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Store apps, do they make life easier?

By Staff Writer
Justmoney previously looked at banking apps from the big four banks, Absa, First National Bank (FNB), Nedbank and Standard Bank. Banks are not the only businesses to take up the use of apps in a bid to draw more people to their store and make life easier for customers. But what do these apps offer and are they worthwhile using?
 
The Pick n Pay App
 
Mike Cotterell, head of online shopping at Pick n Pay noted that the Pick n Pay App was launched in October 2013.
 
“The app is free and available for Apple, Android, Blackberry and Windows smartphones. It can be downloaded for free from the Google Play and iTunes app stores. Those without smartphones can visit the Pick n Pay website or mobi site or dial *120*905# to manage their Smart Shopper accounts,” said Cotterell.
 
The app allows Pick n Pay customers to locate stores, contact Pick n Pay, as well as see what promotions the store has on offer. In addition, the app allows Pick n Pay Smart Shopper members access to a range of tools.
 
“They can access their accounts and any Smart Shopper services such as switching points, seeing what’s on promotion, redeeming vouchers in store or online, viewing previous shopping history or donating points to charity. Additional services such as switching points to either airtime or Avios are also available, alongside access to a comprehensive recipe database,” revealed Cotterell.
 
While the app is free to use and available to anyone, there are certain features of the app which are only available to Smart Shopper members.
 
“The only qualification needed is that you need to be a registered Smart Shopper member. The app is free and a service to our customers who we know are often stretched for time and welcome the chance to manage their Smart Shopper membership while on the move,” noted Cotterell.
 
He added: “The app is like having a smart shopper kiosk in your pocket! We aim to provide the same capabilities through our online shopping website and our kiosks as we do on the app. The customer can decide what works best for them.”
 
While the app doesn’t provide customers with direct financial advice, Cotterell pointed out that it does keep a shopping history, allowing customers to monitor their spending.
 
“We continue to listen to our customers and work on ensuring our App adds value to everyone - whether it be the convenience of being able to view any Webticket purchases in the app, or find out how long it will take you to get to your nearest store. We have an exciting roadmap of enhancements ahead and are continually looking for ways to improve the experience,” added Cotterell.
 
Woolworths App
 
The Woolworths App launched in 2012 and is free for use. Woolworths Financial Services highlighted: “The app provides a mobile self-service tool which links the Woolworths Financial Services portfolio and WRewards Programme. It enables Woolworths’ customers to conveniently access their store card, credit card and loan account information, and the WRewards loyalty programme, using their mobile phone.”
 
As with the Pick n Pay App, the Woolworths App does not provide customers with any financial advice or access to any financial aids or services, such as access to their credit report.
 
The app does, however, allow customers to carry out a variety of tasks. “Instead of calling the contact centre, customers can simply check all account details on the App. Customers also have the ability to view and redeem their vouchers online. So instead of carrying vouchers, our customers can now simply display their digital voucher at the point of sale via the mobile app for easy and instant redemption,” said Woolworths Financial Services.
 
Furthermore, Woolworths Financial Services noted: “Woolworths Financial Services created one-solution that allows its customers to check their account balances as well as their loyalty status, vouchers and benefits all via the convenience of an app. This version of the app will be available to non-Financial Services customers as well.
 
“In comparison to previous versions, the new release is more user-friendly, with new features that include the ability for customers to present vouchers for scanning at the Point of Sale, removing the need for printed vouchers, and enabling loyalty status updates in real time.”
 
Edgars App
 
An Edgars’ spokesperson noted that the Edgars app is called Edgars Club Magazine. He explained: “We have increased our omni-channel strategy for the Edgars Club magazine and extended print into being fully digital. The tablet version was launched about a year ago while the mobile version launched in March 2015.”
 
Edgars highlighted: “You don’t have to be an Edgars Account holder or Edgars Club member in order to download the app - it’s free and open to everyone with a tablet or smartphone.”
 
According to Edgars, the Edgars Magazine App is “the only free to air publication of its kind in South Africa, whereas other publication apps require subscribers to pay a monthly fee.”
 
The app offers a range of feature, allowing people to view the Edgars Club magazine both online and off-line, with interactive content and exclusive articles and competitions.
 
According to Edgars, for example, the app “allows readers to have a 360o view of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. They can watch videos that relate to the content and hear sound effects.” In addition, users of the Edgars Club Magazine app “can access vouchers, scratch cards and are able to link straight to ecommence sites where applicable.”
 
As with the previous two apps above, the Edgars Club Magazine app does not provide users with any financial help or advice.
 
TFG App
 
The Foschini Group (TFG) App allows customers to keep track of their account, vouchers and personal details, along with a host of other features. Once a person has created a profile they can access the mobile app, mobisite or website, where they can:
 
·         View account information,
·         Manage your rewards & other vouchers,
·         Block cards,
·         Update personal information,
·         Make account payments,
·         Purchase insurance, club magazines etc.,
·         Locate stores,
·         Increase your credit limit,
·         Instantly send us your feedback, and
·         Receive exclusive marketing news.
 
“The app is available to customers across our 18 brands and with exciting future plans like online shopping, you’ll get the best of TFG fashion and functionality all on your mobile,” explained the TPG App profile on Google Play.
 
A comparison
 
While these apps provide customers with a range of features, the features available on these apps appear to be the same as the features offered on the different stores’ websites or instore services. While this may be advantageous to customers who do not have access to a desktop or laptop computer, there appears to be very little added benefit for customers.
 
However, one of the benefits of these apps is that they are available for free download. It is important to keep in mind though that while the store may not charge you to download the app, your mobile service provider may charge for the download.
 
There are a number of other stores that offer apps to their customers as well, with many of the features being the same or similar to those offered by the stores above. Pick n Pay and Woolworths noted that they continue to update and improve their apps’ offerings. One feature that may be beneficial to store card members who have the app on their phone would be for stores to allow customers to pay using the app, rather than needing to carry their store card around with them.

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