The 10 Best Retail Apps

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When it comes to opinions, everyone has one (OK, these days, maybe more than one). But this list of top 10 retail apps is worth heeding. It comes from Ian Naylor, founder and CEO of AppInstitute, one of the world’s leading do-it-yourself app builders that boasts more than 70,000 apps built.

Unlike other lists out there, it looked at the top-ranked free shopping apps, eliminated any that weren’t in multiple territories outside the United States and Canada, excluded apps that didn’t allow users to purchase and tried to include apps that were about more than fashion.

AliExpress, an arm of Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba, connects shoppers with small Chinese businesses. Purchases can be made without leaving the app, with AliExpress processing payments and offering buyer protection. Users can set category preferences and earn coupons by performing daily tasks or playing games.

Amazon draws praise for its enormous catalog and the ability to search for products using an image. Credit cards, gift cards and even in-store bar codes are scannable, too. Once the package arrives, scan the bar code to know what’s inside without opening.

ASOS focuses solely on apparel with a global appeal. Shipping is available in more than 200 countries, so users can select one of 15 currencies in which to view pricing. Click on an item and view a short video clip of a model moving about in it — testing that all-important fit.

Depop allows users to chuck unwanted items — new or secondhand. An explore/search function presents the latest items while a search allows users to look for items matching the specific search term. Transactions can be completed in or out of the app.

eBay’s app “doesn’t offer any standout features,” Naylor says, but it does “a great job at keeping things familiar for users who are used to the eBay website.”

Etsy also is heralded for keeping its app like its website, but includes the added benefits of push notification and Apple Pay. It also includes location tracking, connecting users to local events and stores.

Groupon’s app is ideal for connecting travelers to local deals. Users can search for deals in specific categories or locations, too.

Lidl is the only app on the list without an e-commerce function. It made the list “because it shows that any business, even those not yet ready to embrace e-commerce, can create an app that is useful to their customers.” The inclusion of a shopping list — created by browsing categories or swiping items — earned the extra notice.

Wish gathers details to enhance the personalization aspect. It also solves one of the most frustrating aspects of e-commerce apparel shopping: Finding an item that isn’t available in the user’s size. Because the user enters this information at the outset, the search shows only the most pertinent products.

Zalando is not available in the U.S. or Canada, but is in 14 European countries. It offers text-based and bar code searches; products are organized by category and subcategory.

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