Raise your hand if you’re a retailer and you’ve heard “You have to make an app!”
There is a reason for needing an app, and it is that customers use their mobiles while shopping – 96% of smartphone owners in the US research a product or service on their phone (Source: Google Mobile Leads), and 84% of American smartphone shoppers use phones to help them shop in-store (Source: Google + M/A/R/C Research).
To prevent your store from becoming just a showroom, the app has to represent a business strategy. Don’t create an app just for the sake of making an app; what do you want to achieve? More revenue? More customers for your loyalty program? Brand awareness? If you don’t set a goal, you will not be able to give your clients what they need. That being said, listen to your clients, set the main goal you want to achieve with mobile, figure out the strategy, and let’s start building an app.
1. Make the gameplan for your mobile retail app
Retail is huge; anything from food to jewelry can be sold, so it’s important to get close to the business and analyze what it does. We approach our projects by holding workshops with clients and really getting into their business. We ask them to represent themselves as a business and then think about user cases and stories. What we have noticed is that we need more direct user feedback.
2. Listen, then speak
Communication is one of the core elements that your retail app needs. When we say communication we mean listening as much as speaking. Retailers need to start looking more into what their users share, think, comment and buy, and where, when, and how they do so. Get closer to the consumers not by shouting, but by listening. Although this is common sense in traditional marketing, far too few marketers take direct feedback into consideration when it comes to mobile.
Get feedback in-store and see what customers are missing. How many times are they buying in your store per month and why? Do they want to shop more often, or less often? Would they prefer to buy online? Build the app based on what your customer needs than what you want. Allow your users to submit feedback in the app to see what’s working and what’s not. Then you can evolve your services over time in order to meet, and hopefully exceed, the expectations of your customers.
3. Make your app useful
Utility is the most important value that your retail app should have. The user has to be compelled to use your app; hence, it needs to provide a rational value in a natural situation. That’s part of the strategy. The business needs to have a goal, and the app needs to help the customer do something. You want an app that is used multiple times, not just once. It’s a challenge when you’re a retailer because nobody buys in a shop more than once a day- which is why it’s so important to understand what your customers need. Find the opportunities. I believe this includes social, loyalty, discounts, store locators, and barcode scanning.
Depending on what you want, you’ll optimize your app differently. For example, if you want to sell more, focus on offers. Time sensitive news and offers are key winners for higher revenue; according to a merchant survey from E-tailing, limited-hour promotions bring in an 18% gain. Being able to communicate to your clients, for example, that this week is x % off, is an advantage. However, this is a short term solution- what you really should work on is creating a loyalty program.
4. Socialization is a winning retail app factor
We live in a community in which collaboration is optimal. When we shop, we have doubts so we want insights and feedback from friends and family. Think of the husband buying the gift for his in-laws. It’d be great for him to be able to share a product with his wife without having to open up his email and attaching a link or photo. The shopping experience is social, especially for females; we like to know if our friends fancy that dress we’re eyeing. Top catalogue apps such as PLNDR allow users to share their looks and even reward them with credits when they do so. Socializing wish lists and gift registries would also make gift buying so much less painful since knowing what people want is 99.9% of the hardship. It would also be nice to socialize offers, like Groupon does, and product suggestions for people buying gifts together. Perhaps even include a cost splitter in the retail app.
5. Give a call-to-action
Let the customers see what they can buy, and the advantage of buying it. Take the Saks Fifth Avenue app for example: the look book doesn’t just show the shirt, but also the pants and shoes that go with it. A button on the side allows you to purchase the exact items. Present the product with an advantage to buying it now, such as time-sensitive offers through sales, discounts, and loyalty programs. Then, of course, give the option to complete the action and buy the item(s, we hope). This part is slightly complicated because shipment needs to be fast. One of the pieces of advice we give to retailers is to provide the option of either picking up the items in the nearest shop or receiving them at home. We also suggest in-store mobile checkout so that customers don’t have to wait in a queue.
6. Add convenience with a scanner
It’d be great to be able to scan an item in store and purchase it in the mobile app. Scanning is a big thing, it’s convenient, efficient, and not just about price but about product info and availability. Not only does scanning improve a retail app’s utility, it can drive foot traffic. This is what the most used shopping app Shopkick does; it rewards users when they scan items. Apple, however, not only allows customers to scan items but also pay for them with the Apple store app while they are in the physical store.
Keep in mind that this is all DMI’s advice, not rules. If you’d like to read more about the possibilities of mobile retail, stay tuned for the white paper coming in August.
Fabrizia, Senior Account Manager, DMI Mobile App Solutions