For many retailers, making the choice to build a mobile app is somewhat daunting. It is a pricey investment that isn’t necessarily right for every business, and can often not pay off in the way you hope. We see a lot of retailers in this position, and we’ve come up with some frequently asked questions that make help expedite the process of going mobile.

Q: I’m thinking about my mobile strategy for 2018, should I build an app?

A: For retailers thinking about going mobile, there are several things to consider before moving forward. Namely, what are the advantages and disadvantages to building a mobile app? To assess this question I’ve whipped up a quick pros and cons list:

  • Pros:
    • Personalize User Experience: With a native app you are able to personalize offers, loyalty schemes, competitions and send push notifications to encourage further user engagement.
    • More Access to Customer Info: By requesting, say, a Facebook login for your app, you can gather more valuable information about your customers.
    • More Control of UI: With a native app rather than a mobile website, you have much better screen usage because you are not in a browser window, and more control over the view that the customer sees.
    • Better Use of Smartphone Features: By making a mobile app, you are able to take advantage of the various smartphone tools such as camera and GPS.
  • Cons:
    • Apps need to be downloaded: An app loses 20% of its users with every step between the user’s first contact with the app and when the users actually begin to use the app.
    • Apps need to be upgraded: Yet another step that users often neglect.
    • Needs to be built for each platform: Unlike a website, apps need to be compatible with all the different mobile platforms. This means a longer and more costly development time.
    • Higher expectations: Users have very high expectations for apps, and it is such a competitive arena for different retailers that one wrong move can cause your customers to switch to a competitor.

As a side note, many of these cons can be mitigated by choosing a Progressive Web App (PWA) rather than a native app. For more information about PWAs, click here.

Q: What do I need to consider before building a mobile app?

A: If you’ve decided to invest in a mobile app, there are a few important things to keep in mind going forward:

  • Keep it simple: The most successful apps are those that perform a simple set of tasks quickly and efficiently. Your app should solve a problem or significantly improve the user’s experience.
  • Understand where it fits into your customer’s journey: It’s really important to understand the role that your app will play in your customer’s journey. For instance, some retailers use their apps to encourage users to make purchase while they are in-store, while other retailers use their apps to introduce gamification into the shopping experience. There are many different ways a retail app can be used, and it is important to figure out what is best for your customers before moving forward.
  • Know who you are targeting: Be aware of who is going to be using your app, and target those customers. A customer who has downloaded your app is probably a fan of the brand in question and will require different engagement than browsers or passers-by. The app shopper is more likely to be loyal to the brand, making impulsive purchase decisions during a break or commute. App content and user experience should reflect this to provide a proposition that suits this customer base.

Q: How do I onboard new customers once my app is released?

A: When making a mobile app, it’s important to have a marketing plan so that people will actually download your app once it is released. Here are a few quick tips to gain customers once your app is released:

  • Know your customer and competition: Understand your target customers and what keywords they may use to search in the app store.
  • Choose relevant keywords in title: Going off of the previous bullet, it is important to add relevant keywords to your app’s title so that it is easily findable.
  • Good description and screenshots: To further your app’s pre-download appeal, add a compelling description and sceenshots to highlight the app’s best attributes.
  • Index your app: Indexing allows you to drive app installs from search listings. 40% of all searches now return app indexed results.
  • Outside promotion: There are over 1.5 billion daily active mobile users on Facebook. Leverage this traffic to drive downloads, adoption and awareness via Facebook by investing in Facebook ads.
  • Smart banner on website: Use a smart banner to direct customers from your website to download your app.

Q: What e-commerce platforms do you integrate with?

A: We use three main e-commerce platforms to optimize retail apps:

  • MailChimp: MailChimp allows you to use your purchase data to send personalized campaigns and better understand how your marketing affects your bottom line.
  • Klaviyo: Klaviyo provides an easy way for marketers to target, personalize, measure and optimize email and Facebook campaigns.
  • Urban Airship: Urban Airship allows retailers to reach their customers via notification-style messages. These can be sent at every step in the customer journey to keep the customer updated and involved.

Q: What is the total annual cost for building and maintaining a mobile app?

A: This can vary drastically depending on the type of app and features you need. To find out more information on the cost of building and maintaining your app, visit our pricing page.


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