Beyond the buy: Does your retail mobile app deliver true customer value?

By Chris Kozup, Chief Marketing Officer
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Mobile bridges the digital and in-store experience, and gives retailers an opportunity to create a personalized experience that can drive customer loyalty and retention.

The mobile opportunity is not lost on retailers and even large venues like stadiums, but in reality, many struggle to get customers to download and use their apps. Only 30 percent of consumers use retailers' mobile apps to purchase products, according to Forrester Consulting and RetailMeNot. 60% percent of consumers have two or fewer retailer apps on their phones and 21 percent have none.

What's in it for them?

As a retailer, it's easy to build a business case as to why a mobile app helps you increase your sales, engage with customers outside the store, and gain insight into customer behavior.

But to keep your mobile app from being abandoned after a couple of uses, retailers need to deliver clear value to customers. Without a compelling value proposition, shoppers will be reluctant to use your mobile app, agree to receive push notifications or share valuable information like their location.

Here are some ways to deliver true customer value that I've seen working with retailers around the world.

  • It's easy to shop. First and foremost, a retailer's app should make it easy to buy online or in the store. Many shoppers use their mobile phones to find a coupon and redeem it in the store. Retailers can make personalized offers based on a shopper's location, time of day or past purchases. They can promote items that are popular with likeminded customers. For instance, Starbucks fans can skip the line by ordering and paying for their favorite drinks from the mobile app and then pick up their piping hot order from the barista.
  • It's convenient. People are busier than ever and they expect a personalized experience. Mobile apps are a great way to enhance the customer experience with convenience services, directions and a way to share the fun with others. Think about how your mobile app can make your customers' lives easier when interacting with your brand. Levi's Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers, is in its second year of using a mobile app for visitors. The experience begins with e-tickets, so fans don't need to print paper tickets. Once inside the stadium, they get turn-by-turn directions to their seats. They can order and pay for food for delivery at their seats, send food to their friends' seats or pick up the order at an express line at the concession stand. Fans can relive the moment—or catch what they missed—with instant replays in the stadium app.
  • It's social. Mobile apps are a great way to generate buzz. For instance, many shoppers already take selfies when trying on new outfits in the dressing room, share them on social media, and decide to buy the outfit if it gets enough likes. Retailers and malls have an opportunity to turn that into a branded experience with filters for their mobile apps.
  • It creates community. Mobile apps are an opportunity to engage with customers beyond the store or showroom floor. For example, an auctioneer of antique and luxury cars is creating a community of car enthusiasts through its mobile app, as well as letting people buy and sell cars. In Orlando, the Amway Center has rolled out a mobile app for ticketing, food service, retail, parking, seat upgrades, and video content to better engage Magic fans. The app eliminates the need to download multiple apps for arena services. The platform also includes data analytics, so the Magic can customize the fan experience.

Everyone wins

When customers regularly use your app, everyone wins. As a retailer, you have a huge opportunity to better understand your customers through the use of data analytics. You can aggregate data gleaned from shoppers using your mobile app to understand how people move through the store and so you can enhance merchandizing and optimize the store layout.

You can also leverage data analytics to build shopper personas. A mall owner, for example, can build a community through newsletters, the website and mobile apps, and understand the different types of people who come to the mall so they can better tailor experiences to them.