In today's world, it's a foregone conclusion that the average shopper brings a smartphone into a brick-and-mortar establishment while shopping. Catering to this reality, savvy businesses have developed mobile apps that enhance and improve the shopping experience in meaningful ways. While it may seem as if retail and mobile aren't a natural fit, the data begs to differ. This year’s mobile sales on Cyber Monday totaled $1.07 billion, a 34 percent year-over-year increase.
Of course, not all apps are created equal. Despite the best of intentions, some mobile apps won't resonate with shoppers in the ways a business intended. Apps drive nearly half of the mobile sales for retailers that make their app experience a priority, so retailers certainly have the data-driven analysis needed to improve an app that's not providing effective results.
In order to improve a mobile app and, by extension, the customer shopping experience, businesses must understand what shoppers look for in a mobile app. Here are five ways a retailer can take the steps needed to do just that:
1. Customers want technology to overhaul an in-store experience: Technology in a mobile app ought to help a user shop in a way that would be impossible without the app. One great example of this is providing barcode scanning and inventory checks within the app. Few shoppers enjoy searching for an employee to ask for a simple price point or inventory update.
Worse, if an employee comes back with bad news, a shopper just wasted a significant part of his or her day. With a mobile app, shoppers can quickly check if an item is available at their preferred store location. Furthermore, in-store shoppers will be able to get immediate price and inventory updates from the convenience and comfort of their phone.
Incorporating features like these into an app help to ensure technology removes needless barriers to a good shopping experience.
2. Shoppers enjoy good deals, accessed conveniently: With a mobile app, it's possible to say goodbye to the days of bringing in clipped out coupons to get a good deal. Mobile apps offer the capability of offering coupons and deals that can be easily scanned by a barcode at checkout.
Shoppers love a good deal, but a good deal becomes a great one when it's conveniently accessed via phone. Compare this form of deal shopping with leaving a coupon on the kitchen table at home, and it's no contest.
3. People prefer a quick, user-driven assessment of a product's quality: Product reviews from customers are a great way for shoppers to get reliable information about a product's quality. The popularity of reviews on websites like Amazon.com alone speak to this fact.
If your app provides customer reviews and ratings for products, shoppers may be more inclined to make a purchase. When shoppers are on the fence about a purchase, positive feedback from fellow customers can serve as the last incentive needed to turn a "maybe" into a purchase.
4. Customers want a better experience than a mobile website can offer: One of the primary reasons shoppers turn to an app instead of a mobile website is the enhanced response times and functionality. A recent RetailMeNot survey revealed that 63 percent of respondents cited the enhanced convenience, faster performance, stored user settings and app rewards as reasons why mobile apps are superior to mobile websites.
5. Customers want their loyalty valued: Customers who download a brand's app have already demonstrated they value the company's products. These are the kind of customers brands can rely on to grow business. However, customers want their loyalty valued in return.
Tapping into this desire is as simple as incorporating quality rewards programs or special sales available through the app. Similarly, starting a loyalty program is a great way to drive engagement through the app between the shopper and retailer.
Best of all, the data gathered can be used to send valuable offers and targeted push notifications once shoppers opt to receive them. Combining these sorts of strategies will be of immense value to both the shopper and retailer, making mobile apps a true win-win situation for all parties involved.
Drew Johnson is co-founder and co-CEO of App Partner, a Brooklyn-based mobile agency.