The Magic Ingredients to a Successful App
With 51 percent of mobile users utilizing apps while shopping in-store, retailers have an opportunity to impact consumers and turn them into loyal customers right where they're already engaging — on their smartphones. Hundreds of apps are available to download, but the ones that will remain in the marketplace are those that leverage a user’s daily routine, as recently stated in comScore’s 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report.
Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts stand out as great examples due to their ability to capitalize on their customers daily habit of buying coffee. In addition, Wal-Mart, Target and Kohl's have also found success with their apps by rewarding their most frequent customers with in-store coupons and savings features while they shop. Although they all stem from simple concepts, these apps shine at delivering convenience and value, making them an integral part of their customers’ shopping experiences.
So how can other retailers develop successful mobile apps? First, they must analyze their current mobile marketing goals and look at the two options available: a branded app or a universal app. Both options provide consumers with a single, mobile-centric source for information. A branded app is specific to one retailer, while a universal app encompasses a group of participating retailers. Through an app, brands and retailers not only serve as an all-in-one resource, but valuable data collected over time will allow them to push out more relevant and personalized content, making the shopping experience more positive, engaging and unique to each visitor who walks through their door.
A branded app gives the retailer complete control over the experience, look and feel of the app, as it’s developed by an internal team at the company. This can prove to be a great success, like Starbucks, or end up costing the company an immense amount of time and money with little return. To minimize this risk, retailers can also take part in a universal app solution by working with a third party to host their own branded microsite (with similar capabilities to the branded app), all within an already established universal app that houses a network of retailers.
To be successful in either approach, two key ingredients must be considered:
A recent study by Bank of America revealed that 71 percent of the respondents sleep with or next to their mobile phones. This just confirms what we all already know — using smartphones is personal! With that being said, consumers don’t want to feel like using a retailer’s mobile app is purely a business transaction, as this can hinder the overall shopping experience. Instead, businesses should combine and analyze the data collected about their shoppers to get a better understanding of their buying behavior. Data such as consumer traffic figures with point-of-sale information, marketing activity, average transaction values, conversion rates and return visits can help businesses build a comprehensive customer profile. This info enables retailers to focus on the “Three R’s” — delivering the right shopper insights to the right decision maker at the right moment — leaving the consumer with a highly personalized and unique shopping experience.
From offering deals for items that are already in a shopping cart to customized store maps based on a shopping list, the ease and convenience that a mobile app can offer to shoppers is limitless. Smartphones put power in the hands of consumers by enabling them to find information on any product from any retailer right at their fingertips. With all this information so easily accessible, businesses need to ensure that their apps are delivering this exact information just as readily. Otherwise, consumers will simply open their smartphone’s internet browser to search for themselves, and in worst-case scenarios they may even remove your app from their device if it lacks this kind of usefulness.
Retailers that can achieve personalization and convenience, while assisting in a consumer’s daily routine, are sure to see an increase in app adoption, brand loyalty and engagement. Mobility has changed the retail industry forever, and for retailers to truly find success, they must invest in their customers’ shopping experiences and find new ways to consistently engage with them over time.
Andrew Levi is the founder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Blue Calypso, a developer of patented mobile consumer engagement solutions.