Designing Mobile Apps That Generate Growth and Sales

There’s an app for everything today. For businesses and shoppers, it’s more than a convenience – it’s a business success driver.  Mobile shoppers are the fastest growing population, with 2018 smartphone purchases expected to account for +$118B in the United States alone.  Given the huge financial opportunity, brands can entice and delight mobile app users if they understand prime targets’ most desired experiences.

For the modern business, the benefits of a correctly designed app are endless. Apps can provide companies with real time diagnostics on customers’ behavior: browsing, search, product preferences and purchase behavior, both shopper-by-shopper and overall. This information can lead to customized recommendations and ads that keep each shopper engaged.

Branded apps increase users’ likelihood to purchase when designed correctly. Shopping experience personalization is the latest app advance and increasingly key to success.  Panera Bread has mastered end-to-end personalization with an app that allows customers to order customized meals, save their meal profile preferences for easy reordering, schedule pick-up times and locations, and calculate their order’s nutritional profile. Collectively, these features make the app experience personal and convenient for customers, and has driven over $1B in digital sales.[i]  Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and McDonald’s have seen similar success in using apps to drive their sales overall. 

While apps can drive above plan growth, they can also be a deterrent.  Apps must be simple to navigate, enhance the shopping experience, and never frustrate or annoy potential customers.   Apps will quickly be deleted if the pain points, such as UX difficulties, low engagement, excessive notifications, and more become intolerable. When forced to download an app, 63% of consumers will delete it shortly thereafter.[ii]  Once deleted, regardless of the number of improvements and upgrades, re-downloading is highly unlikely.

Successful apps are designed based on a deep understanding prime targets’ most desired experiences and then delivering against these needs. Panera’s results prove that meeting this high standard generates sales growth and positive ROI.   Panera’s customers perceive the food as healthy, delicious, and fast, and their app’s appealing features, including the nutritional calculator, customization options, and order pick-up scheduling delivers on all three desired benefit areas.  Delighted customers will repeat and are likely to generate positive word of mouth.  In addition, their rewards program adds a “good value benefit halo”, which further enhances loyalty.  Panera’s app investment is paying off with on all measures: strong sales, satisfied customers, enhanced loyalty, ROI and positive reviews.

LLI’s Experience-Driven Design© Method can enable other businesses to achieve similar results.  With an understanding of their prime targets’ Fundamental Human Values and most desired experiences, the app can be tailored to deliver on the benefits that matter most, leading to more downloads, greater customer retention, more app engagement, and sales growth.


     [i] John Kell, “Panera Bread Says It Hit $1 Billion Digital Sales Target,” Fortune, 14 June 2017.

     [ii] Lisa Lacy, “Mobile Shopping Is on the Rise, But Remains Split Between the Mobile Web and Apps,” AdWeek, 23 February 2018.