Mobile commerce, or m-commerce, is rising fast as more shoppers are shopping, paying, and banking on their small screens, with expectations for the same seamless experiences they've come to expect when shopping on their laptops and desktops.
Every retailer wants a “sticky” mobile app – that is, an app that stays on a shopper’s mobile device long after the initial download. But many retailers are finding that it’s easier said than done.
Shoppers are protective of the limited storage space on their phones, and retailers must present a good reason for why their app should stay. Quick in-store promotions for customers that download the app aren’t going to cut it; customers need to be incentivized regularly to stick around long term.
Why are so many retail apps missing the mark?
Many retailers make the mistake of designing apps just to have one. These apps replicate the mobile website, and add little to no value to the shopping experience. These retailers view the app as just another means of driving orders.
However, since shoppers can already easily buy products across multiple channels, retailers should view their apps as a marketing tool and a purchase driver. Apps that grab customer attention are ones that will remain on mobile devices, and ultimately increase sales.
3 ways retailers can improve their mobile app strategy
- Provide engaging, app-exclusive content. A mobile app has to provide valuable, rich content that shoppers can’t get anywhere else. Shopping guides, lookbooks, product videos and more are all examples of exclusive content that ensure an app won’t be deleted. This content should be optimized to view in-app, and shouldn’t be available elsewhere. Content that excites customers gives them a reason to keep coming back to the app, while still interacting with the brand in other ways.
- Target brand’s biggest fans. Since one-time customers are not likely to download a specific retail app, assume that shoppers using the app are already loyal to a brand. In fact, apps should be made specifically for the top 10 percent of shoppers who purchase and browse regularly. With this in mind, retailers need to offer exclusive promotions to reward shoppers and use the app to promote loyalty programs that keep shoppers engaged. Starbucks is an excellent example of an app designed with loyal shoppers in mind – it not only streamlines transactions in-store, but rewards customers for buying their favorite drinks.
- Create an intimate omnichannel experience for each shopper. Shoppers that use a retailer’s app are more likely to visit that retailer’s website and brick-and-mortar location, and they want each experience to be informed by their relationship with the brand. For an app to be effective, it needs to be completely integrated across channels so that favorites, shopping carts and user preferences stay the same along each platform.
With these tips in mind, any retailer’s app can go from expendable to a favorite on shoppers’ home screens.