Mobile apps can draw attention but also mixed results

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Marine retailers that are considering creating their own mobile app might find the experience of a Boston-based store owner enlightening.

In the summer of 2010 Sheri Gurock, co-founder of Magic Beans, decided to join the mobile app craze because she was offered the app at no charge by becoming a testing ground.

Gurock launched an app that allowed in-store customers to bypass cash registers and check out their purchases themselves on their mobile devices, according to the New York Times. The store specializes in toys and baby gear.

The app also allowed customers to scan a bar code to get product information, descriptions and reviews. When a customer bought an item using AisleBuyer, the app would automatically recommend two related products in the store and offer discounts and coupons.

That resulted in an 8 percent increase in sales to those who used the app, but just 5 percent of customers have used it, Gurock told the paper. As a result, she said, Magic Beans was phasing out AisleBuyer, but she planned to try again with a different app.

By the end of this year the number of smart devices globally will exceed people, Cisco reported. That puts growing pressure on small businesses to create and publish their own apps.

Click here for the New York Times guide to app creation.

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