated enough to support a separate mobile app.
“One of the things that we certainly realized over time is that, yeah, you spend a pretty penny to develop a native app and get it out there, but it’s an ongoing maintenance requirement,” Mr. Klonowski said.
The REI executive pinpointed eBay as a brand that is able to juggle and maintain multiple apps in the app store.
EBay has five iOS apps and leverages iconography to make the apps stand out in Apple’s App Store.
There are also some other low-hanging ways for marketers to drive awareness of mobile apps.
The most obvious example of this is a mobile landing page to highlight all of a brand’s mobile efforts.
Another is app store descriptions, which should be specific and spark consumers’ interest to update an app.
REI has three different apps – a shopping app, a snow report app and a branded Visa app that allows consumers to sign up for REI Visa cards. All of the apps are available for iPhone and Android devices.
The company also launched a fourth app two years ago to support the opening of a store in New York’s Soho neighborhood. It was only live for two and a half months, but was specifically meant to target New Yorkers, and points to the opportunity that marketers have with short-lived apps if the content is targeted to a specific group of consumers.
According to Mr. Klonowski, the key to REI’s app strategy is to look at the key performance indicators for each.
For example, the REI app is the flagship, commerce-enabled app to drive sales with interactive features such as store inventory and video.
The snow report app on the other hand is utility-based to show consumers current weather conditions at ski resorts.
The Visa app is a stand-alone app that simply lets consumers apply for an instant-line credit card. The exec acknowledged that there has been some success with the app, but also recognized that there is an opportunity to build the same functionality into REI’s flagship app at some point.
REI also focuses on more than simply racking up app downloads to measure the success of apps. Active users and time spent within the app also indicate how consumers are using an app.
“If it’s not necessarily conversion, what is the value that the application has to move forward?” Mr. Klonowski said.
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York
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