While other retailers whine about purported mobile “showrooming” and devise supply-chain tactics for thwarting those in-store smartphone look-ups, Walmart appears to be embracing the smartphone-powered shopper. As we have said oh so many times before, the best defense against mobile apps at retail is building a better user experience for your customers. In a major update to its iOS apps, the mega-retailer has added a new in-store mode designed specifically to get customers to whip out those smartphones and make the best use of them in the aisles.
In a post at the WalmartLabs blog, the company is touting its in-store aisle locator. The Walmart app now can guide you through the cavernous environs that are the enclosed cities of Walmartlandia. Now items that shoppers have on their shopping list can be located at the local store. The feature works now at all of the Walmart locations and across most items.
In fact, the smart approach Walmart is taking here is to make the app experience a loop that keeps you involved and inside the app rather than consulting the popular third parties. A scanning tool enables you to start building a shopping list from products at home, see the pricing, and then find it in-store. As the blog posts argues, “no matter where you happen to be, only our app helps you see the estimated total of your Walmart shopping trip before ever leaving home.” The app will recognize when you are in the store itself and prompt you to enter in-store mode.
At least directionally, this is where retailers have to head. You don’t fight the in-store app effect; you compete for the customer with a superior experience. You make whatever value a user is getting from a third-party app insignificant relative to the ease of use, seamlessness and empowerment your app provides.