There’s no question about it: We are in the golden age of online retail. Have been, actually, for several years now, and it shows no sign of stopping. There is almost nothing you can’t buy online, and there’s countless ways to locate a product, check the reviews, compare prices, and get it shipped to your house. And, while it’s essential to have a high-functioning and well-developed website for your business, it’s becoming more of a mobile world every day. Mobile retail apps are an enormous resource for your retail business, and can drive sales, brand awareness, and customer retention better than any other means available. Let’s look at a few numbers and some must-have features you need to know about as you approach the development and launch of your mobile retail app.
Why is Mobile So Big?
There’s plenty of data that we can (and will) present to you to show how dominant mobile retail apps are in the marketplace, but first, let’s consider how today’s normal consumer shops for, say, a backpack. This journey might conceivably start on a desktop or laptop, but research is showing even at-home users are using their mobile devices for the majority of their online needs. The user may use a search engine to look for top-rated backpacks, or maybe try to find more moderately priced packs. Checking different blogs of outdoorsy influencers or online magazines to see what they recommend is also a popular step. Either way, once a few brands and styles have been identified, many users will start flipping through different pages to see where these packs are available and how much they are retailing for.
Now that the search has been narrowed down to a few models, most users start digging through reviews. Popular sites like Amazon (by far the most popular mobile shopping app) have thousands of reviews, and smaller niche sites have a few well-informed reviews also. Now, it’s down to two backpacks, and a handful of stores in the area that carry it. Many will find a good deal online and get it shipped to them, but backpacks should be tried on and hand inspected, so the user is going to a store. Two stores are within a few miles, so they drive to one, sit in the parking lot and compare the two prices. The savvy consumer will also download that store’s retail app, as there’s often deals, coupons, and even up-to-date inventories to make sure that store has the size and color they want. Once they’re in the store, they can find the exact aisle and shelf to go to, and maybe a in-store push notification will let them know there’s a special sale related to outdoor gear that the consumer might want to take note of. Grab the pack, check your bank account to make sure your paycheck was deposited, and make the purchase.
Now that we’ve taken this fictional shopping journey, let’s break down these steps and crunch some numbers to consider what your retail app needs to succeed.
Essential Data Points
In case there’s any question about how popular and dominant mobile retail shopping is, here’s a few numbers to look at. This Statista report has lots of relevant data, including these points:
- 82% of online shoppers in the US in 2018 report being very satisfied with the process.
- 43% of those surveyed reported convenience as the main reason they shop online.
- Mobile retail commerce sales constitute almost half of total online sales in 2017 in the US, and that number is expected to be about 54% by the year 2021.
- 68% of shoppers who used a mobile device to shop in 2017 utilized a retail app while shopping.
Mobile shopping is growing exponentially, and having your own retail app is a great way to make the user’s experience immersive, convenient, and one that they’ll go back to again and again.
Breaking Down the Mobile Shopping Journey
Based on our fictional backpack purchase above, let’s look at the different features your mobile retail app can (and should) include in the development phase.
- Catalog: We shop with our eyes, so high-quality images of your products are a must. Some mobile retail apps have 3D rotatable images, easily found dimensions, and even virtual settings where you can “see” how the product looks in your home.
- Content: Making sure that your website has a robust blog that promotes your retail app and has plenty of relevant links (for example, a link to the backpack brand) can help your SEO rating and will make your brand recognizable and the app easy to find and download.
- Filters and Inventory: Instead of the user flipping through several different pages to try to locate product, have several filters on your own app where the user can easily sort by price, brand name, availability, etc. Having an updated inventory imbedded in the app will reassure the user that you have plenty of desirable products available.
- Reviews: Having an active review and rating feature is essential for the buying decision process. Today’s consumer almost always checks reviews before any significant purchase, so having them on your app keeps the process inclusive to your app. Make sure to keep both bad and good reviews visible, as the user can typically detect any sort of brand censorship.
- Store Locator and Mapping: GPS locating features make locating and getting to a store is a basic yet crucial feature. Integrating your individual store inventory is also important, as the user should know that any given store actually has the product they are interested in.
- In-Store User Experience: Here’s where your app can really make a difference. Features like product locators, flash sales, reusable coupons, and other push notifications can keep the user engaged. Instant discounts on related items can also boost sales.
- Wish List Feature: If you have a wish list feature on your app, users can keep a list of items they’re interested in, either for this trip, the next one, or at home shopping. Keeping track of their search history lets you target them with discounts and specials.
- Shipping and Payment: These are crucial features that need a lot of attention. According to the Statista report, most customers abandoned items in their virtual shopping cart and didn’t go through with the purchase because of unexpected shipping costs, shipping delays, and having to re-enter payment or personal information too many times. Focus a lot of your UX/UI team on these final steps.
As you can see, there are lots of stats and features to consider when developing and launching your mobile retail app. These should all be considered as priorities in the ideation/pre-development stage, and discussing the value and cost with an experienced app development team will keep you informed on what investments make sense for your retail app. We’ll leave you with one last stat: according to this report, mobile retail apps accounted for 44% of all eCommerce sales in Q4 of 2017. That number is not getting any lower, so get going!
Do you have an idea for a mobile retail app? Check out some of our work to see if you would be a good fit to help you launch your app idea!