One of the major factors that can diminish the quality of online brand experiences severely is a flawed mobile app. Increasingly mobile device activity takes place on apps, meaning that when customers want to shop or to explore a brand from their mobile device, they want to do it via an app.

In light of the well-established fact that an app in itself embodies a unique distribution channel, it is rather disconcerting that many of today’s leading retailers’ and brands’ apps exhibit dismal ratings in the app store. Ratings are important because they feed back the opinions of users who care, and also signal the quality of the app to customers who are thinking about downloading the app. A page of gloomy reviews can have unfavourable effects on app downloads and is also likely to negatively prime first-time users.

We’re living in an omni-channel world where the second screen is becoming the primary screen, so it’s no surprise that users have become increasingly vocal about their exasperations. If you visit the app store, chances are that it won’t take long until you encounter reviews written by disgruntled users who have taken their frustrations to the street.

A bad app experience doesn’t just aggravate. It also generates unfavourable word-of-mouth, damages brand credibility, and plays customers into the hands of the competition. So how can frustrations be kept to a minimum?

We dedicate a lot of resources to research around ways of improving our clients’ apps. We’ve picked out some negative reviews to highlight three of the biggest pain points that antagonise users, and provided some tips for how to minimise them:

1. Crashes and Lack of Updates

Apps that aren’t regularly updated get old very fast.

Solution: For the Poq platform we have deployed Crashlytics across all our apps. The SaaS tool is used by some of the most well-established apps out there, including Paypal and OpenTable. It tests the app for crashes in real time and delivers reports about them, making it easier to find the source of the problem and fix it.

Continuous improvement is also key. Operating systems update regularly so it’s important to keep up. We roll out new code weekly and release system updates quarterly. The nature of our cloud platform allows us to update all of our clients’ apps simultaneously, without any work having to be done from their side.


2. Old Merchandise

Let’s face it: No one wants to see last season’s chunky christmas sweaters in their product feed.

Solution: The merchandise available on an app should be synced with the e-commerce platform and, ideally, also with real time in-store stock. This is achieved most efficiently through API integrations that create a bridge between the app and any existing platforms, databases, and partner technologies. Such integrations allow for product information to be ‘fed’ from the existing online e-commerce platform to the app in real-time, ensuring that merchandise is always synchronised between the store, the website, and the app.

API integrations are awesome. They work using plugins, which are like sockets that allow third party software to be ‘plugged’ in. They can be used to integrate much more than just merchandise information: they are also great for introducing analytics, payment solutions and other technology such as sizing solutions and beacon tech to an app.

If you don’t have an API, you can use a feed integration for syncing product content. This is also commonly used for affiliate schemes and Google Shopping. It won’t update your stock in real-time, and feed integrations take longer to update – so make sure to update at least once a day.


3. Bugs

If they can’t use it, they’ll stop using it.


Solution: TestFlight is ideal for finding bugs in your app. The entire app code can be run through it, and it will detect and highlight errors in the code. This makes it possible to test the app for bugs before it goes live, thereby minimising the chance of customers finding the bugs before you do.

As part of our service we provide to our clients, we have started testing apps on TestFlight and the results have been very beneficial, especially in the pre-launch phase. Our customer support team also turns around severe bugs found in live apps within hours. And bug fixes don’t just benefit one client – bug fixes take place on the platform, thereby benefitting all apps that are built on it.


Silver Lining

Not all reviews are negative, and not all negative reviews are frosty. A lot of customers like to give constructive feedback, making the app store a great source for tips around improving the app experience.


It’s also important to remember: Though bad reviews can damage reputation and deter others from downloading the app, users do appreciate improvements and give second chances.



And if you’ve provided a great experience, the app store will also let you know.