Will Mobile Apps Replace eCommerce Websites?
With 40% of all online retail sales in the UK coming directly from mobile (Source: Capgemini), any serious ecommerce player knows the value in having a mobile-responsive site. More and more ecommerce companies are taking their mobile strategy one step further by building apps to give their users a truly dedicated shopping experience. We’re now at the point where websites, mobile responsive or not, may become obsolete for the ecommerce industry as companies make the move to an app-only experience.
Don’t believe me? Well, India’s ecommerce giant Flipkart have done just that.
The major etailer has announced its radical plan to shut down their website within a year and transition completely to a mobile app. Fashion site Myntra, which Flipkart acquired last year, has already abandoned its website in favour of an app.
This is a huge shift in the industry and many debate whether this decision will lead to a drop in sales and heavy reactions from Flipkart customers. This bold move though, clearly highlights that we are looking beyond the era of mobile responsive sites and heading full-throttle towards a fully optimised mobile experience.
Is Flipkart’s gamble the start of a trend we will see other large retailers follow in the near future?
Debating parties claim that users should have the freedom to shop as they wish. Forcing them to download an app can lead to high drop off rates and users turning to competitive sites that offer a more flexible user experience. Why should a user consume data, phone memory and extra time in order to shop for your product? ONLY, if they are getting something very valuable in return.
When mobile apps are built and implemented well , the benefits can be significant. Below we outline just a few of the main ones you should consider:
The Benefits of mobile apps for Retailers
Compared to mobile web, apps are far more responsive and have far fewer connectivity issues. Apps can also incorporate smartphone features such as GPS, Bluetooth, address book and the camera for product and credit card scanning.
Meeting cross channel customer demands
If you are among the top retail brands, customers often expect you to provide a mobile app alternative. And it seems that mobile apps are increasingly becoming the preferred way of interacting with brands among the majority of consumers. According to recent research from Weve, Vodafone, O2 and EE’s joint mobile marketing network, 46% of 18- to 34-year-olds said mobile was their “first screen.”
Personalising the shopping experience and boosting customer loyalty
Apps have introduced a new way for enhanced customer engagement – by sending personalised push notifications to your customers with news, relevant information and promos.
The combination of push notifications and in-app rich messaging has created a truly powerful solution that has been proven to improve conversion, engagement and revenue.
Gathering meaningful data
Having a mobile app allows you to not only engage your customers, but to easily track and understand their behaviour. Retail-focused mobile analytics tools allow you to gather valuable information on just about every aspect of a user’s interaction, helping brands make data-driven business decisions. Usabilla will be launching its Live for Apps product in Q2 2015, which allows companies to collect user feedback straight from their native apps.
Facilitating payments and check-out
Utilizing built-in smartphone features, payments are streamlined and can be made much more easily. The checkout process can be completed using internet banking apps, credit card scanning, digital wallets and more. A good example of how mobile payments are advancing is the fact that within the next year, UK retailers will be able to use the iPhone Touch ID to allow payment authentication via Apple Pay.
To conclude, if an app is designed with an optimal user experience in mind and provides clear benefits in comparison to a mobile site, loyal customers will select this as their preferred option. Retailers should leverage the fact that more and more transactions are completed via mobile devices and adapt their mobile strategy in order to meet customer expectation and boost customer loyalty.