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The customer journey is incredibly fluid. Shoppers have many different opportunities to engage with their favorite brands, from stores and websites to social media platforms. As a result of these dynamic changes in retail, we see omnichannel becoming omnibrand. This means brands and consumers can interact in any way, anywhere, and at any time.
Consumer apps are a natural fit for that thinking, as they keep the lights on for brands and consumers alike 24/7, 365 days a year. However, according to the 2022 Omnichannel Leadership Report from NewStore, only 34% of brands offer a shoppable mobile app. That’s low if you consider the results of the App Annie State of Mobile report. Consumers downloaded 230 billion new apps in 2021. Even more, they spent 100 billion hours globally shopping in apps.
Why An App Now?
You probably think the consumer app craze was a few years ago. Maybe, but the pandemic has been a catalyst for mobile use across many areas of life. Shopping included. Apps offer brands a fundamentally better way to build relationships with consumers since they’re now embracing a truly mobile lifestyle. Not to mention, they drive several critical areas of retail today, including contactless payments, loyalty, and the in-store experience.
If consumer apps have not made their way on your roadmap or aren’t being prioritized, reconsider. They’re the missing piece of the puzzle to win in the age of the mobile-first, convenience-obsessed, and purposeful shopper.
Let me debunk some of the reasons why you may be putting off launching a consumer app. In doing so, you’ll realize exactly what you stand to gain from adding apps to your retail strategy.
We have a mobile website; We don’t need a mobile app.
This is the most common objection. First and foremost, mobile websites are not the same as mobile apps. Optimizing for the form factor doesn’t equal more value. When it comes to apps, consumers are looking for something different than what they can find on your site. They want a curated and personal experience that connects them to the brand whether they’re on the couch, on the go, or in a store.
More importantly, consumers convert more on mobile apps than on mobile websites. In many cases, we see a 7x increase in conversion rates. This is because there are more opportunities on apps to remove barriers to purchase. Content like video lookbooks give brands the chance to dynamically showcase their merchandise and consumers the chance to buy when their intent is highest. Apps can also solve the cart abandonment issue we see on websites with modern and streamlined checkout experiences via Apple Pay and more.
A mobile app will cannibalize our ecommerce and store revenue.
It’s not a zero-sum game. Shoppers expect a seamless experience with your brand across every touchpoint: in-store, online, and from an app. But they don’t see channels. They simply are shopping on their terms with your brand where it is most convenient for them.
There is also a known Halo Effect in retail. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), brick-and-mortar stores have a direct impact on digital engagement and vice versa. Similarly, App Annie’s recent report demonstrated that the time spent in a mobile shopping app strongly correlates with total retail sales both online and in-store. All of this is to say sales can happen directly in your app (which they will, and at a higher rate than you probably expect!) Or your app will influence sales online or in-store.
Apps offer an opportunity to create a unified experience for customers. They won’t cannibalize your other channels. They’ll enhance them with robust features that drive conversions and lifetime loyalty.
Our customers will not download and then use another app.
Current data tells a different story. Time spent in shopping apps in 2021 rose 18% year-over-year, with particularly strong growth for fashion and other related shopping apps.
There are also ways to overcome the friction often associated with downloading an app. You can launch a native app experience using technology like App Clips and Instant Apps from Apple and Google, respectively. With one of these “mini apps,” all the shopper has to do is scan a QR code or tap an NFC tag to access it. These apps expose the core functionality without making the consumer download or install anything.
Once a lite app is opened, it takes just a few taps to download the full app and take advantage of its exclusive benefits. However, if that’s not the path for them, there are many ways the mini version can fulfill the customer’s needs at that very moment. It can bring up product information or the shopper can build a cart and buy outside the store at their leisure.
Investing in Consumer Apps in 2022
Apps are an untapped revenue stream. They’re also the new loyalty card. If you’re seeking this kind of instant business value this year and beyond, and you also want to give consumers a one-of-kind key to your brand, investing in a mobile app is your move.
Stephan Schambach is Founder and CEO of NewStore. The company offers a modular, mobile-first platform that includes POS, OMS, clienteling, inventory, and native consumer apps, designed to create amazing shopping experiences that store associates and consumers love.