Retail consumer apps: How to engage in-store shoppers on mobile devices

Many retailers view mobile apps only as an expansion of their online shopping space, and not as a route to in-store sales. This is a mistake. By their very nature, consumers use apps while on the go and, more often than many retailers believe, they’re using them for in-store shopping. When you’re evaluating which features to offer consumers within a retail app, you must think beyond online shopping. You must connect current consumer retail app technology to a physical, brick and mortar shopping experience.

retail apps for consumersIn order to evolve along with the modern shopper, retailers must be ready to acknowledge and capitalize on the fact that mobile shopping is only one component of the consumer retail app experience. Any brand can build an mCommerce space. However, innovative retail mobile apps have additional success when they’re designed to work in-store, traveling with the consumers as they visit brick and mortar locations.

Retail companies, then, need a thorough understanding of exactly what these users are looking for—and must be prepared to deliver it, either via a branded, proprietary option or by partnering with an established third-party shopping app.  

What Retail Consumer Apps Must Offer In-Store Shoppers

Retailers need to take a consumer first approach to retail app development as adoption is key in order to achieve a return on investment for your marketing dollars. Consumers generally prefer retail shopping apps that:

  • Provide convenience: Convenience is the main reason that consumers use apps. In fact, the majority of consumers, 60%, will choose an app over a store’s website. This is because they’re using the app as they’re out and about and smartphone apps, unlike many websites, are designed to cater specifically to mobile device users.
  • Create a connection: 48% of smartphone users say apps strengthen the brand connection when they feel like the app caters to their specific and individual needs. Consumers want shopping apps to feel like their personal concierge service; i.e. that the app guides them and tells them what they need to know about the retail store and its brands as applies to them, thus creating a connection.  
  • Offer in-store options: About 77% of smartphone users have used their devices to help them shop while they’re in the seemingly endless retail aisles. Creating an in-store experience via a mobile app is a key factor in encouraging consumer use.
  • A memorable customer experience: If the consumer using the retail app runs into an issue with the technology more than once, about 54% will delete it. Meanwhile, 21% will seek out an app with similar functionality to replace it with. That means you have a very small window of opportunity when it comes to keeping consumers loyal to your app.

One thing that should be noted about all these attributes and features is that most consumers are not loyal to a specific retailer’s app. A retailer can use a third-party option and get the same results, provided that third-party app offers a positive, engaging, and somewhat personalized experience. In fact, a third-party app may even provide more opportunities than a branded app.  

Why Retail Stores Are Partnering With Third-Party Shopping Apps

Creating a retail consumer app that combines all of the functionality and features that consumers demand is often an arduous and expensive process. However, partnering with a third-party shopping app can allow you to leverage all of the advantages of offering a retail app while minimizing your expenses. In addition, these shopping apps offer a few benefits that branded retail in-store apps can’t, including:

  • A wider audience: If your current target audience is already using your branded store app, they’re included in your current market share as well. However, by partnering with a third-party shopping app, you can expand that target audience—and, therefore, your market share—by gaining access to consumers who may not yet be regular or loyal shoppers.
  • Fast innovation: While retailers develop apps as a single component of their marketing campaign, app development companies have a singular focus. They are, therefore, in a position to take advantage of technological innovations, like smarter beacons and cross-platform functionality, much faster than companies who aren’t at the forefront of new technology.
  • Incentivizing without discounting: Third-party shopping apps often gain consumer interest by offering rewards. This allows their partner brands to gain in-store attention without having to discount their products. Retail apps, on the other hand, are often designed around promotions and discounts as a means of gaining buyer engagement. That’s a costly strategy that hurts ROI and the company’s bottom line.

Third-party shopping apps leverage the opportunities that mobile advertising provides without forcing individual retailers to develop and attract an audience for a branded, niche app. If you choose to partner with an existing shopping app that offers high engagement rates, you can reach out to a new group of consumers while seamlessly offering them exactly what they’re looking for—convenience and personalization.

When you’re using a retail consumer app to grow your market share, increase brand awareness, or build your company’s reputation, you need to maintain a focus on user experience, something that is automatic when you partner with a popular third-party option already established on the market. If consumers are actively engaged with the app to assist them as they shop, you are guaranteed an opportunity to travel with them into stores—and reach them when it matters most.

Shopkick offers their partners a shopping app platform for reaching customers with proven ROI—their active user base is proof of the effectiveness of their strategy. If you want to learn more about partnering with a third-party shopping app, and what it can do for your brand, contact the Shopkick team today.

Image courtesy gstockstudio