Do retailers really need mobile apps? To put it simply, yes. For retailers, mobile traffic has reached the tipping point and is now exceeding desktop traffic. Nearly two-thirds of all retail traffic is coming from mobile devices, and the conversion rate is highest on mobile apps. In fact, according to data from Criteo, in Q4 of 2017, mobile sales made up the majority of total e-commerce for retailers that have successful shopping apps.
But before running out and hiring a developer to slap together a mobile app, it is important to understand the factors that will make an app worthwhile and successful.
The Number One Rule For Retail Mobile Apps
While the facts back it up that retailers stand to benefit from a mobile app, the key to success lies in one simple rule: the app must add value for the customer. Going mobile just for the sake of having an app could potentially fracture customer relationships.
Think about the mobile apps that you, personally use every day. They add some form of value to your life. There are apps that deliver convenience like banking apps that allow you to deposit checks using your phone. There are apps that connect you to the people you love and things that interest you like Facebook and Instagram. There are apps that save you time, save you money, teach you new things, entertain you, etc. Apps that don’t add value to your day are rarely used, ignored, or deleted to free up precious space.
These are important factors to keep in mind when developing a retail mobile app. Customers are just like you – they want something that brings value into their life. It’s not enough to be able to shop through the app. In order to leverage mobile effectively, an app should offer convenience and should tie into the bigger picture, enhancing the overall customer experience.
Retailers That Are Doing Mobile The Right Way
What does retail mobile look like when it’s done well? These are a few retailers who are adding real value through their mobile apps:
- Ikea Place: This app allows users to scan a room in their home and “place” Ikea furniture into the room using augmented reality. Now, customers can see whether a piece of furniture will fit in with their décor before committing to a purchase.
- Apple Store: Customers can connect with their local Apple retail store with the Apple Store app. Users can schedule appointments with the genius bar and sign up for store workshops and events. Inside a physical store, the app allows customers to request help, check in for an appointment, and more.
- Target: This app allows users to make shopping lists, see real-time item availability, locate items in an aisle, scan barcodes, view product deals and access exclusive coupons.
- Home Depot: App users can scan product codes and obtain user reviews. They can also share items to Twitter, Facebook or email. Users can also create shopping lists, check inventory at nearby stores and locate items within a store. The app also provides access to Home Depot’s library of DIY video tutorials.
- Starbucks: Users can check and reload their Starbucks card balance from their phone, website, or in-store. Updates are made in real-time across all platforms and newly earned rewards are immediately credited. The app also allows users to pay for their purchase directly from their phone with cards stored to the app. And of course, users can locate stores and access exclusive deals.
Many of these apps deliver similar value to customers, but they each do it in a way that connects to the retail brand and enhances the customer experience. In short, the apps are a reflection of the brand.
Apps Are A Gateway To Customer Insights
Mobile app success hinges on giving customers what they want, when they want it. If your app delivers on those expectations, users will give you something in return: insights into their preferences and habits. Mobile apps aren’t just about making a sale today. They give retailers a new avenue to get to know their customers and understand them on a whole new level to maintain relationships and improve customer lifetime value.
Customers who are loyal to an app will use it to browse, buy and connect with other customers. All of those interactions generate data points you can use to build more robust profiles. That data can then be leveraged to create highly personalized communications and interactions that speak directly to the needs and preferences of each customer.
The end result is a win-win for both retailer and shopper. Customers get value and convenience, and the retailer has new ways to strengthen connections, increase loyalty, grow their customer base and ultimately, lift sales.