Creating a Mobile App that Gives Value to Your Customers

You are constantly told that your business needs a mobile app to gain and keep customers and stay competitive, but how do you actually achieve this?

How can you develop an application that will prove to be a profitable tool for your business?

Let’s take a look at what you should focus on when creating user experience for ensuring high engagement and returns on investment.

App Doesn’t Equal Website
One of the biggest mistakes which businesses make is to think about a mobile app as an alternative to or a continuation of their website. What is the point of having both if they offer pretty much the same features, experience and value in general? Before you make any plans for app development, you should first get a clear idea of how this new tool is different from your website.

The typical business website is primarily about presenting the company and its products and communicating with customers. It is easy for anyone to visit it and use it regardless of their relationship with your company. A mobile app, on the other hand, is more than just a source of information. In order to deserve a permanent place on the smartphones and tablets of users, it has to offer more. The reality is that people perceive applications as personalised tools that help them in their daily lives. For this, you need to give them value by providing the following:

  • Solving a problem – Think about the goals which your customers want to achieve with buying your products and help them get even more in an even faster way. If you sell sports equipment, for instance, your app could offer personalised training plans with gym session reminders, calorie calculator and more. This is just a simple example, but mobile has lots of potential for adding value to practically all kinds of products.
  • Enhancing the customer’s experience with the brand – This is where you can win big time and really stand out among competitors. You can make it easier for customers to find you and to reach you with features like a map and a store locator. You can offer faster servicing to mobile app users both online and at your store. It is also possible to provide unique services like the creation of personalised wish lists for special occasions.
  • Unique offerings – This is all about giving your customers an incentive to download your mobile app. You can reward them for this by giving them special offers first plus some exclusive bargains too. You can also run entire loyalty programs solely via your app.

Taking Advantage of Mobile Technology
The unique features which smartphones and tablets offer aren’t simply “cool”, but can be invaluable for businesses, especially when it comes to marketing and sales. Localisation, for example, allows you to target your mobile app users given where they are, the time of day and their proximity to your physical location. Another one of the coolest trends is digitalising your loyalty cards and gift cards and integrating them with apps enabling payment via NFC. The sky’s the limit, literally.

What kind of mobile app do you need for your business? Contact me to receive professional consultation.

Mobile Shopping Issues Your Customers Face

Retailers are struggling to offer mobile experiences that customers expect them to offer. MarketingCharts in February, 2016 conducted a survey with a base of 100,000 shoppers. People still face obstacles when it comes to online shopping. Problems found included:
• 33% of the respondents said that there are stability issues with mobile sites such as having to enlarge the order to click the item they want.
• 25% said that pages load slow and that there were other performance issues.
• 21% said that they need to go to the full site to access what they are seeking.
Small pictures, text, security problems, and lack of information all boil down to the user experience.
In the retail world, the user experience is the most important part of attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. When you have usability issues this impacts success as customers want to have a seamless experience when using an app on a mobile device.

Looking at the User Experience Issues Through Apps
Mobile website can offer great user experience and many do, when they have the right execution. Native mobile app experiences are the shifting tide now. Retail Me Not conducted a survey which shows that many shoppers have a preference to mobile apps since they offer a better experience than mobile sites. When compared to mobile sites, retail apps offer:
• 63% more convenience
• 57% faster
• 40% better experience because they store user settings
• 31% more rewards and additional benefits

The millennial market is a lucrative one and they have more preference towards mobile apps. They want interactive and interesting experience with apps. Forbes conducted a survey indicating that 54% of millennials enjoy retail apps since they have abetter experience than retail mobile sites. 27% of millennials take advantage of rewards, discounts, and exclusive offers that apps provide them.

More Return on Investment When You Offer a Better Experience
Apps that penetrate the market are lucrative for retailers. The use of apps now counts for about half of all mobile sales for those retailers which have a focus on the user experience. App Annie says that apps also drive in-store visits and users buy more items when compared to the web. Mobile apps are therefore, a critical platform that retailers need to take advantage of for stronger sales, loyal customers, and a better experience.

How to Get the Experience You Want
Apps need to focus on the customer. Friction points need to be eliminated and there should be value for a better shopping experience. For version 1 of your app you should consider the following:
• Have a personalized experience
• Offer relevant product suggestions with a recommendation engine
• Reward customers with the integration of loyalty programs so you get more purchases
• Use promotions, special offers, and coupons to help users save money
• Make sure you have streamlined payments so friction points are eliminated in the payment process
• Add functionality and features so the in-store experience is improved

Once you have collected some data from shoppers that are active in your app, you can refine and improve the later versions of that app based upon behavior and user preferences. If you set KPIs for the app you can analyse, collect, and act upon that data during the revision of the app in later versions.

Consumers want more from their shopping experiences. Apps are becoming a large part of retail strategies. A company has to keep their end user in mind and have apps which reduce friction, add value, and engage customers so they stay loyal to the brand.

Reasons Why User Personas are Important for Your App

Understanding User Personas
After research is conducted on specific users, a persona or profile is created. This imitates a real customer and uses data from the person’s attitudes, user behaviors, pain points, needs and wants in regards to a specific product. When a user persona is created in an app, its’s designed to work with a specific group of people not a generic group.

A persona will illustrate the behaviors and goals of users. Market segments will examine demographic patterns and look at locations, age, salary, sex, and other factors. During the development of an app, personas can provide added benefits.

Promoting User Focused Outcomes
An app at times, can change into the desires sof the developer and not focus on the end user. To eliminate this problem, the development process has to center on a goal which has the end-user in mind. The developers must work from the perspective of the end user.

The app has to resonate with the end user so personas are used through the entire development process. If the user persona is reinforced during the development process, the team stays focused on their main goal of creating an app for the user. If this is not done, then the end product may not be what the end user is going to want.

Consensus During Development is Established
When you have raw data, it’s often hard to interpret this. When you have a persona, this communicates trends and encapsulates the research so it can be visualized and understood. When you have a development team you often have personnel with varying degrees of skill which can cause opinions in what should be done. When you work with a user persona, this makes it easier for the team to avoid miscommunication and confusion when engaged in the development process. The concepts and ideas and communicated with a persona so the entire team is on the same wavelength and that they understand what their target audience actually is.

Decisions are Validated
Once you have an app idea you may not have something that the end user actually needs or even wants. You need to figure out who the app will target, but you also need to know what the end user you’re trying to reach actually needs. You need validation so the end product delivers what the end user needs or you’re wasting a lot of valuable time. When a decision is made during the development process this has to focus on the needs of the end-user. If the development process starts to stray away from focusing on the end user, the app stands a good chance of failing.

During the development process, user personas are important for everyone as they increase efficiency and quality of the work. Product quality is increased when using a persona because it addresses the pain points of the end user and fixes problems with their current user experience. When you understand and can meet the needs of specific groups of users, the app stands a greater chance of being a success. You’ll get a higher download rate and engagement with the user will be maintained.

How Efficiency In-Store is Enhanced by Mobile Apps

The main focus on mobile apps is usually the generation of money outside the physical locations of stores. The ability of mobile apps to enhance brick and mortar businesses, is often overlooked in both revenues and the operations. Here are some ways that mobile apps are effective in-store.

The Ability to Check inventory in Real-Time
If an app has inventory search functions, this can help employees create more efficiency in their store as well as help customers. A customer for example, can check the availability of products in real-time and pull up the closest location where they can get the product. They can even arrange to pickup the product in the store.

Employees can use this function to improve the overall customer experience. They can use real-time inventory data so floor employees can check to see if products are in stock for customers. This can be done quickly and a product can be ordered for the customer if it’s out of stock.

A Self-Service Advisor
Many customers prefer the self-service model. They can use their device as a customer representative. While inventory check ups can be done by a store employee, the customer can use an app to find products in the store, get product promotions, and deals as well as more information.

Any store can use an app to provide in-store service by allowing customers to search for product information, make fast purchases, and locate items within stores directly from an app on their mobile device.

Improve Customer Service
Mobile apps allow employees to serve customers better, especially ones that ant to interact with a representative. One useful feature is a customer alert system. This feature will allow for both an employee-facing side and a customer side which will improve the shopping experience and th efficiency of employees.
Customers don’t have to wait for a representative, they can ask for assistance in a store kiosk or via their app. An employee gets a notification on their device when a customer is located in the store so assistance can be offered quickly.

Wishlist Building and Barcode Scanning
Retail Touchpoints said in a webinar that learning about products in store, is a goal for shoppers. By offering barcodes on a mobile app, you help customers find additional information about products. This also allows customers to add products to a wishlist.

Customer service can be enhanced with barcodes and wishlists and there’s no need for additional staff. It makes it easier to provide service for customers, especially in large stores. The scanning feature allows customers to find product information and then add items to a wishlist before they checkout without the need for assistance by a store associate.

M-commerce has been a focus for retail mobile apps, but the opportunity to impact the in-store operations and customer experience in-store a largely untapped market. Mobile apps can help to empower employees and provide a better experience for shoppers. This creates more revenue opportunities for stores and lowers costs for retailers.

Why Retail Apps Add Value For Your Customers

Each year, retail apps continue to grow and change your shopping experience. For many customers worldwide, these apps are a critical part of the overall shopping experience. Many retailers are creating apps which improve the shopping experience for the customer and appeal to their needs. For example, they are creating rewards points, adding product browsing, transaction ability, and providing suggestions for the buyer. Since customers have new shopping habits because of mobile devices, these retail apps enhance their shopping experience.

It’s the shopping experience which is driving the use of these apps. One study showed that 88% of people are using retail apps to help them when shopping. Shoppers are looking for easy ways to make a purchase and retail apps are helping them make important purchasing decisions. The apps are easy to use, personalized, and improve brand loyalty towards the company.

Retail Apps Are Easy to Use
Most shoppers have access to mobile shopping. In today’s world we have access to shopping at the tips of our fingers. We can browse, recommend products or services to others or make a purchase whenever we want. Most retail apps have payment methods so you can pay right within the app itself. Retail apps eliminate a lot of the headaches that are associated with regular shopping.

Retail Apps Offer Personalization
Retail apps are also personalized towards each shopper that uses the app so they have a customized shopping experience. Some companies integrate loyalty programs as well as special discounts into their apps. Examples of this include Starbucks, Shoppers Drugmart, and many others. personalization options include loyalty programs, push notifications, and the integration of coupon offers which target the needs of the user.

One study showed that 51% of those that use mobile apps, use them in the actual store to help them make purchasing decisions. Buyers have access to additional information when they use mobile apps which helps them when buying. The customer can check ratings, save money with discounts, and compare products or services to find the best one for their needs. the customer is now more engaged in the shopping experience than ever before thanks to advancements in digital shopping.

Better Retailer-Shopper Experience
Shoppers are looking for tools that provide them with more engagement and convenience when they shop. A shopper is more likely to return if they have a positive shopping experience in a store. Retailers now acknowledge what shoppers are looking for and are expanding into the digital world to meet the needs of the shopper through their mobile apps. With mobile apps, the retailer can connect with shoppers so the buyer has more options and convenience when they shop at a store. Retail apps help to build long-term customer retailer relations and brand loyalty.

Many shoppers are now focusing their shopping experience on companies that use mobile apps and moving away from those that do not. Mobile apps that are easy to use for customers and offer convenience, are the ones that add value during the shopping experience for buyers.