Platforms & Apps

4 Reasons Every Retailer Should Have a Mobile App

Mobile applications resonate with shoppers, are easy to implement, come with a variety of abilities and purposes, and are becoming the standard for online retailers. There are at least four reasons nearly every retailer should offer a mobile application.

Mobile commerce is among the fastest growing retail segments. By some estimates mobile commerce will rise from about $2 billion in sales in 2013 to $62 billion in the next five years. Mobile applications will be part of the amazing growth.

1. Shoppers Love Mobile Retail Apps

Mobile smartphone users like — love — retail apps. According to data from application analytics firm Flurry, as reported in Tech Crunch, Android and iOS users spent 525 percent more time on retail mobile apps in December 2012 as those users had in December 2011.

For a comparison, consider that overall app usage grew about 132 percent in that same period, meaning that retail shopping apps grew at about four times the average. Mobile apps from retailers also had nearly double the usage growth as price comparison applications or purchasing assistance applications, again according to Tech Crunch and Flurry.

Shoppers like apps from their favorite stores, so don’t disappointment.

2. Mobile Retail Apps Are Easy to Make

The Apache Cordova project and Adobe’s PhoneGap framework make it possible to create a mobile, retail app using HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript and then release that application as a platform-specific native application on Apple iOS, Android, Blackberry OS, WebOS, Windows Phone 7, Symbian, and Bada.

Essentially, this means that having an app for an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S4 is about has hard as building a website. Many retailers will still need to pay a developer to create the app. But again, relative to having to build a custom application for each possible mobile operating system, these tools make building mobile retail apps relatively easy.

Mobile apps don’t have to be harder or more difficult to make than a website. There is no real technical barrier.

3. No Shortage of App Ideas

A mobile retail application can be as simple as a product catalog and a shopping cart. Retail applications do not need to do anything other than display product or prices. Some business owners or marketers may feel like an app needs to be revolutionary or at least utilitarian. That is not the case. Showing products and prices may be enough.

On the other hand, there are also no limits to what a retail app can do. Here are a few ideas to serve as examples.

  • Apparel retailer. Monthly fashion magazine or catalog app.
  • Hardware retailer. App that takes a picture of a screw and provides its dimensions, and links to related products.
  • Garden supply retailer. iPad app that helps plan backyard gardens, and offers suggested products.
  • Sporting goods retailer. App that shows the text of sport’s official rulebook.

More general examples include a gift registry, loyalty programs, social shopping, or even customer account tool management.

4. Your Competition Has a Mobile App

Some 83 percent of the top retailers offer at least one mobile application, according to IT consulting firm Cognizant. In some ways, this means that retailers that don’t have mobile applications are already behind.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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