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Apps driving mobile for many retailers as they look to put them at heart of omni-channel ‘within two years’

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Almost half of retailers say that between 21 and 50% of their web sales come directly from purchases made on an app, although 23% of IRUK Top 500 retailers currently have a transactional app and 4% have no plans to use apps as part of a multichannel strategy.

So finds a study of more than 100 leading UK heads of e-commerce, heads of mobile and heads of digital within the retail space conducted by Urban Airship.

It is unsurprising that all companies have moved beyond a desktop-only e-commerce approach with a dedicated mobile app or mobile-friendly site. However, the difference between those with a transactional app verses a broader experience-based app is vast: 61% of retailers have a transactional dedicated mobile app, compared to only 8% that have an experience-focussed app. This will be a key growth area for retailers seeking to innovate beyond competitors.

Retail specialist, Tim Paterson from Urban Airship explains: “Mobile is more personal and utility-focused than any other screen, so being able to assist customers beyond the transaction encourages more frequent interactions, greater customer understanding and stronger brand affinity.”

On the budget front, 80% of respondents will be allocating at least 21% of their digital budget to m-commerce over the next 12 months. However, ‘technological advancements’ and ‘understanding the impact of customer behaviour’ are the top two challenges identified that they are currently facing in advancing mobile development.

Interestingly, the report finds that 94% of retailers believe that they will have a fully integrated omni-channel presence, that incorporates their app, in place within two years.

Nigel Arthur, managing director, Urban Airship EMEA explains: “Mobile is clearly critical for retailers. Almost all surveyed are planning large, simultaneous investments in areas from marketing and platform tools, to security and payments. Retailers are learning the new discipline of mobile marketing and they’re taking advantage of mobile’s unique opportunities to drive better value for the customer.”

Arthur continues: “It’s not easy though. Creating a high-quality app and integrating it with the rest of your business, requires expertise in marketing, user-experience, engineering, analytics, and many other areas. There’s been a lot of progress made, but there’s a lot of work left to do. Many retailers even have separate ‘mobile’ divisions, leading to a disjointed experience for consumers. Over time, these divisions are destined to be integrated much more closely with the rest of the business. Ultimately, mobile is transforming consumer behaviour – it’s a new world of making consumers love your brand on mobile.”

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