The holidays are right around the corner, and the retail industry is preparing for their busiest season of the year. Although the holiday rush is nothing new, retail has seen a shift in the way consumers engage with their brands and buy their products, largely thanks to mobile. Consumers will be using their mobile devices to purchase and interact with brands over the holidays whether the company is ready or not, but there’s still time to prepare!
To help us understand how the use of retail mobile apps is evolving, especially before the holidays, Apptentive recently conducted a consumer survey of 252 people between the ages of 18-65 who use iPhone and Androids daily. We’ll highlight some survey results, along with the implications for retailers as we approach the holiday shopping season.
Let’s dive in!
Mobile shopping around the holidays (and beyond) has changed
By now, it’s no surprise that consumers use retail mobile apps. Our survey revealed that 88% of consumers use them. It’s also no surprise that consumers use retail mobile apps while shopping in-store. 55% of people who use retail mobile apps said they use them while shopping in-store. However, the reasons consumers use retail mobile apps is shifting.
The ability to make purchases directly in apps has been around for several years, which has given consumers time to embrace the new channel. Now that consumers are comfortable using mobile apps to buy, the number of people who are doing so is increasing rapidly. Retail sales on smartphones grew by 54% between 2014 and 2015.
But while consumers still use apps to enhance their in-app experience, that’s not all they’re using them for. People are actually using retail apps to shop. Now that so many purchases are made via mobile apps, retailers need to make sure their mobile experiences are living up to consumer expectations.
What consumers expect from retail apps has changed
Thanks to the internet and smartphones, the world is more connected than ever. This has transformed our shopping experiences and our expectations of the brands we love. Since consumers use retail mobile apps while shopping in-store, a number of retailers have capitalized on and contributed to increasing expectations by finding ways to seamlessly connect their digital and physical experiences. Now that consumers are using mobile apps to actually make purchases, not just supplement their in-store shopping experiences, retailers need to invest in creating standalone mobile customer experiences now.
With the upcoming holiday season upon us, retailers can beef up their mobile strategies to support consumer expectations. Our survey found 65% of people who use retail mobile apps plan on using them for at least some of their holiday shopping, and 10% of consumers plan on using retail apps for almost all of their holiday shopping.This includes consumers who plan on making purchases in the app, and using apps to aid their in-store shopping needs.
Many retailers have mastered the in-app experience (think Amazon, Starbucks, and eBay), so it’s extremely apparent to consumers when the experience is bad. Consumers have little patience for bad mobile experiences, and if a mobile app doesn’t live up to their expectations, customers will ditch the app in favor of retailers who have great mobile experiences.
5 Tips to improve your mobile experience this holiday season
The need for a seamless mobile customer experience is more important than ever before. So what can retailers do to improve? Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Sync your mobile app with your loyalty program
Allowing customers to earn reward or loyalty points by using your mobile app (something
they’re already doing) not only improves their customer experience, it increases loyalty. By rewarding customers for using your mobile app, you add extra incentive for them to make purchases in the app, and decrease the likelihood they’ll
favor shopping with a competitor.
2. Ask for customer feedback
Asking customers for feedback increases your ability to problem solve without guessing.
Are customers abandoning their shopping cart, but you don’t know why? Don’t waste time
trying to deduce all of the different possibilities as to why this is an issue. Ask customers in
the app as soon as they abandon their cart. Ultimately, it will save you time and enable you to implement a solution quickly—reducing the amount of potential revenue lost.
3. Make your payment process easier
The ability to easily pay for purchases in a mobile app is in high demand. If the payment process is cumbersome, customers are more likely to abandon their shopping cart. Retailers that make buying easy (such as Amazon) reap the monetary rewards of their efforts. The quicker customers can check out, and happier they’ll be!
4. Connect online and in-store experiences
The importance of a positive mobile customer experience extends beyond purchases in the app. Our research shows 55% of people who use retail mobile apps have used them to browse, then purchase in-store at least once in the last month (we call this “approoming”). Not only does the mobile app experience need to be a standalone experience, it should also connect seamlessly with consumers’ physical experiences.
5. Measure and track customer sentiment
All companies want their customers to love them, but how do you know if you’ve earned that accolade without measuring customer love? It’s difficult to understand how your customers receive your brand, and how much they enjoy your customer experience, without consistently tracking customer sentiment. Supplemental to customer feedback, measuring customer sentiment will help teams across your organization learn and make business decisions. Your product, quality assurance, engineering, market research, and marketing teams all stand to gain insights from customer sentiment tracking.
Wrapping it up
It’s never too late to continue investing in mobile, but investment in retail mobile user experience is more important now than ever before. Before the holiday rush sets in, take time to revisit your mobile app strategy to ensure you’re providing the best possible experience for your customers. This is the perfect month to begin this process, so don’t delay!