Because of the pandemic, many are lauding 2020 as mankind’s big step toward a more digital experience.
Indeed, US consumers spent a whopping $861.12 billion online last year, marking a 44% growth for eCommerce since 2019. In the retail industry alone, the share of eCommerce grew from 14% to 17% in just a year.
As a result, many are now wondering if eCommerce will replace brick-and-mortar establishments completely. After all, the accessibility it offers has allowed for flexibility that physical businesses simply don’t have.
Despite this, nearly 69% of American consumers say they’ll still shop in-store even after the pandemic.
The challenge for businesses now is not which eCommerce technologies to invest in, but how to use technology to create the integrated online and offline experience that many people seek.
In particular, mobile apps are increasingly becoming the go-to for online shoppers across the country, transforming the brick-and-mortar experience in different industries.
Here’s a closer look at the role of mobile apps in eCommerce today.
More informed customers – Retail
In a time when there is a platform to learn about products before they purchase them, customers have become more self-educated than ever.
As such, they’ll be more incentivized to avail of your products or services if you give them the information they need to do so. That’s where mobile apps come in.
The ASOS app, for instance, uses image recognition technology, allowing customers to take a photo of a clothing item they see on the street or in a magazine and find the closest matching item at the nearest ASOS store.
Meanwhile, cosmetics brand L’Oréal partnered with Facebook to create Makeup Genius, which lets users try on makeup products virtually before purchasing them in-store.
And since over 93% of customers rely on them to make purchasing decisions, in-app product or service reviews shouldn’t be neglected as well.
Positive reviews heavily impact trust in your brand, so act on complaints to improve your ratings.
The ratings of the app itself are also important, as they can impact how much your app is used in the first place.
A poorly designed app can negatively affect your online presence, so make sure yours works well.
In-app delivery services – Food Delivery
Both restaurants and retailers alike can benefit from seamless in-app delivery services. And with modern GPS technology, you can give customers real-time updates.
The Domino’s Pizza app, in particular, is praised for its efficiency and innovation, helping make Domino’s Pizza the world’s largest pizza chain by global revenue.
Additionally, by providing in-app delivery features, you can cater to the thousands of people who want options for omnichannel purchases.
Instacart, a personal grocery shopping service provider in North America, lets customers choose between having their items delivered to their home or picked up curbside. Their app even lets users chat with their assigned shoppers.
Location-based sensor technology is great for businesses operating at multiple locations; if your app detects that a customer is near one of your stores, it sends their phone a push notification.
Apple’s iBeacon is a good example and can help you pull this off with over 200 million iPhone users in America.
The applications of location-based technology extend beyond retailers and restaurants, however. Notably, the Bravo app is popular among gaming enthusiasts because it points poker players to nearby casinos with open poker tables. For customers, this saves time by allowing them to call ahead and even check if the room they choose will be playing their preferred games.
Simultaneously, the app allows managers to more easily manage their rooms by tracking room capacity and keeping them up to date on tournament progress.
In this way, location-based marketing takes advantage of increased smartphone use to more effectively reach consumers.
And having consumers physically closer to your business makes it easier to persuade them to come in and make a purchase or avail of your service — resulting in increased conversion.
Mobile self-service – Hotels
Even hotels can improve the customer experience with apps. Though they don’t completely eliminate the human interaction component that drives the hospitality industry, apps can help guests conveniently and efficiently handle everything, from booking to requesting room service.
Plus, they accommodate multiple languages, too. The Hilton chain of hotels is one such franchise that makes use of this cutting-edge mobile technology to stay ahead of the game.
Its app, Hilton Honors, lets you check into any of its 584 hotels worldwide, and even allows you to use your phone as a room key.
In-app loyalty programs – Cafes
As the world becomes increasingly cashless and cardless, customers are finding it more inconvenient to carry a multitude of loyalty cards with them.
So why not make things easier by integrating the card into your app, or even linking membership payments to services like Google Pay?
You can even take notes from Starbucks. The coffee giant incentivizes its nearly 16 million active members with a point system and gives out rewards once a certain amount has been reached.
In the long run, you’ll still be saving money, as it costs more to regain lost customers than maintain loyal ones.
Business optimization – Businesses
Apps don’t need to be solely client- or customer-based, of course — they can streamline your business operations, too.
Apps help employees work faster and smarter by gamifying the training process and letting managers keep the data they need at their fingertips throughout the workday.
However, you can go beyond boosting short-term efficiency and productivity. Apps like Google Analytics can even consolidate insights on the health of your business, including customer data collected from all the touchpoints mentioned above.
This way, you can make more data-driven decisions, letting you adjust your products, services, and marketing strategies in a way that will optimize your company’s performance in the months ahead.
Mobile apps have greatly improved the way brick-and-mortar companies operate — from helping retail businesses attract customers to allowing hotels to use them to improve the guest experience.
And as more customers and clients continue to lean on apps, industries will find even more uses for them in the coming years.