You don’t need us to tell you that mobile commerce is killing it. More than half of US shoppers have made a purchase using a mobile device, yet at the same time, only 12% of consumers find mobile shopping convenient.
Unfortunately, many ecommerce websites and online stores simply aren’t easy to navigate via phone. Because of that, many marketers assume you need to build an app in order to succeed in mobile commerce. That’s true in some cases, but not all.
It’s often expensive and incredibly time-consuming to build a mobile application. At the same time, you need a big enough customer base who will actually download and use your mobile app. Releasing an app that generates five downloads is a waste of time and money.
But while mobile apps aren’t right for every ecommerce business, they can help drive revenue and loyalty if done well. If you can build something that offers unique value and stands out in the market, your buyers will love it.
In fact, almost three-quarters of consumers think that mobile apps make online shopping easier while mobile ecommerce apps have a three times higher conversion rate than mobile websites.
If you think a mobile app is a smart investment for your business, what should it look like? We’ve put together a list of brands that are using mobile apps in creative ways to nurture customers, gain brand fans, and ultimately convert.
1. Asos: Personalization and recommendations
Asos is all about low-cost clothes that look like they came straight off the catwalk. That’s why it makes sense the brand created the Style Match tool for its mobile shopping app. With this tool, you can upload a photo (screenshot from Instagram, sneaky pic from that fashion magazine you were browsing at the airport, etc.) and the app will provide the best matches from its database of products.
Asos also recognizes the power of personalizing the mobile shopping experience to gain loyal customers. Their in-app Fit Assistant recommends sizes for products you are browsing based on your past purchases, shoppers similar to you, or details that you choose to share with Asos, such as height and weight.
To cross-sell products on mobile, Asos also introduced a “You Might Like” feature, which provides personalized recommendations based on past shopping behavior, encouraging users to add more items to their shopping cart.
2. Boxed: Chatbots, augmented reality, and replenishment reminders
Online bulk buying wholesale retailer Boxed uses chatbots, augmented reality (AR), and machine learning to provide superior customer support and drive loyalty. The app’s AR View lets customers see in real-time how the products they are bulk buying will fit in their homes. Bulky – Boxed’s Facebook Messenger bot – not only provides an alternative way to communicate with customers about orders via social media, but also enables them to discover new products, and gives Boxed an opportunity to upsell items.
And the app’s Smart StockUp feature also helps drive loyalty and repeat purchases through replenishment campaigns by alerting customers when frequently purchased items are about to run out, and allowing them to easily reorder them.
3. H&M: Omnichannel and push notifications
It also recognizes the importance of making its mobile app a key part of its omnichannel strategy in order to create a cohesive user experience. Customers can find out if an item they like in the app is available in a nearby store, along with all available sizes and colors. This also works if you’re in-store, as you can use the app to scan a product barcode and find out all nearby stores that stock the item you want.
4. Urban Outfitters: Contextual recommendations
Urban Outfitters’ mobile app walks the line between providing super useful recommendations and being slightly creepy. It uses location and activity data to send contextual messages to customers.
For example, if a customer has visited a nightclub, it sends them promotions for party dresses and clutch bags. Although the initiative may be on the edge data privacy-wise, the personalization also clearly works — it has led to a 75% increase in conversions and a 146% increase in average revenue per recipient.U
5. Wayfair: Nurturing customers from leads to conversions
Furniture retailer Wayfair’s mobile app is aimed at consumers all along the buying journey. The app’s Ideas Board is a Pinterest-like tool that allows customers to create boards of their favorite products and decor designs, organizing them by criteria such as style, color, room or type of product. They can then share these with friends and family to get their opinions.
Wayfair doesn’t try any hard-selling tactics through this feature, however, preferring to let its customers browse and discover until they are ready to buy. To complement this feature, Wayfair also uses AR to let customers can see these products in 3D in their home before they buy.
6. Best Buy: Visual search and omnichannel
Best Buy uses visual search to ensure its mobile app fits in its omnichannel strategy. Customers can use the mobile app to hover over any image in their product catalog they get through the mail and complete the purchase instantly on their phone.
As part of this strategy, Best Buy also uses its mobile traffic to drive customers in-store. It leverages geo-fencing to allow its customers to earn points in its loyalty program by checking-in whenever they visit a store.
These six brands are just some examples of the creative features and functionality that some of the best ecommerce mobile apps can offer. But remember, there’s no point spending loads of money implementing the latest tech and developing cool features that your customers never use.
Keep an eye on the metrics to find out what is converting, and what is falling flat and be willing to adjust accordingly. Think about how Instagram started life as Burbn, a location check-in app, but pivoted to photo sharing according to customer demand.
That’s why you need to be sure you want to make the investment before you start. Mobile apps can be a fantastic way to boost revenue, but not for everyone.