The Fundamentals Every Retail Mobile App Needs

AIM Consulting

Mobile App Development 101 Fundamentals
01/18/2016 | Digital Experience and Mobile | Thought Leadership

The retail industry has started to sit up and take notice of retail mobile app usage. In June of 2015, Marketing Land reported that 30 percent of US e-commerce transactions among online retailers and travel firms are now driven by mobile. Furthermore, retailers that made app experiences a priority saw 50 percent of their mobile transactions take place via apps. This trend shows no indication of slowing down.

However, not every retailer to build a mobile app has yielded the expected returns. Too often, the reason is that some retailers are overlooking the most basic elements that make a mobile app worth having—ease of use, convenience, and timeliness. The result is that they fail to deliver the foundational value that customers expect.

This is critical because the number one problem with mobile apps is retention. According to Localytics.com1 in 5 mobile apps are used only once and never opened again. Analytics for mobile app usage often look better than this because they take into account popular social media and gaming apps, which pull up the numbers, but for the majority of apps out there, people are downloading them to try them out and either forgetting about them or throwing them away. Apptentive, a company that provides services focused on user retention and analytics, disclosed in an interview that 90% of people who download an app are gone within six months—gone, as in users deleted the app from their phone.

The reality is that people do not have the same patience with mobile that they do with traditional desktop applications—if your app doesn’t do what your customers want right out of the gate, they are not going to wait for feature upgrades, fixes, and future versions. Your customers are downloading your app with the expectation that it will make some aspect of their relationship with you immediately easier, more convenient, or more personalized. It has to solve a problem. If you don’t satisfy users from their very first use, you have lost them.

Many retailers with floundering apps are overlooking the basics and trying instead to make their apps cool and unique so they stand out in a crowded marketplace—but at the cost of function. This approach was acceptable when mobile apps were shiny new toys, but we are past that stage now. Customers have expectations and their loyalty is not earned by whiz-bang features or apps that are simply “cool”. The failure of many retail mobile apps to deliver expected value provides clear evidence of this. There is simply no “wow” factor if your app can’t do what your customers downloaded it for.

To retain users, every retail mobile app needs a basic feature set that satisfies fundamental customer needs. You must put that fundamental functionality first and foremost and keep it there even as you enhance the experience over time. The secret to retail app success is incredibly simpleMeet customer demands first, and then delight them, not the other way around.

Although all apps are custom depending on the products your business provides, here are some of the basic elements that most retail apps need to be successful in the marketplace:

retail mobile app must-haves infographic

Depending on your business, there are other features you may want at the top of your list, such as an “in-store mode” with inventory check and product locator, the ability to call a customer service rep to your location in-store, a “reorder” shopping experience for regularly bought items, or a way for customers to provide feedback and insights about your products and services through the app. Once you’ve got the essentials working, the possibilities are limitless.

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