A decade ago, shoppers typically made purchases in a pretty straightforward manner.  They either went online, browsed a catalog, or walked into a physical store. People interacted with the different channels independently. With the rise of mobile technology and retail apps however, the shopping experience has changed quite a lot.

What’s different today is that shopping has become an omnichannel experience. 6 of 10 online purchases start on one device but continue or finish elsewhere. 82% of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store. They assess product information, they compare prices, they search product reviews and endorsements and then make decisions.

More than 2 billion people globally use their smartphones every day and 46% of those have used their phone to make in-store buying decisions. Hundreds of brands have already identified the opportunity and have deployed retail apps.

A Website Isn't Enough Anymore

In recent years it has become clear that mobile apps for retail are better able to engage customers than websites and generate higher revenues than websites. According to a Criteo report, native retail apps generate 66% of all mobile commerce revenue, twice as much revenue as mobile websites. Native retail apps generate 90% higher add-to-basket rate and 120% higher conversion rate compared with mobile websites.

Consumers prefer apps over mobile sites because of the enhanced user experience, greater speed,  superior features and intelligence based offers. This is especially true for Millennials.

In this mobile-fueled shopping landscape, the retailers that thrive most harness the opportunity to be there and be useful for shoppers in those intent-rich moments when people open their smartphones to know, go, or buy.

Reasons To Develop a Retail App

So we see why mobile apps are so important for the retail sector, but what benefits can your retail business derive using this technology?

boost conversion

1. Boost Your Conversion

Mobile interaction, through smartphones and tablets, is core to our lifestyle. Our eyes are glued to these devices that offer us almost whatever we want, anytime and anywhere. Retail marketers should meet people where they are and position their brand and product where their audience exists in the mobile world. This is the key to driving positive conversions.

  • Mobile retail sales are predicted to exceed 2,910 million USD in 2020.
  • 88% of customers who download retail mobile apps actually use them.
  • Mobile purchasing volumes have increased by a factor of 6x over last year.
  • 62% of shoppers while in store will use the store’s mobile app to assist purchasing decisions.

2. Be up-to-date

Many medium-sized businesses, and even some small retailers, already have a branded app or are about to release one. They understand the need to adopt new technology as early as possible to remain relevant in the rapidly evolving retail space.

Uncomfortable though it may seem, as buyers move to mobile, sellers must choose whether they are going to lead them, follow them or simply lose them. The leaders will be the biggest winners. Followers may survive, particularly in niche or specialist markets. But those who simply hope that this will all just go away, well that may not work out for the best.

brand loyalty

3. Build brand loyalty

Retail apps do not only serve in achieving certain financial goals but in building brand loyalty as well. Many businesses develop their apps for this purpose. For generations, retailers have used loyalty programs to reward their most active clients.

Mobile apps are powerful tools in understanding what rewards are relevant to who, when the optimal time is to deliver the offer and in putting the message into the customers hand in the most compelling way.

Couponing is an example of traditional loyalty programming that can be replicated or enhanced through an app. Coupons can be automatically triggered through an app to customers who haven’t purchased in a while or to customers who refer another for example.

Apps can manage couponing initiatives in much more sophisticated ways though. Apps can ‘learn’ what types of loyalty offerings work best for certain audiences. They can then target meaningful offers to specific groups at the right time, maximizing the value to the customer and the associated loyalty earned by the business.

But maybe the most engaging way of building brand loyalty is through gamification. Who wouldn’t like to earn rewards for playing games?? Just see the Starbucks app for an example. Users collect stars and win instant prizes through game play. Customers can also earn additional stars by purchasing through the app. Stars can then be exchanged for a variety of products.

in-store experience

4. Better In-Store Experience

Retail mobile apps open the shop doors to hundreds of thousands of potential customers. But not only for online shopping! As discussed above, shoppers are becoming increasingly omnichannel. More than half use mobile applications while purchasing stuff in physical stores.

So if you think that your app and physical store are separate entities, think again! Each can be used in support of the other.

We live in a very fast world,…we are always in a hurry. One very useful feature for many customers to implement for a better user experience would be the ability to order and pay for goods on-the-go from the app and then collect them in-store without wasting time on checkout lines. Many companies, like the aforementioned Starbucks, managed to increase its revenue after the introduction of this feature.

As buyers crave to know as much as possible about a product before buying it (especially for higher category goods and special items), they often go to their smartphones to look for datasheets, benefits, ratings, reviews, endorsements etc.

It is impractical to position all of this information on your shelves. So what could you do?

By adding a QR-code scanner to your retail app and the QR codes themselves to the shelves, you can provide the option for your customers to conveniently access all the product data to facilitate buying decisions.

Beacon technology provides an additional opportunity to engage customers in-store via the app. When an app user approaches a store, or a point within a store, a beacon that detects the proximity of the user’s smartphone can trigger the app to perform some preset action.

The app could, for example, welcome the customer to the store, provide a limited time voucher for a product that the user has reviewed previously through the app, an in-store discount for an accompanying friend for downloading the app, an invitation to collect a free sample etc.

Conclusion

Retailers can no longer afford to ignore advances in technology, given that the way in which customers review, select and purchase products is evolving fundamentally. Mobile apps are at the forefront of this evolution and represent a major opportunity for retailers to win in today’s omnichannel retail environment.

In this article, we examined some of the characteristics of the changing market and, hopefully, offered some solid examples of how mobile can be embraced and harnassed to drive success in retail.

Appify is a leading retail app development and mobile consultancy agency. Our team has extensive expertise in retail mobile app development.

So, if you are ready to grow your business with a fantastic brand new retail app, don’t hesitate to contact us without obligations. Our experts are always happy to help you with a free initial consultation!