Free Press Journal

Mobile Applications To Be or Not To Be


New app,

With the advent of mobile apps becoming a craze, retailers have an important question to ask themselves – Is A Mobile App Right For You?  Explore the do’s and don’ts of developing a mobile application and the benefits of this upcoming marketing trend.

Take a look at the possibilities a mobile app can bring, and some crucial questions retailers must ask themselves.

Online shopping took a turn for the better in the last few years. India has shown a tremendous amount of change in consumer behavior, taking risks and the need for new. Whether it is eliminating the need to always touch and feel the product you buy, or banking on the convenience of deliveries to your doorstep, the Indian consumer is now comfortable with the idea of online shopping as a day-to-day routine. To take things further, faster ways to access online retailers, and bigger ways to promote products have been on the rise. The Indian consumer is more open to creative ways of buying and convenient access to stores.

Online shopping has now matured from users pushing their cursor across the desktop to find the perfect product, to simply swishing across their phone screen. In one of its recent reports, ComScore pointed out that two thirds of all smart phone owners indulge in some sort of shopping activity on their phones. From comparing prices to searching for coupons, or even making their purchases predominantly through the mobile, customers now rely on the idea of being able to shop anywhere and anytime. If not that, you can also see customers looking for the location of a retail store on their hand held device.

Back when mobile apps were not the top-dogs, the ability of the retailers to track customers was fairly limited. But with the amalgamation of the Internet and telecommunications, we see a paradigm shift in the way retail transactions occur. Customers now have access to the Internet at all times. Mobile Applications have changed the way retailers communicate with their audience, encouraging them to offer discounts, coupons and even promote themselves through these applications. Companies like Amazon offer special discounts to customers that make purchases through their mobile app.  Myntra even offers incentives and encourages their customers to transact with them ONLY using the app. It is noticed that companies are now inching towards having a closer relationship with their customers.

Mobile apps have become an integral part of online retail and here is why:

Enhancing Your Retail Experience:

Mobile apps have a knack of making the entire process of shopping simpler. Instead of going through the entire website of the retailer, mobile apps help you dial down a few steps. You can customize your transactional experience by drilling your search down to specific products that suit your liking. They are feature rich in a number of ways.

Mobile applications help the retailer reach their customers on a more personal level. They enable the promotion of latest offers, discounts, and marketing their brand. It helps build a relationship between customer and retailer. The level of engagement that mobile apps offer surpasses that of the outdated desktop experience.

Promotions and Incentives Can Now Be On-The-Go:

Email promotions were the crux of reaching out to customers a while back. But now with mobile apps, there is more certainty of your message showcased to your audience. Mobile applications can be developed to specifically track the location of users through GPS. This gives retailers an advantage to send location-specific promotional offers and coupons to customers. These applications can also help track the mobile behavior of their target market. In turn this helps retailers customize their marketing message to individual customers.

Enhancing Engagement Levels:

If there is one thing that excites a retailer, it is the notion of user experience becoming viral. Mobile apps specifically help do that. Back when shopping was done at a store, the experience sometimes spread through word of mouth or was forgotten within a span of 15 minutes. Mobile apps add a “social factor” to shopping. Not only can customers shop online, but also share this piece of information or their experience though social media. These apps help users connect to social networks and express themselves giving them a chance to voice their opinions.

Enhanced Transaction Privacy:

As these transactions get more personalized, it gets easier for the retailer to ensure, and secure transactional payments and completion. Most apps have ’one-click-purchase’ trends as a norm now.

Subtractions to your additions:

On a more neutral note, there are a few things to keep in mind when thinking of updating your marketing plan with a mobile app. Although studded with a bunch of advantageous points, there are a few key questions you MUST ask yourself before taking the decision.

Here are some of the question marks you must have:

Do your products demand a repeat-rate in access to the app?

It is not a new story that many applications are downloaded, used once and forgotten about. During the occasional 15 minutes where you have nothing to do but browse through your phone screen, these applications are deleted. Before making a mobile app, you need ask yourself if your product supports the need for consumers to log on to the app repeatedly. Some products require a single transaction or maybe a couple of transactions set between wide intervals of time.

For example: If you provide services of a taxi or the sale of jewelry, the chances of the customer accessing the mobile app more than once a day, a week or month are high. But if you provide insurance services or a wedding planner, these transactions are merely one-time based. You can be sure that convincing customers to download the app will be tougher, and chances are they will uninstall it once the transaction is done, (as there is no use for it in the near future).

Does the screen size affect your service/product?

It is key to keep in mind the mobile screen is a small one. There are still some services and products offered that require a better viewing and wider screens for navigation. Ask yourself if you are a part of that category.

Is it the right investment, or are you doing it to stay current?

Before building an app there are a number of factors to take into account that might affect your business. It takes money to build an app, and it is integral you ask yourself if it is the right decision. Pumping money into the development, and an added extra into marketing, app-store rankings, feedback etc. are only the tip of the iceberg. Weigh the pros and cons of the necessity of the app to your business, and see if the ultimate act of developing an app is going to bring in more sales and transactions to ring returns on your investment or not. Unfortunately users like a clean space on their phones, and most customers prefer to download a handful or maybe a dozen apps that they will really use on a day-to-day basis. A retailer must ask himself if his app could be in the top ten most engaging apps for their target audience. If not, the decision may have some re-thinking to do.

Features Your Application May Offer:

It is great to go above and beyond, to entice your target audience. But it is crucial to ensure your features are relevant to the customers needs. The question as to whether the feature will affect the customers decision to buy a product or not must be at the top of the list. In the end the most important factors that play a role in customer decisions are – better supply, delivery convenience, prices and offers. Keep this in mind while entertaining the idea of an enticing app.

In Conclusion:

There is a bright and dark side to everything and the same philosophy follows through with this decision. Strategy is key to it all and will go a long way if you have a good one. Look at your target market and behavior and ask yourself if a mobile app is the way to go. If your customers are vibrant and willing to explore your services on a mobile app, and if your product or service would best grow through a mobile app, then this is the right way for you to maximize your profits.

On the other hand, sometimes it is better to stick with the classics. Saying no to obvious choices if they don’t make sense to you can be the best option. Do not jump in with the rest, instead look at whether a mobile app will benefit your users, and your services.

The outlook of customers is changing across the globe. According to a Forrester study, it is expected that mobile commerce will quadruple to $31 billion in five years (2012-17). Users who previously showed reluctance to using mobile apps as a way to shop online are now more comfortable with the notion and are warming up to the swish-and-shop experience. There is an undeniable increase of customers using mobile applications to make purchases and it is said that 85% of consumers prefer mobile applications over mobile websites, hence the data is compelling.

So don your thinking caps and explore the growing arena of Mobile Applications!