The App Store currently houses fake apps for Big Lots, Dollar Tree, Pandora, Payless, and more, and the list is growing.UPDATE: Apple removed some fake app offenders from the App Store that are pictured below. Check out where this story has been covered:
- New York Times: Beware, iPhone Users: Fake Retail Apps Are Surging Before Holidays, Daily Report: More Fake Retail Apps Means More Users Are at Risk, It Should Be Obvious That Céline Didn’t Make an App
- Fortune: How Fake Retail Apps Are Targeting iPhones This Holiday Season
- RetailDIVE: Study: Fake retailer apps bedevil mobile shoppers
- Mashable: Be extra cautious about what apps you're downloading this holiday season
- 9to5Mac: Hundreds of counterfeit branded shopping apps hit the App Store ahead of holiday season
- Fast Company: Hundreds of fake retailer apps have flooded the App Store just in time for the holidays
- New York Post: Fake shopping apps are invading the iPhone, How to tell app impostors from the real thing
Apple, we have a problem.
There’s an unsettling trend that’s happening in the App Store, and it’s targeting the retail industry and everyone involved, including shoppers.
Recently, there’s been a surge of fake apps parading around as real retailers and ruining the reputation that brands have established. Even worse, some developers are using Apple Search Ads to promote the unverified shopping apps.
According to the Branding Brand Index (BBI), 2 in 3 retailers don’t have an iOS or Android app, leaving plenty of opportunities for others to represent them in the app stores.
Who’s directly affected?
This can happen to any retailer at any time, and those who are choosing not to build apps, are quickly finding that if they don't, someone else will. Currently, imitation apps appear in the App Store for New Balance, Nike, Pandora, UGG, Coach, and many others. Retailers, like Dillard’s and Dollar Tree, are seeing backlash from their loyal customers trying to download what they believe is the brand’s official app.
The fake Dillard's app uses the retailer's branding and site content to make the mobile app look real.
One of the 1-star reviews reads:
"Ads? Really? I can't even browse without an ad popping up every other click. It's ridiculous. You'd think this is some low end app made by a teenager to make some cash. Come on Dillard's. You can do better."
Unaware that these are not real apps, shoppers don't understand why their favorite retailers are leaving them feeling disappointed, confused, and angry.
An imposter Big Lots app is promoted when searching "Dollar Tree," and the first organic result is a fake app.
These imposter apps are also appearing in Search Ads for both generic and branded keywords. For example, the imitation Big Lots app appears when searching for Dollar Tree, giving the illusion that these apps are the real deal.
Not only are retailers compromised by copycat apps, but their integrity is also at risk by the app developers using their brand name, like Nordstrom Outlets and Zappos Retail, Inc.
How does this affect shoppers?
86% say they download shopping apps at least once a month to purchase products. However, shoppers are quickly finding that not every app will let them accomplish this simple task.
According to the New York Post, one shopper nearly lost $200 trying to purchase from the fake Dillard's app, but payment was rejected.
Many complain that they can’t navigate these apps due to relentless pop-up ads, which is making them feel frustrated and averse to the retailer.
How is this happening?
Due to Android’s lax stance on app submissions, unverified apps used to be an Android-only problem, but times have changed.
In the past, Apple’s thorough review process has made it difficult for fake apps to fall through the cracks and get into the store, but spammy apps started to slip through the cracks in September.
Although there’s little indication of what these app developers hope to achieve by impersonating other brands, it’s costing retailers their relationships with customers. It seems inevitable that app stores will need to follow the example of popular social networks and verify both developer accounts and their apps.
What does this mean for retailers?
Apps are no longer optional. Shoppers prefer apps over websites because they’re faster and more convenient, so you can expect that shoppers will turn to apps to purchase gifts during the biggest shopping season of the year.
As the holidays approach, it’s more important than ever to represent yourself because if you’re not, someone else will. It’s the only way to deliver the experience your customers both want and deserve.
- Related Post: How Shoppers can Spot a Fake App Before It's too Late
Branding Brand is the retail industry's leading omnichannel commerce platform, powering mobile apps, sites, and in-store shopping experiences for over 200 enterprise brands. In addition to being named a Gartner "Cool Vendor" of apps, the Company is also the 2016 Forrester Wave Leader in "Mobile Commerce and Engagement Platforms."