As recently as 2015, most U.S. consumers had no idea if their favorite retailer had a mobile app. Now, according to a survey we conducted at Localytics, nearly 49 percent of those polled said “shopping by apps” is a primary reason they use their smartphones.
The survey collected responses from 1,000 U.S. smartphone users, of which 487 said “shopping via apps” is a primary reason for smartphone usage. There was a fairly even split among women (267) and men (220), as well as a fairly even split in age range.
Consumers clearly have grown tired of navigating through browsers while be chased by remarketing ads. They want something more immediate and personal — something like an app. Therefore, in our survey, we asked questions about how shoppers are currently using retailers’ apps to make purchases, and what they want more of from them.
What Do Consumers Want From Shopping Apps?
Consumers want retailers to use their purchase history before and after the moment of their last purchase to help them.
According to our survey, 48 percent of mobile app users said they made a purchase in-store as a result of receiving a personalized push notification. (In the survey, we defined a “personalized push notification” as a message customized to a user’s profile, interests, and previous shopping or browsing history.)
When we asked which type of messages positively influenced people’s view of a retail brand, we found 62 percent favored a message based on a previous purchase they made.
Location-based notifications were perceived as far less important to consumers than notifications that recognized, capitalized and rewarded each person’s buying history. When we asked if a location-based push notification had influenced their decision to make an in-store purchase, 64 percent said no.
As far as which messages positively influenced their view of a retail brand, location-based messages performed poorly (20 percent), only slightly beating “a message completely out of the blue” (18 percent).
Negative Feelings Persist When it Comes to Remarketing
Our respondents found a vast difference between the positive feelings associated with push notifications based on individual purchase histories and remarketing. We defined remarketing to our respondents as "You view a product online or in a mobile app → You get an offer for that product in your email inbox or via push notification → You see an ad in your social media feed about that product."
Fifty-nine percent of the people polled felt “big brothered,” nervous, harassed or annoyed by ads that followed them around the internet, with only 41 percent feeling like they were being properly targeted or happy about the experience.
Takeaways for Retailers With Mobile Apps
While the face of retail has changed, customers want to be known by the brands they purchase from. They want to be assisted before and after a purchase. They don’t appreciate being anonymously marketed to, with the retailer ignoring the money that the customer has spent.
- A mobile app with push notifications that employ purchase histories can take the place of a knowledgeable, authentic and caring employee who knows his or her customers.
- Send follow-up messages to customers. Sixty-two percent of people view a brand more positively when messaged after making a purchase.
- Use remarketing sparingly. Remarketing to people who only view a product once can taint your brand, as 59 percent of our respondents perceived this behavior as a creepy form of internet surveillance bordering on harassment.
Kristin Cronin is the director of marketing communications at Localytics, a mobile engagement platform for mobile and web apps.
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