At Codecheck, we* have successfully personalized the mobile app and thereby increased its usage and reach considerably. Here are five ideas how personalization can improve your app and how you can implement it step by step.

The Codecheck app scans a barcode and tells consumers how healthy and environmentally friendly the food or personal care product is. Furthermore, it proposes better alternative products or helps consumers find the most suitable product for their needs (e.g. an all-natural deodorant without aluminum).

Some product categories contain a huge number of products, e.g. there are 12,000 shampoos. As impressive as it might sound, it’s overwhelming for users. To improve the app, we’ve modified the sorting order in product categories, applying personal information the app knows about the user. Now products far more relevant for the user appeared at the top of the category, and the usage of the category screen increased sustainably.

⇒ Personalization increases an app’s usefulness

For the first level of personalization, the user doesn’t need to enter any information. The Codecheck app uses the IP address and localization settings to determine the user’s country. It uses the information to boost products available in the user’s country – either in a physical store nearby or from an online shop. A sun blocker is just not relevant for consumers if it cannot be purchased easily – as healthy as it might be. This level of personalization could be reached with a small implementation effort as there was no need to add any new user interface such as a profile screen or a guided introduction.

⇒ Personalization can be started with a small effort

As the next level, we introduced personalized warnings for people with gluten or lactose intolerance. To that end, we added a profile screen and an intro shown when the app is started the first time. The user doesn’t need to register or login. As the mobile phone is a personal device not shared with other people, the profile can simply be stored on the device. Logging in with Google or Facebook seems like a simple and convenient step. But for many Codecheck users who have a rather critical attitude in general it would be a hurdle they wouldn’t take.

⇒ Personalization works without login and registration

A user with a gluten intolerance doesn’t care about the non-allergy aspects of gluten-containing food product as she can’t eat it anyway. Right? This assumption turned out to be wrong because she might be shopping for the whole family and therefore buy gluten-containing products too. For some apps, you’ll need to consider the use cases in a family context. We simply solved it by displaying both the gluten warning and the regular health and environment rating.

⇒ The focus of personalization can be a family instead of a single person

In order to become a useful guide for your daily shopping, Codecheck is likely to extend the features for families. Users will be able to add profiles for each family member so that the app knows that Thomas, the father, has a lactose intolerance, Iris, the mother, is currently pregnant and should avoid food such as products containing raw milk, and Michael, the son, is still a baby.

⇒ Personalization for the family might tap an app’s hidden potential

Personalization has considerably and sustainably increased the app’s attractiveness and grown its user base accordingly. Its implementation was easier than expected at the onset. We were able to add it step by step and without a major app redesign.

* Manuel Bleichenbacher was the CTO of Codecheck from 2014 to 2016. Today he consults Acrea’s customers in shaping digitalization and taking full advantage of it.