Following the successful launch of a client’s app in the UK I’ve been inspired by my love of shopping and grabbing a bargain to investigating app marketing for retailers. As both a customer and a marketer I wanted to take a deep dive into the type of techniques used by retail apps and how they can be leveraged, whilst evaluating their effectiveness from a consumer’s point of view.

Retailers Need an App

Firstly it’s worth considering whether or not there’s any value in even having a retail app as this can seem like a pretty controversial suggestion. But after digging through data and trends focused on wider app marketing and specifically within retail, I am convinced that this is a necessity.

With the knowledge that 90% of apps are downloaded and used only once, it would intuitively make sense for retailers to focus on the mobile website over developing an app. However, according to Criteo’s State of Commerce Mobile Report, apps convert 120% better than mobile browsers, and that personalised experience yields a 5 times higher spend, so it makes sense that app development should be the next step for retailers.

User Interface and Feedback

Apps can set themselves apart from the ‘clunkiness’ of a mobile website with an improved UI (User Interface) based on customer feedback. Rather than the more traditional approach of keeping the desktop and mobile site very similar and optimising it based on smaller screens and web-browser loading speeds, for an app, it’s all about the added personalisation. Incorporation of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning that can bring a customer a truly tailored experience, setting itself apart from any other online or in-store shopping experience.

At the core, not only do you need to have a fast and responsive app, but also one that is reactive to the needs of the customer. The features that need to be front and centre differ greatly from platform to platform, which is why inviting feedback is essential for any app. Who better to advise you on what to change than your own users? Although you may open yourself up to criticism, allowing yourself to be open to that and sifting through what is and isn’t constructive can not only improve your app’s usability, and subsequently the customer’s experience, but also your brand’s wider reputation. Don’t forget: customer experience goes beyond users’ ease of navigation and transactions in an app, from customer service and troubleshooting to the visual elements of a brand.

Personalisation

There’s no doubt that shoppers are extremely savvy. After the first in-store purchase, 47% of customers go to the online marketplace to find a better deal. I, myself, rarely make an instore purchase, finding the online prices and services of PayPal much more enticing; a reflection on my own shopping habits revealed that I actually buy 90% of my goods through just one app. So how can another app change the mind of the customer?

Trends in the reports show that personalisation through data and AI, in conjunction with an app-optimised UI, will greatly boost sales. Generating and maintaining this trust, as well as, delivering customer service can often be enough to override a user’s price objections, opting to pay a premium for a superior experience and service. In my case, the entire experience of using an app is far better, often balancing out the cost of me travelling to the shops in the first place, and allows me to browse in comfort and avoid disappointments if a product is understocked.

Augmented Reality

The use of AR technology is on the rise. No longer just a gimmick, AR is being integrated into social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook for use by stores and businesses. The rise of apps using augmented reality to put makeup or clothing onto the customer, or furniture in their environment, is the next step in giving your customers that all-important trial. If a customer is able to test a product then they’re more likely to purchase and less likely to return it, improving customer satisfaction and lowering costs associated with dissatisfaction and returns.

With the knowledge that shoppers are receptive to AR already through photo filters and gaming etc, it makes sense to incorporate this technology where possible, taking it one step further and adding it to your own app on top of using the features available in these social platforms.

Capture your customer’s mobile usage in store

A recent report stated that 71% of shoppers use their mobile phone in store, typically to compare prices and read reviews. With that in mind, marketers need to find a way to leverage this in apps using a combination of Machine Learning, UI and location data. Customer experience is vital, and with 50% of first-time purchases being made in store we need to capture and retain customers through retail apps and services.

There’s no one perfect tried and tested way to do this, so app developers and marketers need to experiment. Testing different methods and carefully measuring the results. Perhaps the answer is to reduce the need to use mobiles in-store by clearly displaying price comparisons or reviews on the shelf, or by redirecting mobile usage by getting customers to use their phones to interact with products on the shelves.

OggaDoon has just launched Scale 90, a package specifically designed for apps in the alpha/beta development stage. Find out more about how we can support your development and comms from testing through to post-launch.