Apple’s App Push
The recent update of iOS14 and subsequent release of the iPhone 12 has made 2020 a huge year for mobile. Changes to the operating system signify Apple's intention to be “app-first,” and the release of a 5G phone has made connecting online using mobile more seamless than ever. Retail is among several key industries set to benefit from these new updates. In parallel to this, the coronavirus pandemic has seen retailers rush online to maintain a stake in the game as consumers stay indoors. In 2020, e-commerce is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Retailers need to be looking to mobile — in particular, apps — to engage consumers.
iOS14 brings with it some major changes for the app world. "App clips" will enable users to download small parts of an app to easily access what they need without the need for a full download. "Portable apps" will mean that MacBooks and iPhones will now use the same processing systems, enabling users to interact with apps across a variety of touchpoints in the Apple ecosystem. And a brand new app library has redesigned home screens, giving users more creative freedom over their apps. Furthermore, it utilizes an algorithm to personalize users’ phones, suggesting relevant apps for relevant times.
And it’s not only Apple that's gravitating towards a new app-first environment. Android and Google have also been heading this way for a while. Research indicates that over 90 percent of user time spent on a mobile device is spent within apps. Therefore, the best way for retailers to maximize their mobile investments is to make sure they have a strong app strategy in place.
Unlike the world of online shopping, a retailer’s app is a place where brands can interact with consumers one-on-one in a tailor-made, online world comparable to that of a storefront. Apps give retailers the ability to curate unique collections for the user, share brand-owned content, and execute loyalty schemes that keep users engaged and revisiting time and again. Updated technology from both Apple and Android also makes apps the perfect place to experiment with creating unique experiences for the user — the kind of things which, in 2020, consumers are missing from their interactions with the physical store.
Augmented reality (AR) is one of the many ways that retailers have been using advancements in tech to engage users, creating try-before-you-buy experiences in the customer’s own home. A particularly exciting development for retailers on this front is Apple’s refinement of the LIDAR sensor, which will enable AR improvements that could in turn benefit retailers with the ability to easily capture 3D models of their stock. Once this stock has been captured, users will be able to see true-to-size prototypes of what they wish to order in their own environment.
The improved front camera on the iPhone will greatly benefit the features that use filters to try on products, giving consumers a more reliable, realistic impression of the product they're set to invest in. Apps that can provide shoppers with practical solutions to the current outdoor retail situation can help curry even greater brand favor as customers receive a product in real life they had once engaged with virtually from the comfort of their own home.
As the digital-first future comes at us fast, improvements in home tech have made connecting with one another much easier. Brands and retailers must keep a keen eye on technology updates and stay ahead of trends to keep their online presence up-to-date and engaging for their audiences. Mobile is an ideal way to stay top of mind with consumers, who may not be able to visit in-store but can instead now carry stores with them in their pockets.
Jay Johnston is the chief technology officer at Poq, the app commerce company.