Tara Kirkpatrick

Mobile Trends Analyst, Apptopia

I am a Mobile Trends Analyst at Apptopia, the leader in real-time competitive intelligence. Brands use the platform to generate insights across mobile apps and connected devices, and investors use it in correlations that help predict private and public company performance. They rely on Apptopia to better understand consumer behavior and intent across app-based devices to gain a competitive advantage. My research focuses on the retail and travel industries.

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  • Posted on: 12/05/2022

    Is it time for Publix to scale its Greenwise Market concept?

    Observing Publix Greenwise locations, the key to small format success looks to be to play to high foot traffic and set up the store so that it's approachable to a tourist without a car. They have also chosen shopping centers or streets that only have restaurants nearby. The nearest grocery store would be a drive away. Target would want to think similarly and show up where tourists would be limited to buying necessities at a CVS.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2022

    Best Buy’s virtual store pilot earns high customer satisfaction scores

    The biggest benefit to Best Buy's virtual store is time savings, convenience, and confidence to shoppers. Digital clienteling has been a trend in China among luxury retailers, and it was a smart move by Best Buy to be an early mover with the service. Opportunities for the future could be securing pre-orders on new products and upselling personalization (e.g., device protectors).
  • Posted on: 11/30/2022

    Can Alexa find a path to monetization?

    Amazon is best off building an Alexa SDK that rivals Apple CarPlay, so that the voice assistance technology can be used in cars via mobile apps that drivers want to shop from while on the road. For example, Dunkin' Donuts installed the Apple CarPlay app and drivers could voice order their coffee while driving and the navigation would direct them to the nearest location. I am not sure what the Android equivalent of Apple CarPlay is, or if one exists, so Alexa could potentially fill that void or simply compete with CarPlay. The voice assistance in the car use case could alleviate user concern about Alexa listening to everything because people are in their cars a whole lot less. Besides, when driving, the need for hands-free help is necessary.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2022

    Is being the low price leader critical to Amazon’s ongoing success?

    I agree that selection and convenience are the main reasons why shoppers turn to Amazon. Because both represent significant opportunity-cost savings and Amazon has a reputation of affordability, I believe they could price creep and most Prime members would not look to an alternative. The opportunity costs Amazon removes from the equation by providing selection and convenience include: 1. not having to browse multiple sites 2. not having to drive to any stores 3. not having to wait more than two days before the item arrives to be consumed.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2022

    H&M brings rotating experiences to its new Brooklyn boutique

    Success for H&M is understanding what customers want. To take it a step further, H&M should be ranking the popularity and value of all the experiences they try out. With this data, the retailer can delineate the following to drive more traffic and unlock more spending across all stores: Which experiences to roll out in all stores. i.e., the most mainstream, popular activation that the most shoppers indicate has value. Which experiences have enough value to be made "exclusive" and "scarce," only to be earned by the most loyal customers. i.e., the experiences that the retailer could sell to unlock more spending. Kudos to H&M for going the distance to determine customer needs. It's tough for any company to break from routine and invest in the unknown, but they must be realizing, as is often said, that “The definition of 'insanity' is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
  • Posted on: 11/07/2022

    Dick’s Sporting Goods launches ventures fund

    Smart move by Dick's, and any retailer that follows, to connect with innovative brands and technology that could move the business forward through today's challenges and provide longevity into the future. Some retailers may have the ability to build this out internally but, for those that can't attract the talent, a venture fund is an alternative route. We will see "fads" from this trend, in the form of retail-backed venture funds that lack a clear vision or the management to integrate the portfolio companies when KPIs are reached.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2022

    Why is Walmart killing off a $1 billion private label?

    Lack of brand equity is spot on. Walmart needs brand equity with Joyspun to drive more people to its already unlocked fashion business online. Walmart's unlock in fashion has been happening online as its expanded inventory, most likely by tapping its third-party resellers across Asia that it has relationships with since it owns Indian e-commerce marketplaces Flipkart and Shopsy. The online/mobile shopping experience on Walmart feels like Ali Express/SHEIN to me for how much trendy, cheap clothing and shoes will come up in search. Joyspun, therefore, looks to me more as a statement of Walmart's significant investment and commitment to the fashion category. (It also follows the virtual try-on tech the retailer announced a couple months ago.) The more it builds its in-store label Joyspun, the more consumers will think to search for fashion on Walmart's app, and the stickier Walmart will be -- particularly to the female consumer.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2022

    Does Krispy Kreme fill a hole in McDonald’s menu?

    I like this a lot. The right partnership creates cross-selling opportunities for both brands. QSRs do an excellent job creating brand super fans, and the right partnership re-engages a fan to enjoy either/both beloved brand in a new way. Expanding menus in partnerships like this and the Red Robin/Donatos deal is also another way QSRs can make their drive-thrus more attractive than delivery from an Uber Eats/DoorDash.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2022

    BOPIS substitution processes need work

    It's interesting that Walmart sends an email. As the retailer continues to prioritize its mobile app as the core channel in the customer buying journey, why not use push notifications to alert customers of out-of-stock items? Or a text message? These are more real-time communication channels than e-mail. Plus, there are other benefits to the retailer when they can get customers to opt in to push notifications.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2022

    Will Shein’s new resale platform mute its fast-fashion critics?

    This won't mute its critics, who know the company's toxicity runs deep. The problem is that its customers are blind to the issues with how the business is run, and they will see this the same way that they see the $7 tank tops: another fun reason to shop there. Emphasis on the word fun because there's no doubt that the technology behind the experience will be sophisticated, engaging, and more interactive than a ThredUP, for example - where you could already be buying secondhand SHEIN and paying peer-to-peer. SHEIN's other superpower besides its tech is the sense of community it has created and that will be the other main driver of this program's success.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2022

    Lululemon subscription plan offers fitness where, when and how its customers want it

    Lululemon does have a history of creating community and engaging customers in a lifestyle, so a program like this is in its DNA and should succeed at some point. I see this going through more iterations before it really takes off. To Melissa's point, the environment for connected fitness right now is tough. Looking at connected fitness apps' monthly active users compared to the apps of physical gyms and fitness studios, it became clear this summer that home fitness people are ready to leave the house: gym & studio apps saw a 77% increase in users in June while routine users of connected fitness apps fell 33%. Given this sentiment, lululemon could focus more on the other member perks as a funnel. For examples, investing in the exclusive community events, trading up the 10% for an annual sale for members only (given that lululemon does not do sales), and organizing with its studio partners some some luxury treatment for members when at the physical studios for class.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2022

    Will most Americans spend Black Friday shopping on their phones?

    Mobile is the storefront for discounts and consumers know it. Since saving is top of mind this year, retailers should expect that consumers will stop at the mobile store at some point in their customer journey with the brand and optimize these features:
    1. Digital coupons: Push them on the opening screen and make sure they can be easily clipped and scanned.
    2. Buy online, pick up in store: Getting this experience right is table stakes even more than coupons in my opinion. It's a safety protocol from the pandemic that is here to stay, and, for holiday shoppers it also addresses two big pain points -- lines and reserving that special item. The biggest miss is often with inventory management, according to our app review intelligence, so start by ensuring that system is connected to the app.
    3. Returns user journey: Keep customers happy by making returns process clear upfront and develop a guided journey through the app to help them if it is needed.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2022

    Walmart enters the metaverse on Roblox

    It's a step in the right direction and will have compounding value. The innovative advertising approach to promoting actual items from the store in these gaming experiences is highly likely to resonate with Gen Z/Alpha who have growing distrust in traditional ads and even influencers. A recent survey by Klarna found that Gen Z consumers trust buying from brands over influencers and retailers. Walmart loses its big-box retailer appearance in the metaverse and builds its brand. Moving into the metaverse via Roblox is smart given its active and young user base. We have seen Chipotle's Roblox restaurant game releases correlate to increasing mobile app engagement, and in fact it has the highest rate of engagement among the top 30 quick-service restaurant apps. Walmart would be wise to follow Chipotle's example to drive metaverse to mobile to real world conversion. When Chipotle launched a menu item in its Roblox restaurant this month, it gave codes to gamers that joined Chipotle Rewards via its mobile app to get the Garlic Guajillo Steak for free in the real world.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2022

    Can Instacart marry in-store and online grocery shopping experiences?

    Instacart under Fidji Simo has taken a smart approach to become a technology partner to grocery stores. She was vocal about positioning Instacart this way since joining as CEO, and it's cool to see this bundle launch even after her transition to chair and more than one valuation cut. The consistent narrative and followed-through action should convey trust to grocers that, at least for now, Instacart is an ally, not a competitor.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2022

    Did Walmart just guarantee it will be the easiest place to shop for Christmas?

    I'm curious to see how Walmart gets the word out about these conveniences to draw appeal. There's no doubt that consumers will enjoy the perks, but they may not realize just how much until the experience is felt in comparison to what they have to go through with Target or Amazon. For this reason, Walmart may not reap the benefits until next holiday shopping season because most returns are done after the holidays.

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