Smartphones and tablets are immediate, they are connected and remain within reach of their owners nearly 24/7. Mobility puts your brand right into your customers’ pockets, and the immediacy and connectedness of mobile devices make users more likely to share experiences than they would surfing the web on a PC.
Most online purchases still occur from PCs and laptops, but that is changing. A 2014 Goldman Sachs forecast predicted that global e-commerce sales made through mobile devices will reach nearly $640 billion by 2018. For comparison, that’s approximately the size of the world’s entire e-commerce market in 2013. Put bluntly, ignoring mobile means leaving sales on the table.
Benefits of Brand-Building Apps
E-commerce apps aren’t the only important ways that companies increase sales. Brand-building apps may take the form of tools relevant to the brand. For example, a home décor company could create an app to help customers select the best shade of paint or accent colours. An energy drink company could create a game in which its products feature. These apps may not lead directly to purchases, but they can build word-of-mouth and brand loyalty if they’re engaging and fun.
Benefits of E-Commerce Apps
E-commerce apps, of course, make it easier for people to purchase your company’s products and services. Not only can you use e-commerce apps to increase customer engagement, you can use them to promote special offers or even provide a customer service channel. Furthermore, e-commerce apps allow you to collect customer data, analysing their profiles and their ways of interacting with the app. And your app’s icon on a customer’s smartphone screen is a reminder of your brand every time they scroll through their phone’s screens.
How Apps Increase Sales
There are numerous ways that companies use apps to increase sales. The most obvious, of course, is mobile ordering, where customers browse products and order them directly from the app. During the recent 2014 holiday season, e-commerce giant Amazon reported nearly 60% of shopper activity as coming from mobile platforms, including its shopping apps and mobile websites. Companies also use apps to offer loyalty programmes for repeat shoppers where everything is accomplished and tracked right from the user’s device.
Other ways apps can increase sales include:
• Easy social media sharing with one tap
• Push notifications of offers and discounts
• Mobile reservations for service providers like spas
• Location-based coupons offered when users “check in” at physical retail locations
Apps Trump Mobile Sites
Perhaps you’ve considered simply having a mobile website and foregoing a dedicated app, and while there’s nothing wrong with having a mobile website, there are many advantages to having an app instead of or in addition to it. Apps are used more frequently and for longer periods than mobile sites are. For one thing, those who download your app already have some familiarity with your brand and feel that they have a relationship with it. For another, app users spend three to four times longer interacting than they would on a mobile website. Generally, mobile websites are used for gathering information quickly (like checking for a location or phone number) while apps are used for more intensive activities like shopping.
What Consumers Want from Shopping Apps
In 2014, marketing consultants immr decided to find out what consumers want in their shopping apps. They found four major themes, and they’re all about efficiency and inspiration:
• Consumers want to save money by comparing prices, finding and using coupons, and receiving special promotions.
• They want to obtain product and store information quickly and easily.
• They like having the option of shopping online and picking up products in local stores.
• They want to “window shop,” learn about trends, and be inspired.
E-commerce intelligence portal Internet Retailer estimates that in 2014, 42% of mobile sales were from apps, with the remaining 58% via mobile websites. That’s because, they say, many retailers have done an inadequate job of giving consumers reasons to download and use retail apps. This represents an enormous growth opportunity for retailers who are willing to develop apps that give consumers what they want in an engaging interface. It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
Bespoke native apps for retail offer businesses the best value for their investment, provided they work with an app developer that’s attuned to customer needs first and foremost. Glance is a leading developer of native apps for top brands that want to provide their valued customers with a shopping experience that delivers ease, efficiency, and the options they want most.