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These 3 retail mobile app trends will drive ROI in 2021

Mobile apps are among the most effective retail marketing strategies today. While a mobile website might offer a 1.5-2% conversion rate, native mobile apps convert 3x the amount of traffic to sale with an average 6% conversion rate. To keep costs down, a retailer might consider partnering with an existing mobile shopping app to avoid the costs of development or to complement an existing loyalty program. Looking ahead to the future, omnichannel shopping, beacon technology, and augmented reality have been some of the top retail mobile app trends that are likely to continue delivering a high return on investment (ROI) well into 2021.  

1. Providing a Full Omnichannel Experience

The buyer’s journey is complex. Rarely anymore does a shopper begin and finish the process using one channel. In fact, one in three apparel shopping trips involves an omnichannel experience. Customers expect and appreciate the ability to shop wherever and whenever they want, whether in-store, online, or on-the-go through a mobile app. 

Shoppers who have the flexibility to tailor their shopping experience to their preferences will reward accommodating retailers with their loyalty. More than half of shoppers expect the ability to pick up online and mobile app purchases in-store (BOPIS, curbside pickup, etc.). Best of all, 85% of BOPIS shoppers end up purchasing more items and spending more once they’re in-store. 

Physical store inventory information published online or in-app is very important to 39% of shoppers who say they are “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to visit a retailer’s store if such data is not provided. Mobile devices play a significant role in the omnichannel experience, with 56% of consumers using their smartphones to research products at home, 38% checking inventory availability on their way to a store, and 34% researching products while in a store.    

Statistics reveal the financial incentives for bolstering omnichannel shopping capabilities:

  • Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater customer retention.
  • Omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than single-channel customers.
  • Strong omnichannel retailers see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue.
  • Weak omnichannel retailers see a 3.4% year-over-year increase in annual revenue.

Shoppers like being able to buy across channels as they please, but they also want reassurance that customer service across channels will be just as readily available should they need post-purchase assistance. Nine out of ten consumers want an omnichannel experience that offers seamless customer service. A comprehensive customer service strategy typically consists of mobile chat, in-app assistance, and social media response features. Although this may sound daunting to establish, especially if you have to start from scratch, one study found that implementing omnichannel customer service solutions achieved over a 150% ROI. 

2. Implementing Beacon Technology 

Beacon transmitters allow communication between retail sensors and mobile devices using Bluetooth signals. Since debuting in 2013, they’ve dominated proximity marketing technology, accounting for 65% of the systems compared to 20% WiFi and 15% near-field communication (NFC). 

Beacon technology can be used in a variety of ways. Data gathered from beacon-connected shopping apps can tell retailers which days and times people are most active in-store. It can also show which items are frequently purchased together on the same trip, and when checkout lines typically peak. Retailers can use this information to target relevant offers and increase shopper engagement in-stores.

Beacons also allow for more personalized services to shoppers by: 

  • Sending location details for products on a shopper’s list, or promotional information regarding nearby products. 
  • Alerting shoppers that an item placed in a mobile shopping cart is in-stock at a nearby store. 
  • Notifying in-store shoppers of additional colors and styles available online only. 
  • Playing an informative video that is triggered when a consumer is near the product category in-aisle, drawing attention away from competitors.
  • Sending details of a product’s materials and sourcing via “smart mannequins” if a shopper is lingering nearby. 
  • Offering a reward for completing a desired in-store activity. For instance, Shopkick uses beacon technology to alert shoppers of in-store offers when they’re nearby, and rewards them with “kicks” upon walking in. Beacon-transmitted messages are opened 53% of the time compared to a 14% open rate for standard push notifications. 

One study found that over 70% of shoppers said beacon offers made them more likely to visit a store and make a purchase. Over 60% of holiday shoppers said they’d buy more at a store that sent mobile offers while they shopped and would like to visit these retailers more often. Not only can beacon devices expand your customer base, but they can also increase revenue by 9% and produce a 175% ROI. 

3. Offering Augmented Reality

Virtual or augmented reality (AR) have been popular buzzwords for years now, but the retail AR market is expected to top $1.6 billion by 2025. Across all markets, AR is forecasted to reach $35 billion. For 2020, the adoption of AR took off faster than expected out of necessity, as retailers grappled with adapting to a pandemic-stricken world. 

retail mobile app trendsConsumer reception to AR has been very warm. Sixty-one percent of shoppers say they prefer to shop with retailers who offer AR experiences. Sixty-eight percent of consumers say they spent more time handling a product as a result of AR and 72% of shoppers said they’ve bought products they didn’t plan on purchasing due to an AR interaction. To date, approximately 32% of retail shoppers are regular users of AR, with 73% of smartphone AR users “highly satisfied” with these experiences. The ROI value is plain to see, and the applications seemingly endless.

Walgreens is experimenting with AR mapping technology to help shoppers find what they need. Feasibly—using this same technology—shoppers looking for breakfast cereal could specify that they want a brand that is low in sugar, highly rated, and on sale. As the shopper pans a mobile device across the shelf, the AR shopping app will reveal the cereals that match these criteria. 

Different colors of lipstick, eyeshadow, and false lashes can be virtually applied through the Sephora app. Using Sephora’s Virtual Artist, consumers can view tutorials for contouring, applying highlighter, and creating winged eyeliner effects—all overlaid over their own faces. By using face scans, Sephora’s AR can recommend products and skin regimens. 

Heinz uses AR packaging to offer recipes and interactive food demos when consumers scan their packaging. Pharmaceutical companies can offer similar package scans to help shoppers know whether there are contraindications or product interactions they should know about.

Mobile apps with AR technology are developed for different purposes. Pre-sale furniture sellers like Ikea can allow shoppers to see what a sofa would look like in their living room, whether a fridge would fit their kitchen’s dimensions, or whether an area rug would perfectly match their drapes. More than half of shoppers (61%) say they prefer to shop with retailers who offer such experiences.

Apparel retailers can use AR to take a custom measurement and recommend the perfect fit. Brazilian retailer C&A lets smartphone shoppers aim their devices at an item in-store to bring up the “look” online, which also shows reviews and the number of friends who like it, enabling the shopper to buy with confidence. In fact, 71% of customers said they would shop more often if they could use AR technology.

This holiday season, consumers may be able to point their phones at a new gadget they’ve just unwrapped to access an AR overlay instruction manual that shows what each button does and how to best start operating the new product. 

The ROI of AR-enabled mobile apps can range from 10 to 200%. The adoption of AR technology has been associated with conversion rate increases of 40%. It also has been shown to cut both decisioning-time in half and returns by a quarter. Nearly half of customers (40%) say they will pay more for a product that could be customized using AR. It is predicted that AR will be responsible for over a trillion dollars in sales in 2020, so it’s time retailers begin adopting this world-class enhancement to the shopping experience. 

Put Retail Mobile App Trends Into Action With Shopkick

With omnichannel experiences, beacons, and augmented reality all trending as we head into 2021, retailers will be looking for ways to utilize these three strategies. Shopkick is a mobile shopping platform that always strives to be on the cutting edge of retail trends and provide partnering retailers and brands with nothing short of the latest tools and techniques. 

Within our single rewards program, we offer partnering retailers and brands the ability to incorporate the latest retail mobile app trends into their carefully curated Shopkick campaigns. Shopkickers can earn “kicks” (reward points) through a multitude of engaging activities, such as browsing partner videos and lookbooks digitally, triggering beacons by walking into partnering retailers’ stores, scanning promoted items in-aisle, and making select purchases. Our platform also uses gamification techniques to help consumers discover products in-store, scan UPCs, and earn kicks for their in-store engagement.

In order to succeed in the ever-expanding, dynamic retail landscape, retailers will need to be at the forefront of their industries heading into 2021 and beyond.

A great jumping-off point is fortifying retail strategies with the most profitable trends. 

Get ahead of the curve with Shopkick by incorporating the top retail mobile app trends into your retail strategy. Read our success stories, then contact us to become a partner and earn greater returns on your marketing investments. 

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Image courtesy of GaudiLab