1. Shopper & Customer

Mobile Shopping Apps Are the Key to Winning Brand Loyalty

In case you haven’t noticed, the retail industry has been transformed by digital technology, and more and more consumers are turning to mobile shopping apps to purchase products. However, it turns out that only 33 percent of retailers currently offer this capability, according to a recent assessment of the solutions and services of 300 brands.

Last year, data.ai found that consumers spend more than four hours per day using mobile apps. Therefore, it isn’t hard to understand why people prefer to shop via smartphone. While there’s a clear disconnect between consumer shopping preferences and the experiences retailers provide, that’s not the only issue. For the brands that do offer an app, most are a carbon copy of the website in mobile form.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. When done right, mobile shopping apps can create a unique experience that drives customer loyalty. In fact, an app is the most powerful tool a retailer can use to foster and maintain a brand following among its most loyal customers.

Why? Mobile shopping apps are the best way to offer a tailored and convenient shopping experience. They also allow retailers to stay connected with their customers. Plus, mobile shopping apps can provide valuable data and insights into customers’ behaviors.

To be ignored at your peril, here are the five strategies any direct-to-consumer brand should keep in mind when rolling out an app to ensure it appeals to its most loyal customers (or, you know, just make it more than a watered-down version of their website). Following these guidelines will help retailers create the best possible mobile shopping experience that drives both loyalty and sales:

  1. Offer an engaging, seamless, and user-friendly app experience. A poorly designed or difficult-to-use app can quickly turn users off. Retailers should focus on creating a clean, intuitive and easy-to-navigate UX that provides an inspirational, seamless shopping experience. This can build loyalty by making shopping with the brand as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible. Look at the Nordstrom app’s success, which offers a user-friendly interface and interactive features.
  2. Personalize the shopping experience. Personalized recommendations and offers can go a long way in building loyalty among a brand’s most dedicated customers. Retailers should use the data and insights they gather through their app to provide a customized shopping experience that caters to each customer’s unique needs and preferences. Retail giants like Amazon.com and Target excel at this, offering personalized product recommendations and exclusive deals to app users.
  3. Incorporate rewards and incentives. Retailers can use their mobile shopping apps to offer loyalty programs, rewards and other incentives to encourage their most loyal customers to continue shopping with the brand. This could include special discounts, free shipping, or early access to new products. Brands like Sephora and Starbucks have mastered the art of using their apps to offer rewards and incentives, and they have the engagement numbers to prove it.
  4. Communicate with customers. Mobile shopping apps provide a convenient way for retailers to stay in touch with their most loyal customers. Retailers should use their app to send personalized notifications about sales, new products, and other promotions to keep customers engaged and interested in shopping with the brand. Companies like The Honest Company and Warby Parker excel at using their apps to communicate with customers through personalized notifications and exclusive content.
  5. Think omnichannel. A mobile shopping app cannot act independently from a retailer’s other channels. Consumers want to shop when, where and how they want, anytime, anywhere. To create mobile experiences that resonate with loyal customers, brands must invest in apps that bridge the gap between online and in-store systems. This will allow customers to have a seamless experience no matter where or how they choose to shop. Brands like Neiman Marcus and Walgreens have successfully created omnichannel experiences through their mobile apps.

All of this combined not only makes the shopping experience more enjoyable for the consumer but also keeps the brand top of mind and encourages customers to keep coming back. And at a time when customer acquisition costs are higher than ever, this has never been more important. That said, the decision to invest in a mobile app shouldn’t happen in a vacuum. Brands must consider how their app can coexist with current offerings and amplify them. An app that offers unique benefits, funnels customer activity toward sales, and connects to physical store locations sets retail brands apart from competitors that treat their apps as just a less convenient version of their website. By focusing on their most loyal customers and creating a mobile shopping app that provides a personalized, convenient and rewarding experience, retailers can win brand loyalty and drive sales.

Phil Granof is the chief marketing officer at NewStore, the only mobile POS with integrated cloud order management.

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