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Now is the time to get app-centric

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Apps are, against the odds, becoming the shopping channel du jour for many consumers. As we reported last week, almost half of retailers say that between 21 and 50% of their web sales come directly from purchases made on an app. Now, further research across all channels from poq shows that app users are the most enthusiastic online shoppers, with the average person shopping from an app generating 2.6 times more revenue for a retailer than someone shopping from a mobile site, and 1.5 times more than someone using a desktop device. Customers using apps also interacted with retailers 2.8 times more often than customers using the mobile website.

Yet, according to our own IRUK Top500 research, just 23% of Top 500 retailers in the UK have a transactional app – with only a fifth having an app at all – despite mobile increasingly accounting for more than half of retailer e-commerce traffic.

Why is there such a disconnect? One of the main reasons is that apps are seen as an expensive investment to create and that so much rides on having a super cool app that many retailers simply tread water and don’t develop one.

There is another issue with apps, reveals Igor Faletski, CEO of Mobify, in that it’s not just the expensive of developing them that puts retailers off, it’s the ongoing need to keep them going. The need to have the app constantly running perfectly and totally up to date is a much bigger hurdle and is seen as being a bridge too far for many retailers.

The stakes, however, are high. Mobile is increasingly sitting at the centre of the whole retail experience across all channels and apps are playing a significant role therein. According to Mobify, it is now imperative that retailers embrace not just mobile, but a total omni-channel strategy that links web, mobile, apps, store and everything else. It is increasingly not about devices, says Faletski, but about context.

And he’s spot on. Take the example of loyalty schemes. Consumers love loyalty schemes, want them on their phones and increasingly want to see them seamlessly built into apps so that they are less complicated and easier to use and redeem and are part of the digital experience, not an add on.

Juniper predicts that 3 billion mobile only loyalty cards will be in use by 2020, and that this will in turn drive even greater use of mobile within the shopping journey.

This is one example of how the mobile ecosystem in retail is increasingly becoming a central component of the retail process rather than an add on. The push for more mobile loyalty schemes – and soon location and personalised marketing – is going to see the role of the app grow still further. Ignoring apps is no longer and option – and apps are no longer a ‘nice to have’ add-on to your m-retail strategy; like m-web, online and even in store, apps are essential.

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