7 Advantages of Digital Apps in Retail

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Posted May 4, 2017 8:24:30 AM by Stan Jaworski & filed under retail technology, enterprise mobility solutions

Do we need a mobile app?

That's a common question for retailers who wonder why their mobile website isn't meeting customers' needs. comScore research shows that 87% of the time Americans spend on mobile are in apps. Yahoo Flurry puts that percentage at 90%. Even so, retailers' apps and mobile websites serve different audiences with their own needs.

You need your mobile website to expand your brand's reach. Your mobile website is where people unfamiliar or new to your brand are going to get logistics, browse through selections, and read reviews. Your customers – your most loyal customers – are using your mobile app. If you have one, that is.

Here are seven advantages digital apps offer retailers:

1. Expand your pool of loyal, returning customers

We all know the value of a loyal customer. A well-designed mobile app that provides customers the convenience and insider offers they seek is your best tool for flipping the casual customer into a loyal, high-value brand ambassador. To do this, you need a mobile app that can entice and motivate with its features. According to Internet Retailer, 40% of American consumers will move on to a retailer's competitor if they have a bad mobile experience with the retailer. At the same time, this research found that brands that provide a compelling mobile experience improve their standing with 61% of American consumers. Read on for the tips on how a mobile app can entice and motivate.

2. Provide incentive-rich loyalty programs

Earning discounts, birthday gifts, and special customer anniversary offers are all proven methods of increasing customer loyalty. While loyalty cards have been around forever, the visualization opportunities of the virtual card in a mobile app, such number of points earned, points left before a specific reward kicks in, improve consumer commitment. People get excited chasing virtual cartoon characters on their phones. Seeing a big, beautiful visual telling them they're only a few points away from a great offer or freebie creates a most compelling loyalty experience. 

3. 1:1 personalization

Personas are critical marketing tools, but retailers need a mobile app to push out a truly personalized, individualized shopping experience. The app lets the customer set their own settings to tell you how they like to be contacted, what they want to hear about, and when they want to hear it. The behavioral data a mobile app can capture lets retailers individualize their offers and recommendations. It can push out abandoned cart texts or restock reminders. 

4. Marketing intel bonanza

Capturing all this rich, detailed consumer behavioral data not only lets retailers personalize, but can be used to build more effective marketing and sales campaigns. Aggregating all this behavioral data, such as how well different offers perform, product views and buying patterns, give retailers a nuanced view of their ideal customers that can then be used grow that pool of ideal customers.

5. Unparalleled convenience for everyone

Many shoppers want the emotional brand connection, especially Millennials. However, everyone wants more convenience. Shopping should be fun, not a chore. A mobile app is the most convenient way for customers to have up-to-date info about their past purchases, status of current orders, and store shopping and favorite lists. If the customer has allowed it and the retailer is using instore beacon technology, the mobile app can push out relevant information and offers based on where a shopper is in the store. An app also provides more direct communication channels between the shopper and sales or customer service associates.

6. Capture more revenue with mobile payment

According to Business Insider, retailers have a medium-term window to fuse customers to their brand by offering a mobile payment function through their app. Nothing is more convenient than not having to worry about cash or credit cards. Their research of companies such as Starbucks, that have mobile payments within their apps, found that mobile app loyalty programs with an embedded mobile wallet are set to see sales grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 68%. The inflection point for steep growth of mobile in-store payment is predicted to come in 2018, but level out by 2021. At that point, the banks and other players will have viable universal mobile wallet options available. Retailers that want to hold on to their loyal customers when the universal mobile wallet appears will need to have already fused their brand commitment through years of brand app mobile payments.

7. Reduce labor costs while improving clienteling

The more common tasks users can do for themselves via app, e.g. pay, arrange shipments, find status updates, the fewer customer service and sales associates a retailer needs. This isn't an effort to make these personnel roles obsolete. On the contrary. A retailer with a high functioning mobile app may need fewer associates, but those associates will be able to focus on the more enjoyable responsibilities of creating individual relationships with customers and providing truly personalized service. Building a higher-skilled workforce also keeps labor costs down by reducing churn. 

But wait… there's more

We haven't even touched on the back-end opportunities of a retail mobile app, that can reduce operating costs by significantly reducing paper (receipts) and enhancing inventory management. You can learn more about how DecisionPoint Systems, through customer mobile apps and associate mobile POS devices solutions, can improve logistical operations in ways that also reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.

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