This is the second in a series of blog posts evaluating the user experience of some of the top 10 shopping apps as rated by this June 2012 Nielsen study . The last post evaluated the Out of Milk Shopping List app for Android which allows users to organize products they need to purchase from the grocery store.
Still evaluating shopping aids, let’s take a look at the SavingStar Grocery eCoupons app. Available to iPhone and Android users, this app helps customers take advantage of digital coupons at retailers whose loyalty card programs they use. A unique feature of this app is the ability to choose the payout you receive for your savings, which include bank account deposit, PayPal, Amazon.com gift cards, or a donation to American Forests. While this can also be considered a drawback if your immediate goal is to reduce your bill at the register, it is a good option for those who want to make use of their savings in other ways.
I tested this app out using the iPhone focusing on the two main features for the app: Browsing for coupons and utilizing linked loyalty cards.
First, users must register with their email address and their loyalty cards in order to take advantage of the app. Participating stores are identified by the iPhone’s geolocation service, an alphabetical directory, or manually-entered zip code:
Once consumers select a store and enter in their loyalty card account number, the information is stored in the account section (below). From this page, they can quickly find nearby stores by clicking on the pin or activate the card barcode for easy use in stores:
From there, the coupon browsing experience is relatively straightforward. Customers can view a variety of available coupons, their value, the number of times they can be used, and expiration date on the initial page. To read more about an offer, they can tap I Want This (below) or they can tap the arrow to expand the element and read more. As users activate coupons, a running total of coupon value is shown at the bottom of the screen:
Browsing coupons is facilitated by sort and filtering capabilities. Options to sort coupons by Suggested, Value, A-Z, Expiration Date, or Category appear at the top of the page. Options to view all coupons or filter by those activated versus those not activated are also available. Once the desired view is customized, messaging at the bottom of the screen informs customers how the coupons are organized.
This app has a lot going for it:
- It takes advantage of the iPhone’s geolocation service at the right points in the experience to help users find a participating retailer or find a local store once they’ve entered in their loyalty card information.
- As you can link multiple loyalty cards, the app reduces the need to carry these with you at all times, eliminating the pain of forgetting cards at home or being unable to locate them quickly at the register.
- Animation is used effectively in the app. For example, when visitors tap a coupon, it spins around to indicate it is activated. Similarly, as visitors change their Sort or Filter options, the page zooms out of sight to clearly alert customers that they have successfully changed their view.
Some areas of opportunity and recommendations are:
- Customers cannot see all available Sort or Filter options without clicking on the Sort or View actions. While messaging appears at the bottom of the screen to alert them as to what they are seeing, it is easily overlooked. Instead this messaging should appear at the top of the screen.
- Similarly, messaging related to the number and value of coupons activated is easy to overlook as it appears at the bottom of the screen. Presenting this messaging at the top of the screen would make it easier to locate.
- There is no way to deactivate coupons. While this is not a huge burden as you can simply decide not to take advantage of those you’ve accidentally activated, it does clutter the view of activated coupons reducing the utility of being able to easily distinguish between coupons you want to use and those you don’t need. Instead, the app should allow users to deactivate coupons if they wish.
- “Sold out” messaging and colors could be more explicit when a coupon is no longer available. Right now, small red messaging appears but is not visible until you scroll. If the entire block was red, this would better alert customers that the coupons are no longer available. It is not clear why these exist at all (perhaps they are shown to notify those who activated them that they are no longer available). In any case, rendering the block in red would be the most effective way to alert those who need to know.
Overall, this app has a good concept, but could deliver more from a user experience perspective, particularly as it relates to browsing for coupons. It is essential that users can easily determine what they are viewing as they seek out coupons including how the coupons are sorted as well as what their options are for filtering them.
The advantage to improving the user experience is you then begin to meet the expectations, needs, and wants of the customer, which in turn, increases customer satisfaction. ForeSee data shows a strong link between customer satisfaction and financial success for companies so this is a win-win for app and site creators as well as the customer. Measuring the user experience using powerful ForeSee scientific customer satisfaction analytics coupled with usability audit reviews helps identify areas of improvement and best practices to help lead web and mobile strategies forward.
Join us next time as we take shopping aids to the mall! We’ll take a look at RedLaser to see how it helps customers make the most of their shopping experience with their favorite retailers. Subscribe to the ForeSee Blog or to my posts to stay up-to-date.