Despite the rumored demise of the mall, in-store shopping is not dead. Rather, mobile shopping trends have changed the way in-store shopping fits into the overall equation.Though mCommerce (mobile shopping) is rapidly gaining in popularity, consumers aren’t neglecting in-store shopping, but rather using their mobile devices to enhance the experience. Consumers may choose to buy more items online, but that doesn’t change the things they love about being in a physical store, like being able to interact with products or get assistance from sales associates. Much of what is currently trending in mobile is designed around enhancing the customer’s path to purchase—no matter where they choose to buy—by offering the best of both physical and online shopping experiences.
The Integration of Features in Mobile Shopping Trends
Platforms are incorporating features that not only offer shopping but also elements that recreate the in-store experience. A few that intrigue consumers include:
- Artificial intelligence-powered sales assistants: In one study, 55% of consumers reported a preference for chatbots for customer service as it allows for an instant response. Aside from offering rapid assistance, advances in artificial intelligence make these bots capable of speaking naturally and offering a personalized experience. One of the old complaints about online shopping was about how impersonal the experience felt. With mobile app marketing programs like chatbots and virtual assistants, consumers can get their questions answered with a human touch, and the company can answer customers’ questions and concerns.
- Augmented reality: Many brands have been rolling out augmented reality features to improve the consumer experience. Target and IKEA are two examples of companies using AR, which allows consumers to visualize products—such as furniture—in their home before purchase.
- Rewards: Many companies are offering rewards points as a means of engaging consumers. Some have extended their rewards programs to mobile. Using a mobile campaign increases the likelihood that consumers will participate, as the program is simple, easy to use and manage, and with the customer virtually everywhere.
- Digital integration with physical: While mobile apps are designed for use anywhere, they have the added advantage of also allowing marketers to target users based on location. Shopping options can be tailored to distinct to locations, allowing brands to reach consumers in the shopping aisle. Enabling consumers to order via mobile and pick their item up in the store has been highly successful. Curbside pickup, where consumers order many things and have them delivered to their car is an in-demand feature.
These are just a few of the features that consumers want to see integrated into mobile platforms. However, the more features an app supports, the more expensive it will be to develop and maintain. Some companies choose to make an end run around this costliness, while still taking advantage of a plethora of features, by partnering with third-party apps.
Leveraging Mobile Shopping Trends With Third-Party Apps
Creating success with mCommerce is not just a matter of building a perfect app, it’s also a matter of gaining adoption. In one study, the majority of consumers, 64%, didn’t even know if their favorite retailer had an app. Building an app requires the support of an entire company.
Some retailers choose to partner with third-party apps, which can offer a feature-rich mobile experience for consumers at a lower cost to the retailer. A few of the benefits of these apps include:
- Built-in audience: Because third-party apps primarily focus on customer-facing advertising, their primary goals are adoption and retention of users. Access to the audience of a third-party can expose a brand or retailer to a group that may not already be familiar with their offerings.
- Specialization: Retailers are often challenged by app development, as it is not the primary focus of their business. Because third-party app developers specialize in apps, they have the expertise needed to produce an app with proven sales conversion potential.
- Inherited trust: Gaining consumer trust is one of the most significant challenges in the mobile commerce sales funnel. In the U.S., consumers cite security concerns as their primary reason for cart abandonment. Partnering with an established shopping app, like Shopkick, allows brands to engage a new audience without the barrier of security concerns. The brand can leverage the trust the shopping app has already established.
Some retailers choose to partner with third-party apps, which can offer a feature-rich mobile experience for consumers at a lower cost to the retailer.
These are just three of the benefits of using third-party shopping apps as part of an mCommerce strategy. These apps can offer better features and an established audience that brands and retailers can use to improve their sales efforts in the mobile commerce space and beyond.
With mobile apps, companies can capitalize on the mobile shopping trends of 2018. They can also integrate digital and physical spaces, allowing consumers to enjoy the best parts of both shopping experiences. Companies that wish to compete in the mCommerce space should work with third-party apps to establish new audiences and gain sales.
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