This is a guest post from Anastasia Sviridenko, a content marketing manager at TextMagic, a bulk SMS sending service.
Mobile has permanently changed the marketing landscape and the ways that businesses and consumers interact. Nearly half of all small businesses have a mobile presence and 25 percent of those that don’t intend to create an app compete with those that do. This transformative shift is thanks in part to the advantages that mobile gives consumers and businesses alike.
For example, a business used to have to wait for customers to show up at their store (or website) and actively browse through their products. Mobile devices allow shoppers to connect with their favorite brands and companies at any time, from almost anywhere, and they allow stores to more proactively reach out to consumers, rather than playing the waiting game.
While advantages like the convenience and availability of mobile are indeed impactful, the real reason why mobile commerce is something all stores should be investing in is much simpler.
People use mobile, a lot!
By the end of 2019, an estimated 75 percent of the U.S. population will be smartphone users. And it turns out, a lot of those smartphone owners are using their phones to shop. In 2018, mobile commerce revenue totaled $117 billion, which was almost a quarter of all online sales. That figure is continuing to grow each year, as more and more shoppers turn to their mobile devices to complete online purchases.
As the number of mobile shoppers climbs, the need for new, mobile-centric shopping experiences will grow right alongside it. Some stores have already found the tremendous benefits that come with creating a branded mobile app to enhance the shopping experience.
Here are some some of the benefits of having a mobile app for your store:
- Customers spend 3-4 times longer in a mobile commerce app than on a mobile website
- Mobile apps have the lowest cart abandonment rate (20 percent)
- With push notifications, you can encourage 200 percent more app opens
- App-based customers tend to spend more money than mobile or desktop site users (as much as double)
All of these numbers are powerful motivators for why your eCommerce business needs a mobile app. But, it isn’t just the numbers that should affect your decision. Mobile apps have many benefits for both users and companies.
Personalization is the key to mobile commerce. Customers want to see products and offers that are directly relevant to their needs and interests. When users create an app profile, they immediately alert you of some of these preferences, which makes personalization much more seamless and immediate.
When experience is personalized, customers are much more likely to return and shop again or commit their full brand loyalty. As consumers, we just like when the experience makes us feel welcomed and remembered, instead of just another customer.
Your eCommerce store likely already utilizes email and SMS-based marketing messages. Why? Because these types of messages see high open rates, which better ensures that your customers see and take action on your offers.
When a customer downloads your mobile app, however, you can send push notifications and reminders directly to their device’s home screen. These can be an effective means of communicating with customers, particularly for sending them limited-time offers.
For example, Dinda, a Brazil-based retailer for children’s clothes, was able to drive 60 percent more app revenue by implementing and monitoring a more aggressive push notification strategy.
When app users enable location-based services, your mobile app can target them with messages based on where they are. Perhaps the best way for retail businesses to utilize this feature is to send customers messages when they enter a store location. This can merge the mobile shopping experience with the physical one.
You can also use location-based services to alert customers of new store locations when they are traveling outside of their usual neighborhood.
For online-only eCommerce retailers, location-based messages can still be useful. For example, you could target notifcations about holiday shipping cutoffs to customers by location, ensuring that shoppers who live furthest from your distribution center will get the message in time to place their orders before the cutoff date.
Speed, in any retail setting, is critical. The faster you can service a customer’s needs and get them through the checkout process and out the virtual doors of your eCommerce store, the more memorable the shopping experience is and the more likely they are going to want to shop again in the future.
Apps allow users to save their payment options securely. Thus, checkout can be achieved in a few clicks and without having to enter payment and shipping information for each purchase continuously. This eliminates a lot of the hassle and roadblocks associated with shopping online
And, most mobile commerce apps are designed to accept all types of payments, including digital wallet options like Apple Pay, PayPal, Venmo, etc., which further streamline the checkout process on mobile. This gives customers more options to complete their transactions. Some consumers are more comfortable using these apps because they don’t have to enter any sensitive information.
With all of these benefits, building a mobile app for an eCommerce store seems like an obvious step. So, why do so many eCommerce stores continue to operate without a mobile app?
The answer almost always boils down to one thing: cost.
Business owners assume that building a useful mobile app requires hiring a mobile development agency or, at the very least, a software engineer. This can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000, which is a substantial investment for most eCommerce companies. Plus, you also have to consider the costs of maintaining and updating the app with new features, content, etc.
While this is true and a high-end app can cost thousands, it isn’t the only option available. Some affordable services allow businesses to build their own apps. Solutions like GoodBarber, BiznessApps, AppMakr, and many others deliver basic, subscription-based, DIY app builders that will enable even a small eCommerce business to create a functional mobile app.
If you can afford to hire an outside developer to build an app from scratch, great. That will always yield the best results. On the other hand, if you want to rely on a more affordable, DIY option, do a lot of research before deciding which to use. As you look at each platform’s offerings, you should pay particular attention to the features and design options available.
Your chosen app solution should have enough design elements to make your app stand out and look unique (especially from other businesses using the same service), and the eCommerce app features that help drive revenue and enhance your company’s customer experience. Also make sure that your chosen app provider integrates well with your eCommerce platform.
Mobile has already permanently changed the way we operate in our daily lives, mainly how we shop and interact with our favorite brands/companies. Mobile commerce apps are another dimension to this ever-shifting landscape. As these apps become more and more popular, consumers will begin to expect them as part of any brand’s customer experience.
It’s only a matter of time before eCommerce apps become an almost mandatory channel for any business to utilize, just as the internet and social media are today.
For eCommerce store owners, investing in the development of a mobile app can yield a lot of benefits and dramatically boost sales.