There has been much talk of e-commerce in recent years. Meanwhile, it is m-commerce that is gaining ground, a trend which is connected with an increase in the popularity of shopping via mobile devices. Hence, business owners are faced with no easy dilemma: to invest in a native application devoted to product sales or to simply optimise their e-store for mobiles.
To answer, let us first have a look at research on newest market trends, advantages of supporting your own app and the procurement process as such.
Imagine, a customer goes into your store in search of a few items missing from their wardrobe. They find a t-shirt and trousers they like, unfortunately, the desired size is out of stock. They decide to check if they can order the items online. So, they take out their smartphone and search for the store’s name. They find no application, but they do stumble upon a neatly designed web page. They are a few clicks and a personal data questionnaire away from purchasing the item.
Each customer knows this procedure in and out. They have filled in such forms many a time – and would rather not do it again. They have installed apps for other shops, apps which store their data and allow instant purchases.
“Let’s see if Zalando has it”, runs through your customers’ mind and their instincts are right. They fire a simple, fast application and find what they were looking for. They do buy the desired items, just not from the store they had entered, but from the one that saved them the time and effort offering the simplest way to satisfy their shopping needs.
Many companies notice an increasing need to develop a mobile app of their own, but lack data on market research to be absolutely certain. Moreover, intensive work on current activities often takes priority over the next five year plan for the company. The sheer cost of developing an app seems to discourage rather then entice discussion with companies wondering when and if they will see a return on this investment.
A decision on whether or not to implement a mobile app should be an informed decision allowing for a few factors:
Fewer and fewer online transactions are conducted using personal computers. According to a report by a consultancy Criteo, on the German market, which is thought akin to the Polish market, the year-on-year drop in online sales via desktops reached 13% in the first quarter of 2018, whereas the number of purchases using smartphones increased by 36% for the respective period. Even though buying via mobile websites is still popular, globally, the market share for shopping online with the use of applications increases; there was a 22% rise in shopping using apps recorded between 2017 and 2018.
Criteo reports that mobile sales account for 50% of all online transactions across most of the world, with applications being the dominant sales channel. This m-commerce trend is particularly noticeable in North America and Asia, where an overwhelming majority of customers prefer to shop by means of an application. Europe closes in on the trend, although mobile websites remain just as popular as apps here. Judging by the trend, it is only to be expected that in time native applications will outweigh mobile websites in Europe, too.
According to Statista, the value of mobile app generated income amounted to $88.3 billion in 2016. The amount is predicted to grow up to $188.9 billion in 2020.
Furthermore, people simply use mobile devices more and more. Noticeably, life seems to have gone mobile, and as a result our shopping habits have changed. Facebook, Instagram and other social media apps naturally occupy the lion’s share of the time people spend engaged with apps, however, solutions like deep linking help to instantly redirect customers from social media to a selected screen in an online retail application, which is a practice commonly employed by market leaders.
For smartphone savvy customers the matter is simple: apps represent a quick and convenient solution as they allow access to a store’s offer directly from a phone’s home screen; also, they store transaction details and autocomplete forms; next, they collect information on shopping preferences such as size or style; last, they customise offers effectively.
Some companies launch applications unaccompanied by marketing, which results in little or no success on the market. A viable app promotional strategy, which helps achieve profits and gain competitive advantages, is essential.
Last, let us deal with the issue that for many companies proves hard to comprehend, namely the cost of developing such an app. On average development costs alone vary between 100,000 PLN and 200,000 PLN, but you do need to budget for operating costs and marketing additionally. Is that a lot? If you judge in terms of money spent – yes, it seems a lot. However, there are factors at play here that better classify an app as an investment, rather than a spend, due to a return rate driven by higher conversion, lower abandonment rate, reduced marketing costs and greater customer reachability.
When planning to implement an application, prior to brainstorming ideas on how to set the company apart and amaze customers, a company should indicate its goals and measurable effects that an application is to help achieve, and only then define key metrics and methods of measurement. A mobile application is similar to a company start-up. It requires nurturing and continuous attention within the loop of build-measure-learn.
If you plan on verifying market information on mobile applications, do bear negative opinions in mind and investigate as to the causes of such feedback. Many companies have committed a lot of mistakes in the development and then management of their applications, which lead business owners to negatively evaluate apps as a sales channel. However, more and more companies admit their own responsibility for the past failures and make new, more conscious and effective attempts to grow their businesses via mobile channels.
When faced with global changes in customer habits we may no longer perceive applications solely as an attractive business accessory or a neat image booster. People seek apps, plain and simple. Customers expect companies to reach out to them by every means possible. In all honesty, the times when a company mobile app wowed customers and turned companies into market pioneers are long gone. Currently, a native shopping application is a standard solution, and many people would rather search Google Play or the App Store for a dedicated app then open browser and type in your company name onto the address bar. They may not find your company via a browser, what they will find are your competitors – one step closer to your customer.