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How Mobile Apps are Changing the Retail Industry


A guest post by the Shoutem team. They focus on building mobile apps for their clients that has allowed them to accumulate significant expertise in the areas of mobile app design, interfaces and user experiences. Mobile apps should be affordable for everyone, launch fast, require no coding skills and be simple to set up. That is their mission!

Just as with tracking sleep, managing our bank accounts, posting on social media, ordering pizza for lunch, travel, commute, play or learn, shopping is also overtaken by mobile apps. The shopping apps are changing the way we search and buy things, and it seems they are becoming the most valuable point of contact between stores and their customers.

A recent study on retail marketing by Business Insider concluded that over 60% of US consumers interacted with retailers online from their mobile devices - 44% of customers prefer a mobile shopping app rather than a mobile web app.  While we’re still debating over mobile website vs mobile apps, statistics show:

  • A regular user spends 201.8 minutes a month in mobile shopping apps, while he spends only 10.9 minutes in the webstores.
  • Mobile commerce will make up 45% of total e-commerce by 2020, equaling $284 billion in sales, states another study by Business Insider Intelligence.
  • Mobile shopping apps capture 42% of mobile revenue for the top 500 retailers.

Over the years with the rise and development of technology, consumers evolved and they are demanding more. Retailers need to be aware of that fact and adjust accordingly - offer more personalized, seamless experience to fulfil shoppers' needs.

Apps generate more revenue and better experience

Experts can debate over the winner of the match between mobile web vs mobile apps, but in the end, consumers and users are the ones that will decide a winner. Although the mobile web is still a more used, the survey conducted by RetailMeNot shows that mobile apps are more preferred since:

  • Apps work faster (57%)
  • Apps are more convenient (63%)
  • Apps offer benefits/rewards for usage (31%)

The rise in mobile app spending is also visible from the Google Analytics data - 30% of all online shopping purchases now happen on mobile phones. Mobile apps users are more valuable to retailers as customers spend 16% more per transaction via mobile app - for every $100 spent on the desktop, mobile app spend has risen to $116.

Benefits from the loyalty program

Loyalty programs have been around from the late 18th century in the form of copper tokens and programs are still being used, just in the form of loyalty mobile apps. Loyalty programs provide a great incentive for consumers to come back and use benefits (rewards) for being loyal.

Retailers are using loyalty programs to boost sales, create upsell and cross-sell opportunities and to improve retention. To execute sales and marketing strategies, retailers need to interpret the data acquired by the loyalty program. Once the data is gathered, retailers need to determine the most loyal/profitable consumers - as Pareto’s principle states, 80% of profits come from 20% of customers.

Once the most profitable customers are identified, it’s time for retailers to engage and connect with them. Keeping the most loyal customers happy will result in converting them into the brand ambassadors. Keep in mind that you still need to onboard and convert consumers from simple visitor to the regular customers or most profitable ones. There’s a huge potential that you as a retailer don’t want to abandon - 59% consumer said their opinion of a retailer would be more positive if they started to receive coupons and offers that could be saved on their smartphones.

The power of the push notifications

Push notifications may be perceived as one of the most powerful marketing and sales tools. However, with great power, comes great responsibility. What we saw with the rise of the push notifications, we saw earlier with emails - lousy, spammy marketers gave email a bad reputation and created aversion towards email campaigns. Bad understanding of marketing channels leads to not capitalizing its strengths and capabilities - over 50% of app users find push notifications annoying.

The proper way to send push messages is to make them highly personalized. And it takes a lot of effort and time on retailer side to create meaningful push messages - they need to be based on user preferences, purchase history, and behaviour.

35% of push notifications are generic “broadcast” blasts sent to all users and from this data, it’s easy to see that some marketers don’t have a single clue how to use them. But push notifications offer so much more as they evolved through the years. App owners are no longer limited just to broadcasted messages - users can be targeted based on their interest, preferences or purchase history. Highly targeted notifications offer a chance for a better user experience leading to better conversion rates.

A major “add-on” to push notifications are beacons - a relatively new technology that uses Bluetooth to communicate with the user device in close proximity. Retailers already started to recognize the benefits as 46% of retailers in the U.S. deployed beacons in 2015. Sending strategically timed push messages (deals) via beacons - on users arrival, time spent inside of the covered area, or their departure from the same. With precise time-targeted messages, retailers are able to engage with consumers at the right time and place while increasing chances to boost sales.

 It’s now or never

The debate over mobile web vs mobile apps will last a little bit longer, but retailers need to decide right now - take advantage of mobile apps and monetize marketing and sales efforts or let competitors do it before them. Your app can (and it should) be on consumer’s smartphone - 87% of smartphone owners always have their smartphone at their side, day, and night. It’s still not too late to build an app for your retail store without any coding, so you can start selling to the customers who prefer to shop via their smartphones.



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