2010.50 | Canadian Retail iPhone Apps

Things have come a long way in Canada over the past couple years when it comes to iPhone Apps from retailers.  A recent glance through the iTunes App Store revealed a number of iPhone Apps from retailers that include Canadian content.  All of these look good, are relatively slick, and reflect their retail brands very well.

Amazon – This mobile interface to the Amazon storefront doesn’t hold any wondrous surprises though it does incorporate the capability to scan and get prices for products.  Quite common now on many iPhone apps, the scanning works quite well and allows Amazon to extend their reach into the physical world by allowing comparison shopping and nice reminders next time a user is online

bebe – The most interesting part of this catalogue type app that is so common for fashion/apparel retilers is the button right at the front that says Just In/Final Sale.  This is effectively what most fashionista types are looking for anyway, so it provides users a quick route to what they want and a reason to install the app and keep it on their device in today’s world of thousands of apps.  Strangely no photos of Kim Kardashian.

Best Buy Canada – Piggybacking on the US app, the Best Buy Canada app also directs users quickly to sale items – what most people want to check out.  The checkout process is also quite simple and consistent with the iPhone interface.  Sharing interesting deals is simple with one button access to share the deal via Facebook, Twitter or email.

Black’s Photography – Nice little app that allows users to print photos directly from their iPhone.  Prints can be picked up in an hour by choosing the closest store.  A clever use of the same back end interface used on their kiosks and on home PCs to print photos for pickup, and a great example of a true multi-channel delivery mechanism.

Canadian Tire – The usual flyer, store locator app has a terrific feature.  Users can scan products for pricing like the Amazon app.  The scanning feature not only looks up the item, but indicates if it is in stock in your current store selected.  That is a very nice touch that leverages an interface built for their web page.  Being able to indicate stock is key here, tough you have to hope the data is accurate. 

Cineplex – A very slick app, and it has to be to compete with the likes of Flixster and other movie apps that are available on the iPhone.  The app manages to show off new releases in a simple and attractive manner highlighting all of the incredible content that entertainment can provide.  It is much simpler to buy tickets than Flixster, providing more confidence since tickets are provided directly by the theatre.  The ability to obtain rewards from the Cineplex Scene Loyalty card is a nice touch as well.

Future Shop – See Best Buy Canada.

H&M – The app makes it easy to quickly get to the users’ department of choice.  Wishlists are nice in these sorts of apps, as it allows die hard followers of the brand to recall their favourites when they visit the site.  The usual sharing capabilities provide an opportunity to share favourite fashions.

Holt Renfrew – In line with their high end clientele, this app has a very high end look and feel.  Special events for a users default store are highlighted, and HR always has events of note.   Lots of videos of fashion shows and the like – not surprising given the target market.

The Home Depot Canada – Essentially a mobile interface into the website.  Having the default store set and a very fast navigation through the flyer makes a lot of sense.  Lots of how to videos are a nice touch that are a logical item for someone in a store to use.  Would love to see a scanner or a wayfinder of some sort on this app.

Ikea Canada – Ikea’s app is effectively a mobile version of their catalogue, but it is done very very well.  It retains the look and feel of a physical paper catalog with very obvious little icons on items that the user can touch for more information and pricing.  Ikea also leverages their web assets by allowing users to see if the product is in stock at their closest store.  Wisely, they word things as “Most likely in stock”.  Fair enough, given the turnover in a store.

Joe Fresh – The Loblaw fashion brand has a stylish app with a simplicity that matches their fashion ethos. Primarily a catalogue type app to show off the latest fashions available, the app makes use of a nice interactive feature that encourages users to shake their iPhone when on a piece of attire they like, and the app puts together an outfit for them.  Pricing is provided as well as a locator for nearest store.

L’Occitane – Given the cost of their high quality products, having an informational and review app is a great idea, and this one seems to follow in the shoes of Sephora.

McDonald’s Canada – A relatively simple locator app, it works quickly and well, very simply indicating 24 hour stores, and store hours of those that aren’ts.  Some information on current promotions. 

Staples.ca – Standard app that allows online purchase from staples.ca, with online shopping, store finder and flyers.  Nicely organized for business users in particular.

myStarbucks – Missing the 2d payment component of its US based cousin, this is still a nice useful little app.  The store locator shows at a glance if the store is open or closed with a little green or red sign.  The drink builder is a nice way to explore product without holding up the line.  Lots of details on products are nice too, as the stores aren’t the best place to browse and think deeply about packaged coffee.  The calorie calculator is also very useful.

There are many more retail apps available now than were even available a few months ago.  Looking at these was very encouraging.  Some of them even have enough utility to justify leaving them on one’s iPhone.  Features like scanning and product availability are an amazing feature for users shopping for deals or a specific product.   For users who are tied very closely to the brand, these apps are a great way to stay on top of their favourite brands and new products, and share those things with others.

Expect increasing functionality and tie-ins between stores and electronic interfaces on mobile devices as the need for channels blurs and interfaces into retailers become integrated across channels so fluidly that they no longer noticable.

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