The term “new normal” is one we’ve all heard time and time again in the last few years — but what does it actually mean for the retail space?
Retailers were deeply impacted by the pandemic. Around the world, stores had to figure out new ways to engage with their customers and sell their products. Brick-and-mortar retailers went online, capitalizing on web stores ecosystems like Shopify, and leveraging their social media presence and other digital tools to attract customers to their brand.
In other words, the “new normal” set new expectations for what shopping experiences should look like. Today’s customers expect to engage with a brand across multiple channels, they want to be able to shop however they’re most comfortable, and they demand seamless, personalized interactions across the board.
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) retail businesses that want to succeed in this evolving space need a strategy for growing their digital presence and giving customers the flexibility they’re looking for. One way to meet both those goals is by deploying a mobile application.
For DTC retailers, mobile apps enable customers to view products and shop, participate in loyalty programs, and engage with customer service all from their mobile device. They position businesses to better deliver positive customer experiences, while also allowing them to frame their brand in a new way. In this article, we’ll explore these and other benefits for retailers that make a mobile app part of their offering.
When thinking about the value of a mobile app, it’s fairly easy to identify the role it plays in improving customer experiences. At the end of the day, consumers are interacting with optimized digital products every day (think Netflix and Instagram), so it’s no surprise that they expect the same from their retailers. Giving them an app lets them engage with their favorite retailer in the same way they do other services.
That said, mobile apps can also provide businesses with other key benefits that can enhance their brand and their decision making. Here are five key drivers that are worth keeping top of mind as you decide whether an app is worth the investment.
According to recent research, people spend an average four to five hours a day on mobile apps. In some parts of the world, that’s even higher than the amount of time people were on apps during the height of the pandemic. Whether they’re commuting, watching a TV show, or taking a break at work, people resort to their mobile devices to get their information, scroll through posts, and even shop.
What this means for DTC retailers is that there’s an opportunity to capture some of this attention with a mobile app. If their favorite store has an app — and that app is on their mobile device — customers will be much more likely to spend some of their down time scrolling through products, sales, and announcements. An app also gives customers more direct access to your products. This means that when they have a need or want related to your space, they can just pick up their phone and act on it immediately.
You already know that branding plays an important role in your business. Having brand elements and identifiers that appear consistently across your channels makes it easier for customers to recognize you and keep your products top of mind when they’re shopping.
A mobile app gives you yet another avenue to extend your brand presence and foster both trust and loyalty with your customers. You can incorporate design features and personality traits that are already present on your website and social channels, and use them to stand out against your peers. Plus, having a well-designed, easy-to-use app will ensure that your customers continue to associate your brand with satisfying experiences.
Today’s customers want tailored shopping experiences. In fact, 30% of consumers are willing to switch merchants if it means opting into a more customized shopping journey. As a result, offering personalized experiences can lead to higher revenue for brands — and a mobile app can help facilitate that.
Through a mobile app, you can give customers multiple ways to share preferences and indicate how they want to shop. For example, if a customer adds a product to their wishlist, you could then send them a push notification when that item is back in stock or on sale. Alternatively, brands can use past shopping data to make relevant recommendations. For a customer that bought wool gloves, a winter clothing retailer could surface product recommendations for a matching hat or scarf when the customer next logs into the app.
Every day, retailers get access to more and more data about their customers, whether it’s through how and when they shop or which products sell the fastest. This customer data is useful for brands to make decisions about which products to feature more, how to engage with different customer personas, or when to have a specific sale.
A mobile app can be a great tool for gathering some of this information. With a mobile app equipped with analytic capabilities, for example, you can evaluate customer behaviors and preferences. In addition, feedback gathering mechanisms within the app (like product ratings and a messaging system) lets customers actively indicate what they like (or not) about your offerings. As a brand, you can then use that data to make informed decisions about how you use the app, what products you feature, and more.
You may be thinking: “I already have a website with mobile capabilities, why do I need a mobile app?” The fact is, a mobile app can do so much more just by being integrated into your mobile device. Mobile apps can do more to leverage a mobile device’s features, such as GPS, mobile payments, bluetooth, and cameras. This can allow your brand to be creative with how customers can interact with your brand on the application — and it can also help provide more customized experiences.
The bonus? Mobile apps can also be accessed offline. So your customers can scroll through products and other features on your app even if they’ve run out of data that month.
Done right, a mobile app can extend your brand, grow customer loyalty, and increase revenue as a result. However, for many DTC retailers, the cost and resources needed to build and maintain a mobile app can feel prohibitive — but it doesn’t have to.
New no-code software solutions are opening the door for retailers to build apps without developers, using the information they already have on their web stores. Spinning up an app is becoming easier than ever, and the reasons to not participate are becoming obsolete. So, what are you waiting for?
At Apptile, you can build an app in minutes, no dev time required. Learn how.