By Samir Addamine, FollowAnalytics
If you’re going to succeed in e-Commerce, you need a mobile app — that’s a fact. While some retailers might find themselves daunted at the challenge of developing and building an app that’s easy to use, integrates with other channels and is available in multiple app stores, that doesn’t change the fact that they’ve become a critical part of the overall customer journey.
Here are just a few reasons why every retailer should have a mobile app:
They allow customers to interact with the brand, even when on the go: People value convenience — that’s one of the major reasons that the e-Commerce movement has been successful. And what’s more convenient than a mobile app that allows you to browse products, check prices and purchase goods no matter where you are? More sophisticated apps might also send out push notifications if someone nears a retail store, and offer discounts or promotions to entice them in. Nevertheless, no matter how advanced they are, mobile apps offer convenience to the modern shopper.
Mobile apps keep the brand top-of-mind: Having your app downloaded to someone’s home screen essentially ensures that your brand will remain visible to that person on a near-daily basis. Just think of the number of times a person looks at their home screen, whether it’s to check their emails or share a picture on social media. As Adam Blacker, the VP of Insights and Global Alliances for Apptopia, points out, “When a company’s app is installed, it now owns a piece of real estate on a consumer’s most personal belonging.” Even if that person isn’t thinking about shopping at that moment, they’ll still see your icon and think of your brand.
People spend more time using apps than on the mobile web: According to eMarketer, American spend 86% of their time on mobile phones using apps. So for retailers looking to beef up their mobile presence, it’s better to spend your resources on developing a mobile app that will keep users engaged, instead of creating a souped-up mobile version of your web site. This is not to say that retailers should ignore mobile web completely, but rather to note that a mobile app offers greater opportunities to cultivate brand loyalty and increase revenue. In fact, eMarketer’s report shows that Millennials and Gen Xers — both valuable demographics for retailers — prefer to use mobile apps to shop when on their phones. Given that, in 2020, nearly half (49%) of all e-Commerce revenue is expected to come from mobile sales, brands that choose not to develop an app are at a severe disadvantage when reaching target audiences.
More people are downloading — and using — retail apps than ever before: According to a 2018 study conducted by Synchrony, people are using twice as many retail apps as they have in the past. Not only that, but the study also reports that there has been a corresponding increase in the purchase activity conducted using these apps, as well as the overall satisfaction level with their user experiences. While not an exact correlation, one could make the argument that having a better user experience plays a large role in determining whether a person makes an in-app purchase, and how often. It also encourages people to keep the app on their phone, as opposed to deleting it in a fit of pique.
Apps allow brands to create deeper connections with customers: Mobile apps do not merely give companies the opportunity to find new ways of getting people to shop. They also make it easier to provide customized advertising and purchasing experiences, which keeps people coming back. For instance, brands could use data from past purchases to infer what products a customer might be interested in buying, and offer discounts to encourage the sale. Or they could include augmented reality tools that allow people to “try on” a product before they purchase. By making the process as engaging as possible, brands can encourage people to spend more time on the app, which could then lead to increased sales.
It should be noted that while it’s become increasingly common for brands to offer some type of mobile experience (AR, personalized recommendations, etc.) to users, these types of customizations can be expensive to develop and difficult to build — which is why it is important for them to find tools that will allow them to include these services without incurring exorbitant costs or disrupting the user experience.
As you can see, there are a great many advantages to be had for retailers that choose to develop a mobile app. But at the same time, brands should beware of creating a shoddy product, as it can have the effect of turning away people who might otherwise have become regular customers. Nor should brands feel they have to pay millions of dollars in order to catch up to everyone else. As long as you have a product that’s capable of giving people a positive experience and the option to buy the things they want, you’re in a prime position for the future.
Samir Addamine is Founder and Chairman of FollowAnalytics, which provides mobile automation, analytics and optimization services to retailers and other companies. Addamine is a serial entrepreneur driving innovation in the mobile apps industry. Prior to founding FollowAnalytics he was a senior executive at Framfab, part of Publicis, where he built mobile apps and developed mobile strategies for enterprise companies, as well as a founder of mobile agency Clicmobile. At FollowAnalytics, Addamine has overseen the company’s inclusion in Gartner’s first Magic Quadrant report on mobile marketing platforms, as well as the development of the company’s mobile data wallet and new mobile app development platform.