People use smartphones for a multitude of reasons, including talking, texting, socializing and research. And now, consumers are increasingly using them for shopping; a 2015 survey reported that mobile commerce is growing 300% faster than traditional ecommerce.
This news may pique retailers’ interest in launching e-commerce apps. But before they undertake researching, developing and implementing mobile apps, they should ask themselves five questions.
1. How Will Customers Interact With an E-Commerce App?
U.S. consumers are spending an increasing amount of time on shopping apps — averaging 3 hours and 5 minutes in 2016. Criteo reports shoppers are also, on average, spending more money via apps ($102) than they are on mobile Web ($92) or on desktop ($100).
But before you try to capitalize on these increasing numbers, ensure that your app development will accurately reflect your customers’ potential interactions. Here are some ideas and questions to consider:
- Do you have a strong loyalty program? Use your mobile app to leverage that experience. Provide shoppers with notifications of special in-app purchases or exclusive membership offers that encourage them to stay connected and shop.
- Create targeted push notifications that encourage shoppers to take action, such as reminders of specific items left in their shopping carts.
- Offer personalized browsing experiences, based on the shopper’s past purchases, that capitalize on their interests.
- Are shoppers using your app for comparison shopping, or do they know exactly what they want when they open your app?
- What do shoppers expect from your app? At the minimum, they want quick-loading, simple apps that do what they need them to: quickly find and purchase the items they need and want.
- Are your shoppers “snackers” — making multiple small purchases throughout the day — or do they tend to place one big order less frequently?
2. What Are Your Products and Services Like?
Big-ticket items like electronics and high-end jewelry don’t lend themselves well to sales through mobile apps. Limited screen real estate results in small pictures that can’t show size and detail. Small screens may also mean abbreviated product descriptions that don’t paint a complete picture of the item.
Make sure that shoppers can also use your app to read reviews and compare prices; this information gives them the confidence they need to purchase your products.
3. Who Will You Target With Your App?
Focus on your high-value, most loyal customers. Research what they want from rich mobile app experiences, then use that information to design your app and improve the mobile experience.
Offering personalized experiences — such as pushing reminders about items left in shopping carts or promotions on recently viewed items — will also help you realize improved mobile conversions. Investing in your top-tier customers, Criteo reports, results in improving mobile app conversions over Web conversions by 120%.
4. Do You Have the Resources to Build the App?
Building an e-commerce app requires manpower, knowhow and a generous budget. Consider how these resource requirements will affect your bottom line:
- A creative team. You’ll rely on them to do your research, establish the target platform and start the conceptual work. This may be an in-house group, or you may need to seek outside consultation with more expertise.
- App designers. There are basic app-building tools online that can help in-house developers build a simple app under a tight budget. But to develop a robust app with the bells and whistles customers want, you’ll often need to find outside resources, like:
- IT consulting firms. A quick web search can provide you a plethora of providers to contact.
- Technology providers. Companies like Salesforce offer app builders that offer drag-and-drop ease as well as highly customized builders.
- Financial resources. Developing a robust app is expensive. Complex or recognized brand apps can easily cost $50,000-$150,000. But remember that trying to save money on the front end can often end up costing you on the back end. So set a realistic budget, get quotes from multiple developers, and develop the app when you have the budget to do it right.
5. Can You Ensure Transactional Security?
With mobile commerce transactions increasing, so is fraud. In 2014, mobile commerce transactions accounted for 21% of the year’s fraudulent transactions. From card-not-present fraud, to friendly fraud to carrier fraud, merchants must ensure that their mobile app protects both customers and themselves.
Merchants must be proactive in transactional security, offering customers a multilayered approach that — at a minimum — improves payment security, offers customer identity verification procedures, and stops mobile overlay malware apps.
Choose the Right Partner to Secure Your App
As apps become an increasingly efficient and popular retail channel, the retailers with the best e-commerce apps are capturing half their sales on mobile.
But don’t risk payment and data security for the promise of increased sales. Combine forces with a multilayered protection solution that will help you protect your company and maximize your revenue.