How Mobile Apps Are Helping Retail Businesses Succeed
With retail giants like Wal-Mart acquiring e-commerce companies like Jet.com to the tune of nearly $3 billion, it's clear that retail and the digital age have blended like never before. Wal-Mart is planning to use Jet.com's resources partially to enhance its service to customers who use the Wal-Mart app.
Savvy businesses will take a page out of Wal-Mart’s book by bolstering their mobile apps. Here are just a few of the ways mobile apps continue to help retail businesses succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Unique Customer Relationships
Apps grant retailers a unique relationship with the customer. One of the greatest benefits of creating a compelling app is that customers interact with your brand in new and engaging ways. The mere fact a customer chooses to download your app gives a retail business a significant advantage over competitors with a shoddy app (or competitors that lack an app altogether). Why? Research shows that consumers are extremely selective about the retailer apps they will download and use.
According to data from RetailMeNot, 60 percent of consumers who use a smartphone to shop online have fewer than two retailer-specific apps on their phone. In effect, retailers have the chance to effectively gain customers’ undivided attention when they shop on their phone. This benefit couldn't be more important since more consumers are now treating their smartphone as a preferred method of shopping.
Make Shopping Easier
Smartphones are increasingly relied on for customers’ shopping needs. For plenty of consumers, smartphones are now the first screen they use when browsing the internet. Consumers use smartphones for their shopping needs in many varying contexts, such as shopping in-store; browsing product reviews in bed; researching products while commuting; and much more.
Retailers simply must account for this change in shopper mentality since anyone can become a customer from the comfort of his or her smartphone. A sophisticated and customer-friendly app is a great way for retailers to entice a potential customer to be receptive to their brand message. There are a number of ways a retailer can make shopping easier via an app, including:
- providing customer reviews on products;
- making coupon redemption possible via the app;
- offering store location data;
- advertising in-store promotions and events; and
- enabling users to check order statuses and shipping updates.
Ease of Use
In a busy 21st Century world, customers don't have time to wait for unresponsive websites or dawdle through a burdensome payment process. Apps streamline these essential e-commerce processes. With a quality app, payment information can be saved securely, and a single fingertip is able to effortlessly make a purchase.
Similarly, letting customers opt in to push notifications lets them receive valuable information and offers from your brand on a device they carry with them at almost all times. Even better, the opt-in nature of push notifications gives customers a sense of empowerment regarding the marketing they receive. This is a huge benefit that shouldn't be taken for granted since apps that fail to meet a customer's expectations will be quickly deleted.
As such, every aspect of the app needs to be fast, responsive and easy to use. Additionally, apps should be beautifully designed and engage the eye. Do this, and you'll reap the many benefits offered by a mobile app.
Spending time creating a quality app results in customers spending more time with your brand. While plenty of retailers understand the benefits of having an app, some may question whether the time and resources spent on developing an app is truly worthwhile. In a word, absolutely.
Apps now generate nearly half of all mobile sales for savvy retailers, and even better, app users spend an average of 201.8 minutes per month inside a retail app, while mobile site visitors spend only 10.9 minutes per month. On average, nearly 200 extra minutes of a customer's undivided attention each month is earned by brands with a retail app.
These figures translate to more opportunities for your brand to earn sales, and fewer opportunities for competitors. In the cutthroat world of retail, the data speaks for itself. Savvy retailers cannot afford to ignore the benefit of a mobile app any longer.
Chris Pautsch is founder and CEO of KeyLimeTie, a full-service design, development and digital strategy agency.