As the summer winds down and parents start preparing their kids for the new school year, retailers are looking for the best ways to give their customers the most convenient and seamless back-to-school (BTS) shopping experiences. While we know that in-store and online continue to be key retail channels, we also know that mobile shoppers are currently the fastest-growing consumer population. In fact, 66 percent of mobile purchases were made through apps last year, and according to Forrester Analytics, U.S. shoppers are expected to make $118 billion in retail purchases via their smartphones in 2018.
With this information in hand, retailers simply cannot ignore the fact that smartphones aren’t only everywhere, but also in the hands of their target demographic. This makes a mobile shopping channel a crucial asset to converting significant sales. Mobile apps are the key to optimizing retailers’ BTS business and beyond. Why? Because they provide unparalleled access to shoppers that drive engagement and retention.
Mobile Apps Get an ‘A+’ in Customer Engagement
We live in a fast-paced, always “on the go” world where time constantly seems to be a commodity. For retailers trying to reach their target audiences during BTS season, mobile apps are a great channel for instant customer communication. Push notifications are the key to making that happen. By sending brief messages to a customer’s screen, retailers can inform them of new products, upcoming sales promo codes and more. This engagement strategy drives more curiosity, which can lead shoppers to open the app and experience easy-to-use navigation, simple search, camera-enabled scanners and one-touch payments. These are all features that desktop and mobile websites are simply not capable of providing to BTS shoppers.
KicksUSA, an urban footwear and apparel provider, is one retailer that's using push notifications to keeps its customers — typically sneaker enthusiasts — updated on release news and special offers. By using thoughtful and relevant push notification campaigns, KicksUSA has reported a 75 percent average lift in conversion rate per campaign, and a 78 percent push enablement rate.
Today’s Lesson: Mobile Apps Are a Leading Retention Tool
Automated push notifications allow retailers to effortlessly reach out and touch their customers who need a little, excuse the pun, push. Retailers can schedule push notifications with a variety of messages to shoppers. These could include a reminder to finish purchasing items they left in their cart, or an incentive to users who haven’t opened the app in a while. You can also thank customers for completing purchases and encourage them to visit the app again with a small discount or free shipping on their next purchase.
It’s important for retailers to keep giving their customers reasons to come back for more. After all, the mobile app is a tool that simplifies customer engagement and retention with key marketing features that are simply not available when the browser is closed on desktop and mobile sites.
During the BTS shopping frenzy, these mobile app features can help retailers differentiate themselves from competitors and incentivize their customers to keep coming back even after the first week of school to replace a missing water bottle or broken crayons. Remarkable mobile experiences that boost customer loyalty are no longer just a dream; they're now the expectation.
Casey Gannon is vice president of marketing at Shopgate, a mobile commerce platform.
Related story: Mobile Shoppers’ Top 5 Demands of E-Commerce Brands