Why does everyone feel the need to create a mobile app? Costco, I’m looking at you…

A few days ago I was picking up a couple of items from Costco (conveniently located around the corner from my office) when I noticed the most curious sign posted next to the register:

Now, I’m not a marketer, but something seems missing from this ad.  Let’s see… they tell me what it is (a mobile Costco app), they have the call to action (download today)… Oh, I know what’s missing: the value proposition.

Why would I want it?  What does it do, exactly?

The ad doesn’t give any indication of why I might actually want a mobile Costco application.  It just assumes that having a mobile app is reason enough.

I decided to download it to see if there was any point of this application’s existence.  In the app store, I could see some possibly useful icons.  There was a section for membership information (perhaps I wouldn’t have to carry around my card!) and a section for the monthly deals (perhaps I wouldn’t have to remember to bring the coupon book!).

Downloading the application showed the the application was in fact useless.

You could enter your membership information, but it was only so you could purchase items through the application from the online store.  You couldn’t use it to enter costco and authorize you to check out, so you still have to carry the card.

And the monthly offers?  All they seem to have done was scan in the monthly flier, and at a very low resolution.  It even explicitly says you can’t use it at checkout:

So I guess the ad was accurate after all.  There was no value proposition… because there was no value.

Why does every company feel the need to go out and build a mobile app?  Getting a mobile app takes some effort.  I have to go find it in the app store, enter my password, download it, and then stick it somewhere that doesn’t cause too much clutter in 100+ apps on my phone.  If I’m going to do that, it needs to be worthwhile.

I don’t install an application on my computer every time I want to interact with a store.  I just go to their website.

Mobile web speeds are improving rapidly.  Perhaps when 4G is widespread, we will see an end to this proliferation of mobile apps?

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1 Response to Why does everyone feel the need to create a mobile app? Costco, I’m looking at you…

  1. “We need an app!”… “why?” … “because all the other guys at the golf club have them!” – See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult

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