The main asset of any e-commerce business is usually considered to be a highly optimized and well-designed online store. Retailers are still hesitant if they need to create a mobile app that will copy their existing site. However, they definitely have to do it, and here’s why.
In 2016, Google published a study  in which 58% of mobile users use their smartphones to monitor prices, offers, and discounts, check reviews, compare products, and even purchase products. What’s more, 66% of those people used their device to make a purchase at least once a week. Thus, it might seem that 38% of purchases made via mobile devices are not that high for mobile devices. However, every online store owner should remember that customers firstly use their smartphones to check available offers, and only then – their desktops. Given these statistics, plenty of questions arise: Isn’t a responsive site a better alternative to a mobile app, or isn’t a responsive site alone enough to run e-commerce? This may be enough, but nothing more. In this article, we’ll take a look at the main benefits that mobile apps offer.
- New sales channel
Is your online store already presented in Bing, Google Search, and social networks? Then it’s time to move to a new level – to create a mobile application for your store and place it in the Google Play Market. Customers will be able to buy your products directly from their smartphones. Your shop icon will always be on their screen.
Google Play is the largest platform with millions of users around the world. All the market leaders are already there: ASOS, Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, etc. This is a reason to create your own application.
- Gather a loyal audience and a base of regular customers
Mobile solutions make the connection between online stores and customers stronger. Online shoppers who use their smartphones to shop prefer the apps that their favourite stores offer. Plus, when the app is on the customer’s screen, they are more likely to return to your store.
How to get people to download and install the app? Just offer them personalized offers or limited discounts to encourage them to install your app. This will automatically build up your customer base. Your regular customers’ retention generates you constant profit without advertising costs, therefore, the more there are, the better.
- Increase in the number of orders
Flurry Analytics claims that users spend 90% of their time interacting with their mobile devices in apps . Experts believe that now this is the age of mobile applications. The statistics also show that 79% of smartphone users use one or more online store applications .
More than 50% of buyers are already entering stores from mobile devices, and this percentage will continue to grow. Make their purchases convenient with the app, and then they will buy from you rather than looking for more convenient stores and competitors’ apps!
How can you find out from which device visitors enter your store?
The number of visitors from mobile devices is easy to see in your counter. You can use Google Analytics for this purpose. If you do not track these statistics for your store, it makes sense to reconfigure the counters and analyze: who visits you and from what devices. This data will help make the site convenient for all of your visitors.
Technologies have recently reached a level where buying from a mobile device has become as convenient as from a computer. Be faster than competitors, create your own mobile application, and use all its capabilities to the fullest.
- Automated round-the-clock sales
The application works automatically and does not require complex configuration, you do not have to look for additional employees. You connect applications once in the store control panel and then everything works by itself. All prices are updated by ourselves. You can also manage the application from the store’s administrative control panel.
So, in order to remain competitive, your business should have not only a website that supports the most popular mobile browsers, systems, and their versions, but also its own mobile application, because:
- app users are more involved in the buying process and are willing to buy more;
- when your app icon is on your customer’s screen, they are more likely to return to your store again;
- you can also pay directly from your phone, online – this reduces the consideration time to a minimum.
Thus, the mobile application increases conversion and average purchase order, helps maintain relationships with customers, motivates them to make new purchases, and recommends the store to friends and family. The world is changing very quickly, and therefore you need to constantly improve your business so as not to be left out.
- Faster content loading
Few online retailers realize that a slow-loading website can damage your business. Customers hate slow sites and often go to other market participants due to the lack of a positive user experience. According to Kissmetrics, if a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of visitors will go straight to another site . This is why online shopping needs to be fast enough to build a solid core of repeat customers. This is where mobile apps have a huge advantage over websites. Since mobile shopping apps do not need an internet connection to provide users with basic functionality such as comparing products or checking prices, they make good use of the device’s full performance. In turn, sites need a constant Internet connection to update any part of their content.
However, this does not mean that speed is irrelevant for mobile applications. They also need to be fast, because the same rule still applies in this situation. Users tend to uninstall an app from their devices if it takes too long to download or complete any operations with it.
- A better UI than on a website
The absence of the need for constant access to the Internet for the application to work increases the convenience of its use. This allows applications to load heavy animations or high definition images much faster, making the design of an e-commerce application stylish, modern, and vibrant.
The architecture of the application allows developers to create exclusive and useful features with intuitive navigation. Another advantage that an online store on Android or iOS provides is the ability to implement gamification. It has become a trend in app development as gamification creates higher levels of interactivity and user experience.
- Greater interactivity
Mobile apps encourage smartphone users to share links to their favourite sites or ask friends to share their opinion on a particular product or service by using social media. This marketing channel is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to promote your products. Every loyal customer who has your mobile app automatically becomes a live platform for advertising your online store on social media like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. People admire exclusive things. Make a special offer for those who have installed your application and they will be happy to share a few links to your site.
- Using built-in smartphone features
Modern mobile applications provide various options for more seamless user interaction. The website cannot provide customers with the option to use the built-in camera to show their friends their new clothes without leaving the site. With the help of the app, this becomes a simple action for a few seconds. Another way to increase user engagement is to implement a voice recognition feature that will allow users to navigate menus or subscribe to newsletters. Also, for example, your application can show the location of the nearest offline store using GPS.
- Increase conversions with push notifications
Most of the popular mobile e-commerce apps regularly send push notifications to smartphone owners. Compared to traditional SMS, push notifications are a cheaper advertising channel. They eliminate the need for databases containing user phone numbers. What’s more, push notifications are more effective than emails, as they are always available to users if they haven’t turned off notifications on their device. In addition, there is no spam folder for push notifications and it is difficult to ignore them.
- Increase the average check
As practice shows, most authorized users make orders through the application. This allows the seller to make them personal offers, give additional bonuses, and implement individualized discount programs. High speed of loading catalogues, comfortable usability, additional functionality such as a recommendation system, the ability to compare commodity items, and wishlist have a positive effect on customer loyalty.
Mobile app development is a necessary step for e-commerce business owners. A website with a responsive design is a sufficient measure only at the first stages of a project to test a business idea or market. To gain significant market share, it is necessary to develop an online store for Android and iOS platforms, which will provide a fertile ground for implementing advanced marketing techniques to attract more customers and increase revenue.
List of resources: https://storage.googleapis.com/think/docs/app-marketing-mobile-shopping.pdf  https://www.flurry.com/blog/seven-years-into-the-mobile-revolution-content-is/  https://www.outerboxdesign.com/web-design-articles/mobile-ecommerce-statistics  https://neilpatel.com/blog/loading-time/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Anastasia Kushnir is a writer at Bamboo Agile, an Estonia-based development company. She prefers writing about the trends in modern technologies and digital solutions for e-Commerce, education, and healthcare.