Top mobile apps for Black Friday 2011

Brands and marketers are taking note that mobile is a key ingredient in driving in-store traffic and retail sales. It is no surprise that companies are building apps specifically for Black Friday to provide consumers with another purchasing medium.

Here are some examples of notable apps created specifically for Black Friday.

Walgreens is bringing mobile coupons to smartphone users beginning the day after Thanksgiving as it looks to enhance the shopping experience via its mobile apps.

Walgreens is adding mobile coupons that can be scanned at point-of-sale to its existing mobile applications. The coupons, which will be available from Nov. 25 to Dec. 24, will range in value from 50 cents to $5 and will be good toward a variety of products including beauty items, gifts, consumables and diapers.

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The app will be an essential tool for users for Black Friday because not only will they be looking for coupons, but they can redeem them at the point-of-sale via the app.

Mobile coupons are on the rise and the app takes advantage of that.

During Black Friday, consumers are already looking for deals so an app that features an added incentive is great during the holiday season.

“This is another way in which we’re enhancing our mobile apps and creating greater value for our mobile customers who use the app,” said Rich Lesperance, director of marketing for ecommerce at Walgreens, Deerfield, IL.

“Today’s consumers are seeking value and convenience, and we’re entering the peak holiday shopping season,” he said.

“This feature makes it easier for our mobile users to redeem coupons – because there’s no clipping or printing required — it’s as easy as downloading the app, and you’re ready to shop and save. And this now enables our mobile customers to use the app in our stores.”

Choose your gift card’s design

Home goods retailer Williams-Sonoma has rolled out mobile gift cards in time for the holiday shopping season.

Using CashStar’s mobile Web digital gifting platform, Williams-Sonoma’s customers can be the first to purchase and send mobile gift cards directly from their smartphones. Additionally, the service gives the retailer an easy way to track the sales made with the gift card.

The CashStar app helps eliminate shoppers’ hassle of carrying and finding loyalty, rewards as well as club membership cards.

Consumers are sometimes overwhelmed with the amount of loyalty cards they have in their wallet, so the ability to store it digitally on their mobile device is ideal.

“Consumers of Williams-Sonoma will now be able to easily shop from their mobile devices,” said David Stone, cofounder/CEO of CashStar, Portland, ME. “The high-quality shopping experience that customers have come to expect is now optimized and delivered when purchasing personalized, easy to use gift cards.

“This holiday season, consumers can now easily shop for an egift card on their smartphones,” he said. “Williams-Sonoma and CashStar have made this important program work beautifully on smartphones as part of the mobile gift card solution.”

The Snap Appy iPhone app

Specialty retailer Old Navy is upping its mobile efforts with an iPhone application designed to increase holiday sales and let consumers know about new products.

The Snap Appy app lets consumers scan products in-store to unlock season-themed surprises and rewards while shopping. Additionally, the app connects to the retailer’s mobile-optimized Web site to let users shop from home.

During Black Friday, consumers are on the prowl, but are looking more for big deals and rewards rather than a product they need.

Using the mobile app, consumers can scan products to know only learn more about it, but to redeem rewards as well.

“As our marketing evolves, we’re focused on innovating and looking for culturally relevant ways to better engage our target customer, and best serve who she is today,” said Deborah Yeh, vice president of marketing at Old Navy, San Francisco.

“Old Navy’s new mobile app, Snap Appy, addresses our customers’ desire to have a shopping tool for their mobile-based lifestyles,” she said.

The TapBuy deals app

Target, Gap and Old Navy are among the retailers whose discounted merchandise can be found and purchased via the new mobile shopping app TapBuy Deals.

TapBuy Deals lets consumers shop sale items from retailers, local offers from deal sites such as Groupon and also finds discount codes to apply to purchases. The app uses a streamlined checkout process so that users can complete their purchases with just a few taps.

Many apps currently out in the app stores help users find deals online.

However, navigating checkout screens to buy items is a hassle for consumers using their smartphones.

The TapBuy app lets customers buy products quickly when they enter their billing and shipping information, something that will prove to be useful during Black Friday.

“In mobile commerce, one of the biggest problems is that it is really hard to buy – the failure rate is like 80 percent,” said Blake Scholl, CEO of Kima Labs, San Francisco.

“TapBuy is the first mobile shopping app that has a checkout built-in that is really fast and easy to use,” he said.

“The ability to buy on the go is big — that’s a big differentiator.” Friday apps roundup

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