Many of us use our mobile devices throughout the day to complete tasks, socialise, research, communicate, shop, entertain, and so much more. In 2021, there were 33.7 million mobile internet users in Canada, and this number is projected to reach well over 38 million by 2026. Meanwhile, 56% of Canadians used a smartphone to shop online in 2021. In other words, many of us turn to our mobile devices as a convenient way to meet our needs, and it has resulted in a mobile revolution that has picked up speed in the last couple of years.
While surfing the web is a big component of our mobile screen time, we can’t forget about one of the biggest aspects of mobile devices – mobile apps. Research conducted in 2021 found that Canadians spend an average of 4.4 hours a day on mobile apps, which is up from 3.9 hours in 2020. Meanwhile, eMarketer found that 88% of that time spent using mobile internet will be spent in mobile apps rather than a browser. While this amount of time comprises several types of apps, such as social media or gaming, it still reflects the fact that users are engaging in the process of picking up their phone, searching for the app(s), and using it.
From a retail perspective, mobile apps can offer audiences convenient ways to connect with brands and engage in ways that a physical store or website cannot offer. Below we have outlined several benefits that you will find by creating a mobile app for your retail business. However, with any business decision, it is essential to identify what it is you want your mobile app to offer. A mobile app needs to add value to the customer and provide something your mobile website cannot. Otherwise, it will not benefit you or the customer.
Push notifications can increase engagement
Many retail mobile apps offer consumers the option to opt-in for push notifications, and this can provide you with a direct channel to connect and inform using key pieces of marketing communication, such as upcoming and ongoing sales, personalised discounts, new arrivals, in-store exclusives, etc. Push notifications can also be automatically sent to a user if they show interest in a certain product, which can push them along in their path to purchasing it.
It is important to keep in mind that 71% of app users churn within the initial 90 days of downloading an app, while 21% of users only use an app once. This why contacting them outside the app, such as through push notifications, can be an effective way to bring users back in and engage with the app. Push notifications can even be automatically scheduled to users who have not used the app for a certain amount of days, which can act as small reminders, and increase the opportunity for them to engage with products and make a purchase.
Mobile apps already offer information and products at a customer’s fingertips. However, push notifications are an added benefit of having a mobile app because you have the opportunity to connect and interact with customers in more direct ways. For example, push notifications can appear on a user’s phone lock screen or while they scroll through another app, which is much more accessible and convenient than if the same communication were sent through an email. This then increases the likelihood of them engaging with your business.
Increase brand awareness
When a user downloads your mobile app, they are doing so at their own will, which means they are aware that your app exists on their phone, even when they are not using it. Paired with the fact that every time they unlock their phone they will see your logo, it creates a perfect combination for increased brand awareness.
Depending on your industry, having a mobile app can also help your business stand out from the competition. For example, if your mobile app is uniquely designed or includes exclusive offers that customers can’t get elsewhere, it can bring more attention and interest to your brand.
One of the great things about a mobile app is that users can access it 24/7, and the more they use it, the higher brand awareness grows. This constant convenience and accessibility to your business can be extremely appealing to customers, as it puts the power in their hands when they want to engage.
Loyalty programs can enhance customer retention
It is five times more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing ones, which is why loyalty programs are a great way to focus your attention on the customers that are already familiar with your business. Of course, trying to reach new customers is important, but finding ways to maintain a loyal customer base is essential, especially since 57% of consumers will spend more time on brands they are loyal to.
Implementing a loyalty program directly into a mobile app provides a more convenient way for users to keep track of their points and/or offers, especially since the app keeps the user logged in, which reduces the time and effort it takes to sign in to their account on another device. As well, a mobile app takes loyalty cards out of the picture, which can be bulky in a wallet or can be easily lost. Also, customers have their mobile devices on them a majority of the time, which makes using the app a much easier option.
One of the most famous examples of a mobile app that uses a loyalty program is Starbucks. The more a registered Starbucks member uses the app to make purchases, the greater amount of “stars” they will receive, which translates into benefits like discounts, free items, etc. This helps create loyalty, personalisation, and an increase in customer lifetime value – all important aspects to a successful loyalty program.
For instance, personalisation is a major aspect of loyalty programs that mobile apps can help facilitate. By analysing data from purchasing history and shopping habits, retailers can create more personalised offers for customers through the loyalty program, which creates a 6.4x lift in loyalty member satisfaction.
Overall, loyalty programs through a mobile app can improve customer loyalty and can increase the likelihood of repeat purchases, such as by offering instant rewards that customers can use in future purchases. Mobile apps can also provide exclusive offers and specialised rewards, which creates more of an incentive for users to become loyal customers.
Boost sales with faster purchases
Research conducted on retail mobile apps has found that 57.5% of consumers surveyed stated that mobile apps offer more convenience than other shopping channels. Along with convenience, better prices and an easy user interface ranked at the top of what consumers enjoy about using mobile apps for their shopping needs.
Mobile apps make it easy for customers to make purchases wherever they are, whenever they want. There are no hours of operation or the need to consistently sign in to an account to use a mobile app, as mobile apps automatically save user information upon downloading. This immediately creates a faster checkout process, especially if a customer’s payment option and personal shipping details save to the app. A faster transaction process creates a positive customer experience. This is essential, especially when you want to avoid in-cart abandonment.
When it comes to paying, mobile apps can offer a variety of options. Beyond typical credit and debit card options, smartphones provide customers with the option to use services like Apple Pay or Google Wallet to make in-app purchases. Offering a wide array of payment options ensures that they can pay in a way that is not inconvenient to them, thus, speeding up the time it takes to make a purchase.