While most retailers have plenty of work to do to make their mobile apps more effective, a new ranking from Forrester Research finds that The Home Depot is acing its phone savvy, with an app that is much more than just a handheld version of its website.
While Home Depot was far out in front, the report also singles out Sephora, Walmart and Target for their mobile capabilities, noting that all four are able to add customer value beyond m-commerce.
With more than $1 trillion in retail dollars on the line, Forrester predicts smartphones will influence 32% of offline retail sales in the U.S. “This means that retail mobile apps must now meld the physical and digital worlds for customers—not simply bridge them,” the report says.
The Home Depot app distinguishes itself by working “like a virtual customer service agent that helps them navigate the store,” Forrester says, including visual item mapping data and inventory availability. Potentially complicated search results are simplified with best-in-class sorting and filtering. Product pages answer questions, and some even offer augmented reality, 360-degree views or video buying guides.
Sephora came in next, scoring well for consistent design, easy-to-use search results and interaction cues that help users shop and order. It also stands out for its
“look” section, which allows customers to post pictures of themselves wearing products as a quick real-life reference for other shoppers.
Walmart excels by bundling complementary products and detailed store maps, although its user experience score suffered from unclear headers, confusing filter selections and irrelevant marketing material that slows shoppers down.
Target, ranking fourth, benefits from such novel features as using AR for furniture placement, and incorporating Apple’s Siri.
Forrester’s analysis of Macy’s, Walmart, REI, Nordstrom and Kohl’s found competitive options, while Crate & Barrel lags.
Forrester tested the apps with 196 online shoppers, and then combined findings with its own review and a detailed analysis of 29 functionality and 29 user experience criteria.