Mobile Commerce Trends to Watch Out for in 2019

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2019 isn’t waiting for anyone, so the time is now to start planning for your store’s best year to date.

We’ve been keeping our ear to the ground and here are some of the top trends we expect to grow in mobile commerce.

1) Omni-Channel Experiences

98% of shoppers switch devices throughout their day. It’s critical that your customers experience a consistent shopping flow across all of your platforms; website, Facebook, Instagram, mobile app, emails and the list goes on…

2) One-Click Checkouts

We’re all being trained by the Amazon Standard of shopping. We expect items in 2 days, to read helpful buyer reviews and most importantly – to checkout in a hurry.

It’s critical to reward your loyal shoppers by allowing them to check out in as few clicks as possible, remember their preferred shipping info and payment options. There’s a reason that Amazon’s mobile app is their largest channel. Launch your app in 2019 and increase returning customers.

3) Expect to See More Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is the future of convenience shopping. As the technology gains accuracy, the more we’ll be using it to modal furniture in our houses, clothes in our outfits and shoes on our feet.

There’s a few apps out there from large brands like Ikea and Warby Parker that take advantage of this burgeoning area. As more developers figure it out, expect to see it trickle down to more SMBs

Bringing AR to E-Commerce

Apple recently announced iOS 12 at their developer conference. Along with with a handful of incremental updates, there was a big emphasis on their new AR Kit.

With technologies biggest mover putting skin in the AR game, we’ll begin to see more and more AR in our daily lives and eventually trickle into shopping experiences. Shopify also announced that they will bring Apple’s latest AR tech to their platform and give stores new opportunities to implement AR to their products.

What Does AR Mean for My Website Design?

AR offers a shopping experience that a series of photos could never offer. It allows users to engage with your products without ever leaving their house. It will become essential to showcase your products like this, front and center, to offer a cutting edge shopping experience.

Compiling 3d images is a task that Shopify is diligently and iteratively solving. There will be a large upfront challenge to capture these renderings of existing products, but it will be critical for future-proofing your shopping experience. These is the largest hurdle retailers currently face in the AR world from a resources standpoint.

Bringing AR to Mobile

Shopify is doing their best to bring their AR feature set to mobile internet browsing experiences, but they’re not quite there yet. The best option is to still bringing AR to a native application.

If you’re interested in turning your Shopify store into a native app with an AR shopping experience, feel free to grab a time to chat about it with us.

Using Smart Design to Improve Your E-Commerce Store

In the next few blog post, we’re going to uncover some of the best ways to optimize your e-commerce store for checkout. A checkout flow might seem obvious to you, but it’s likely harming your revenue more than you realize. 

Anytime I consult on optimizing an e-commerce store, I ask the contact person these 3 questions…

1) What problem are you trying to solve? Most of the time, the answer is pretty simple. People are always hoping to decrease abandon cart, increase sales conversion rates or maybe solicit email list registrants. Whatever the problem you’re trying to solve – make sure it’s clearly defined because it’s crucial for the next step.

2) Is there data to PROVE this problem exists? We live in a day in age that allows us to track every click, scroll and engagement on our websites. If you can’t provide data that prove this problem exists – go back to step one and make sure you’re able to PROVE this problem exists. 

If you have the data to prove the problem – give yourself a pat on the back. Now take a few minutes to hypothesize what might improve the solution. Take time to think about the less obvious things; button position and color, call-to-actions, and the sequence of which things are displayed. These are all easy things to a/b test

**It’s also important to compare your stats with other players in the industry. You might be trying to optimize an already optimized figure**

3) What does success look like to you? You’ve already provided the analytics that prove what problem exists, now define a scenario in which you have “solved” the problem. It’s important to be realistic with your goals here. No one is going to increase conversion by 33% and you should know that a 3-8% improvement is a win. 

Later this week, we’ll be going through more scenarios of improving your store’s performance in more focused segments. These 3 questions will be acting as the groundwork 

How Apps Became the Largest Mobile Revenue Channel

If you blinked, you might have missed it… In 2018, it’s expected that United States shoppers will make over $118 billion in retail purchases on their smartphones. A stunning 66% of those purchases will occur in a mobile app. 

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, but mobile shoppers are the fasting growing group of any shoppers.

For any brand or retailer that is looking to grow their customer base, it’s impossible to ignore mobile apps. A lot of marketing and e-commerce approach these stats with skepticism though and many immediately ask how did they become so popular and what value do they actually add?

The answer is more obvious then you might think – every consumer has a finite amount of attention and space on their mobile device. Convincing any user to download your app on to their phone is a chance to capture their attention for as many hours a day they’re on their phone.

It also creates an unparalleled shopping experience for your loyal users. They’ll be the first to know about promos and collection announcements from push notifications. Their payment info is securely and they can quickly complete purchases with streamlined two-click checkouts.

The biggest value marketers find from having an app in the real world is the data that’s now available. Get further insights to consumers’ behavior, what type of device they’re using and a treasure chest information associated with Facebook logins.

If you take a step back and objectively look at all of these features, it’s easy to see why mobile apps are taking over.

The last thing I’ll tell you about is the most common pushback I hear on a daily basis; “we’re too small – who would download our app?”. The answer is your most loyal customers. Everyone is fighting to create and define a brand that is always on their customer’s mind. Lean into the fall and give them the app they’re looking for.

Powerful Push Notifications – Tips and Tricks

Powerful push notifications have forever changed the way brands and retailers can engage and communicate with their customers.

With Sandbox Commerce, it’s easy to send push notifications that direct users to collections, items, and other promotions

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Here are some tried and tested suggestions for deploying push notifications that will get opened, help with customer engagement and drive sales:

  • Make it short and sweet: This will likely be the first content your customers will be engaging with through your app. Using humor, current events or a pun or two is even encouraged.
  • Use app-exclusive promotions: Creating a culture where your customers know that the best deals come from the app is an easy way to build loyalty. These first subscribers will be first to know about promotions and discounts that can only be found on the app. Don’t be shy about directing them to original content and collections – this all helps build buzz and engagement
  • Directing to a product or collection: as mentioned in the previous point, it’s important to direct users to a product or collection. It’s a simple call to action and you can choose to feature any collection or item in your store.
  • Sending push notifications regularly: Don’t be a stranger to your customer. Set a schedule and stay fresh in their minds by regularly engaging with your customers. It’s always important to use their time wisely – send them to original content, in-app promotions or new product/collection releases.

Push notifications are one of the best ways to bring traffic to your store and boost sales. The Sandbox App Builder allows you to do this with just a few clicks and agencies and other paid marketing. By encouraging your customers to download your app, you’re opening a whole new way to engage with your users and built a loyal following.

Creating an App that Matches Your Brand

Sandbox Commerce’s App Builder offers a robust set of tools that make our apps feel like a natural extension of your brand.

A blank canvas can be a daunting place to start, but we try to make it as easy as possible for you to customize your app and have it look great on iOS and Android. We’ll outline all the steps and show you how easy it is!

  1. Upload Logos: Our image uploader makes it easy for you to upload all of your brand’s logos. There are only two different logo sizes we require to make your app look fabulous. First, we’ll need a rectangular 3:2 logo. This will live in the top nav bar of your app and a couple other menus. Secondly, you’ll need to supply a square favicon logo. This will live on your splash screen and most importantly — your app icon.
  2. Brand Colors: We did our best to simplify all color options down to just a few choices. You’ll have to pick a background, button and a few text colors for your app. This can all be easily done with copy and pasting a hexcode or using or color picker.
  3. Adding Items & Categories: When I build an app for a customer, the first thing I do is see what items and categories are featured on their website’s homepage. On our App Builder Homepage, you can easily drag-and-drop the order of different selections and items. This makes it easy to adjust for a seasonal change or emphasize a flash sale.

Striking the balance between customization and simplicity is a constant balancing act. The Sandbox App Builder walks the tightrope and easily let’s e-commerce stores publish apps that fit their brand.

Turning Your Shopify Store into an App

Small side hustles have a lot more in common with mega-brands like Red Bull, Budweiser, and Tesla Motors then you might think. The common denominator here is that they all manage their content with Shopify.

Shopify has done an amazing job at leveling the playing field and offering enterprise level tools for a small monthly fee. With the existing landscape, these established brands have had to come up with new ways to stand out (queue the intro music for mobile apps). They’ve used mobile apps to create sleeker shopping experiences for their customers and distribute more engaging content.

The problem smaller retailers traditionally had was that they couldn’t justify the cost of building iPhone and Android apps – it was just too far out of reach. In the same way, Shopify leveled the playing field for organizing inventory and SKUs, Sandbox Commerce can turn your existing Shopify store into an app with 3 easy steps.

  1. Login and Connect your Shopify Store: as soon as you connect your store, we’ll import all of your inventory, items, and collections. We’ll also track them in real-time – no extra hurdles.
  2. Design Your App: Upload logos and match your branding guidelines with our intuitive app builder. You can easily drag-and-drop to customize your home page and show off your seasonal products
  3. Publish: As soon as you finish customizing your app, you can hit publish! From there, our team of internal testers will run through a quality assurance test and make sure your app is up to our standards. From there it’s ready to submit to Apple and Android marketplaces.

Just like Shopify, we only collect a monthly fee to maintain and deploy updates to your app. There are no setup fees and we’re constantly adding new features. Design your own app with a 7-day free trial!

Mobile Experiential Shopping (Not the Gimmicky Kind)

Creating a mobile app that nearly clones the mobile-browser shopping experience offers little value to consumers and business owners. E-commerce platforms like Shopify and Big Commerce have gotten so good at mobile-browser shopping, that the need to purchase items in-app is nearly non-existent.

Brands and retailers that are hoping to offer more to their loyalist have been forced to refocus on creating mobile apps that offer value through experiences, rather than seamless shopping experiences. Here are a few trends that are taking off to create amazing user shopping experiences:

  • AR (that actually gives customers value)

Furniture retailers are dominating this area and solving one of their oldest and most daunting issues…. the question of ‘how will it look in my house?’. These apps just require you to point your camera at an area of the house and like magic, you can see exactly how it looks. Check out this great demo from Magnolia and Ikea’s app.

  • User-Specific Personalization 

Brands are beginning to use big data to create better and more meaningful products for customers. Combine a slick interface with on-demand manufacturing and you have great companies like Son of a Tailor. They’ll make high-quality t-shirts to your exact specs. It’s easy to imagine how a customer becomes an evangelist of a great fitting shirt with their initials on it.

Going beyond the standard mobile shopping app is inevitable. What that feature looks like for each brand and industry is still a bit of a mystery, but it’s an exciting time at the least. Making the barrier of entry lower for turning a Shopify store into an iOS app is just the first step. We’re excited to keep working with ambitious brands and create immersive ways to engage customers.

The Rise of The Social Seller

The ticket for entry in becoming an online retailer has never been more accessible. One after another, companies like WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, and Instagram have brought the brilliant operations of Big Box Retailers to makers, side hustlers and early stage founders alike.

Starting at $99 per month, you’ll be able to use the classic Sandbox Commerce platform to design and launch your app within a week.

This variety of great vendors and their abilities to meet any sized business’ goals has ushered in a golden age of e-commerce. It’s hard to talk to anyone in your social circle who doesn’t have some kind of e-commerce side-hustle that they juggle between their 9-to-5 day job. These hustlers have grown incredibly talented at growing organic social media campaigns and leveraging social networks to accelerate their business to a point were their day job isn’t looking so tempting anymore.

As the Head of Growth at Sandbox Commerce, I spend 80% of my day communicating with online brands and retailers. Traditionally I focused on ‘medium to large’ folks, but the social seller kept showing up on my radar in a more frequent occurrence each day. After collecting swaths of customer feedback, Sandbox Commerce is excited to announce  SandBox Commerce for Social Sellers tier of our platform.

Starting at $99 per month, you’ll be able to use the classic Sandbox Commerce platform to design and launch your app within a week. You’ll have the option to launch on either iOS or the Android marketplace and have access to key features like of push notifications to let your entire audience to engage your audience with in stock notifications and and exclusive sales that increase your ROI.

We’re excited to add another tool to the toolbox for the social seller and get them one step closer to competing with the big shots. We’ll be launching the all new Social Seller tier on May 15th, but you can sign up for early access here.

Introducing SandBox Commerce Engage

Actionable data” is one of those phrases that you’ve likely seen being tossed around in online digital marketing forums but haven’t had the time to really understand what it means to you and your business. From Google Analytics to Facebook for Business to Intercom;  a ton of tools promise to provide insights that help brands and retailers better understand who their customers are, but few actually provide the tools that a small/midsize business needs to deliver the ROI without hiring a third-party consultant. One proven tool that online retailers and digital agencies seem to underutilize today is the power of push notifications.

Take a moment to envision a sleek mobile app for your store that properly represents your brand, more than pays for itself and is custom built to increase engagement with your most loyal customers  – extending their relationship with your brand and encouraging them to shop more on the go.

Sandbox Commerce is tailor-made for mid-size retailers and digital marketing teams who have limited time and even smaller budgets to leverage actionable data from multiple touch-points to increase engagement with their most loyal shoppers.

Global brands and retailers in nearly every vertical have been leveraging the power of push notifications for years, employing actionable data to send more personalized advertisement, invitations, and calls to action to their shoppers on the go. Until recently a midsize retailer would need to pony up more than $250K to build an app that would allow them to experiment with push notifications which for many was frankly a non-starter.

These global brands and retailers have proven that engaging their shoppers in an effective and succinct way is critical to long-term success. Using push notifications, online retailers can instantly fill their most loyal customers in on newly restocked inventory or promotions that they’re running for a limited time. In addition, retailers may segment users by region and then notify local shoppers about pop-up shops that they’re activating. The possibilities become endless when you pair the power of push notifications with a sound communications strategy.

Sandbox Commerce is tailor-made for mid-size retailers and digital marketing teams who have limited time and even smaller budgets to leverage actionable data from multiple touch-points to increase engagement with their most loyal shoppers. We recently worked with over 3 dozen brands and retailers to launch our one of a kind Engagement Dashboard – A tool that’s laser-like focused on helping founders and marketing teams increase revenue using actionable data that larger brands and retailers have been leveraging for years! We’re currently offering free trials for a limited time. Reach out to me if you’d like an invitation.