To even talk about the growing ubiquity of mobile technology is redundant. But as global mobile usage increases, businesses of all sizes need new strategies for exploring and profiting from these new markets. In this article, we will argue for the necessity of mobile app development for ecommerce businesses who want to make it big in the long run.
But first, let us address an all too common question…
I Have a Mobile Website; Do I Still Need an App for my Brand?
As mobile device and mobile internet usage surged in the last decade, companies realized the importance of a mobile presence. Some developed stand-alone mobile websites, while others opted for responsive web design, which is more flexible and cost-effective. Businesses that didn’t bother with mobile website development faced the consequences in the form of lost customers. They simply failed to realize what had hit them.
But the companies who have an operational mobile website, do they still need to invest in app development? Wouldn’t this simply be duplication of effort?
The answer is a resounding ‘no’!
We have noted how mobile apps are largely gaining popularity among online shopper, and a host of reasons firmly explain why this is so:
People are increasing searching for products online using mobile apps mostly because it is more convenient for them. It is already easy to simply pull out your Smartphone and search for your favorite brands on the way to the store, so just imagine the convenience of having a shopping downloaded on your device that even gives you timely updates on the best deals. Most of it works even when you are not connected to internet. What can be simpler for a shopper?
With mobile apps, you can provide customers very trendy & innovative features which are not easily possible on responsive or desktop websites. e.g. live trial of a dress i.e. to show a user how a dress will look when put on his photograph uploaded through the App. Or if the spectacles frame will suit his face – he or she can simply pull their face photo from the mobile photo gallery and apply a particular frame through the product page of the app on their photo. With the advancement of technology, today AR app developers can also equip apps with this feature as an augmented reality display.
Preference of Mobile Apps over Mobile Websites
Till now, mobile device users were preferring websites over apps, especially when it comes to purchasing products from ecommerce websites. However, recent trends are showing that apps are rapidly becoming the preferred medium by consumers for ecommerce purchases instead of mobile websites. And the fact is that this trend is going to increase in the favor of Apps only. Some of the ecommerce companies are even trying App only days of shopping or App only discounts.
The Stats Speak Mobile App vs. Mobile Website
In fact, more than 40% of all Smartphone and tablet users have said that they prefer mobile apps over mobile websites in the context of online shopping. On Smartphone, users are 56% more likely to make an ecommerce purchase, while on tablets, there is a 60% chance. The tab users are almost having 50-50 preference of mobile apps vs. mobile websites. Now even if we suppose that these numbers are not going up anytime soon, that is still a hefty chunk of the market that you are ignoring.
Push Notifications – An Undisputed New Medium to Engage the Customer
Push notifications are an incredible tool to drive repeat users and hence sales in an ecommerce mobile app. They notify the user of an app about new messages or events even when she/he is not actively using it. Research shows that 60% of mobile users open ‘push notifications’ and a majority of these users immediately interact with an app following the notification. And instead of being perceived as spam, push notifications actually lead to more app opens and increase in social sharing. Hence, designing an app with push capabilities ensures that your customers keep interacting with your business even when they are not browsing your company website or its social media pages.
But Don’t Forget The Most Significant Reason: Competition
Today, virtually all big companies have their own mobile apps, which in itself proves the worth of the technology. So why should you lag behind?
Budget considerations aside, but many business owners think that they will invest in the technology ‘when the time is right’ or that they will ultimately ‘catch up’. But this is a recipe for disaster. Not investing in app development will only make your business irrelevant as more and more ecommerce customers are flocking towards mobile applications.
Cost-Effectiveness of mobile devices
Smartphone companies will ultimately have to offer competitive prices to stay in business. Already there are many cheaper brands offering similar smartphone features as by iPhone. This means that ultimately as smartphone become more cost-effective, their usage will increase significantly, boosting the mobile market share. This will have an impact on even those customers who use more premium mobile devices, like the iPad. Ultimately your customer is going to look for a mobile app of his favorite brand, and if you are not going to provide that, than s/he will jump to a competitor.
Privacy ensured on mobile devices
Also remember that using a phone for browsing is not only cheaper, but also more private. These are the qualities that most internet users prefer. Hence, the mass exodus to mobile apps is inevitable.
(Relatively)Fewer Security Risks
At first, people were reluctant to shop from ecommerce websites due to hacking and malware threats. However, with passing years, today’s ecommerce platforms have not only become more dynamic and efficient, but robust and secure as well. Mobile payments are a breeze, and other security considerations have largely been answered.
Quick & Easy Customer Feedback
A great reason of ecommerce success of websites like Amazon is their customer feedback process. With mobile app development, you can track customer preferences more easily. It has been observed that people are more likely to attempt and complete marketing surveys on their smartphones as compared to a desktop. Customer feedback help you what products are in demand, which not only aids in marketing, but also informs how much you should stock or do away with. It is also a great tool to address customer grievances and provide them help in time rather than losing them In fact, successful businesses are those who ultimately implement customer feedback as a regular process. This always keep you ahead of your competitors and it is most effective and convenient through Mobile Apps.
Ultimately what keeps any business running is long-term customer retention. This is done by not only reaching customers at all touch points, but also analyzing their past behavior to design future strategies to provide the best shopping experience to them. As of now, statistics suggest that you simply cannot achieve all this without integrating ecommerce mobile apps in your business strategy. Rather than a fancy add-on, a mobile app is the very backbone of your e-store. Unless you start thinking in these terms, you will always remain behind your competitors.