If there’s one thing we can say about the retail industry, it’s that it’s always in flux. At the end of the day, stores exist to serve their customers, and that means they have to be ready to respond to evolving customer expectations if they want to survive — and thrive — in their market.
Today’s customers have higher expectations than ever. They want increasingly seamless digital experiences, personalized interactions, and flexibility in how they engage with brands. For direct-to-consumer (DTC) retailers, this spells an opportunity to expand and refine their digital presence. Those that don’t invest in developing an omnichannel approach risk falling off the radar and being edged out by competitors that are more digitally savvy.
One way to respond to this challenge is by developing a mobile app that provides customers with convenience, personalized experiences, and enhanced customer service — all on their mobile devices. In this article, we’re taking a closer look at how having a mobile app can help DTC brands provide better shopping experiences for their consumers.
Retail brands are using mobile apps to provide a variety of offerings. The most common approach is to extend the shopping experience to mobile, reflecting similar e-commerce functionality as a customer would find on the brand’s website. For this purpose, the app includes an updated list of products that customers can add to their wishlist or cart, payment capabilities, order tracking, store information, and ways to contact customer service.
Some brands take their mobile app further, curating a comprehensive experience that customers can engage with from wherever they are. Gymshark, for instance, has a section of the app dedicated to fashion articles that customers can read through, as well as a space where they feature the latest fashion trends with their products. On the other hand, Kylie Cosmetics has a mobile experience that immerses you in an interactive virtual showroom where you come across avatars and are prompted to “shop this look.”
The opportunities for what brands can accomplish with a mobile app are extensive. Done right, a mobile app will go a long way to improving customer experiences, encouraging customers to become stronger advocates for the brand.
For teams exploring the possibility of building and deploying a mobile app, here are five key ways that a mobile app can contribute to improved customer experiences.
According to PwC’s Consumer Insights Survey, 80% of global consumers shopped across at least three different channels in the first half of 2022. Customers are looking to engage with DTC brands in ways that are convenient to them, choosing omnichannel experiences that meet their own unique needs.
By providing a mobile app equipped with a shopping experience that’s equal parts easy to navigate and delightful, brands can offer customers the flexibility they’re looking for. That way, look up a product on the web when they’re taking a break at work or shop from their phone while they’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment.
Giving customers convenience ultimately reflects well on the brand, helping them improve their reputation as a retailer that cares about their customers. This can go a long way towards encouraging the customer to engage even more with the brand and also recommend it to others.
More than ever, customers are looking for tailored experiences that reflect their preferences. They’re delighted by customized offerings based on their past shopping choices, and are quick to disengage if they feel like they’re receiving content or communications that don’t make sense for them. A mobile app can help provide these personalized experiences.
For starters, mobile apps offer an additional avenue through which to gather data about your customer behaviors. Plus, as the customer is signed in a brand’s app and they perform different activities within it (like adding an item to their wishlist), the brand can then use that information to share custom notifications when that item is back in stock or on sale, for example.
Mobile apps also give customers more control over how a brand communicates with them as they can set preferences around notifications, their wishlists, and more.
Fostering customer loyalty is important. At the end of the day, it’s cheaper to retain a customer than it is to secure a new one. Loyal customers will keep coming back and promote the brand — so it’s important to foster these relationships.
A mobile app can help do that. Firstly, it gives loyal customers yet another way to engage with their favorite brand, whether that’s scrolling through the product catalog, rating products, or responding to a push notification. In addition, brands that incorporate a loyalty program into their app, can also offer instant rewards, provide better product recommendations, and encourage social sharing.
In this way, a loyalty program can do more to delight and retain customers, while also facilitating higher engagement with the brand.
Building trust is a vital component of creating a strong relationship with customers — and trust requires communication. Just as customers will want to advocate for a brand when they’re happy, whether that’s through writing positive reviews or sharing good experiences on social media, they also need a channel for asking questions and sharing feedback. That’s where having a comprehensive, omnichannel customer service offering is important.
Again, customers appreciate variety and flexibility, so providing various ways for them to get in touch with the brand is important. Within a mobile app, brands can incorporate multiple communication methods so customers can reach out in a way that makes sense to them. This can include a chat, comment box, or a number to call from their mobile device. Having a part of the app dedicated to FAQs is also a great way of letting customers self-serve. The bonus? Brands can reduce the load on their team.
We’ve talked a lot about convenience so far, and that’s because it’s a key priority for consumers. One way that mobile apps can help retailers further deliver on this expectation is by ensuring that customers can access all of the information they need about their purchases while they’re on the go.
Picture it. A customer is out walking their dog, and they suddenly remember that the t-shirt they purchased from their favorite local brand should be arriving this week, but they can’t remember when exactly. Rather than have to scroll through their inbox for a confirmation email, they can just pop into the app and get the information within a few clicks. It’s this type of convenience that is key for encouraging loyalty and repeat purchases.
Today, providing convenient and delightful experiences to customers is a must. Brands that want to stand out and become customer favorites need to extend their digital presence to meet customers where they are. Building and deploying a mobile app is a key step to making that happen.
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