The 2017 holiday season saw mobile shopping surpass desktop for the first time in history. It’s safe to say the trend will continue, and an investment in strong mobile experiences like retail apps will be more important than ever for retailers.
But this post isn’t about the importance of retail in mobile shopping—you already know that. 🙂 It’s time to discuss how retailers with mobile apps can make the most out of their investment in Q4 acquisition by keeping people happy and engaged in Q1 of the new year.
First, let’s examine how consumers use mobile apps during the holidays. Based on a recent Apptentive survey, the majority of consumers (88%) use retail mobile apps, and 65% of them plan on using them for at least some of their holiday shopping. What’s more is that 10% of respondents planned to use mobile apps for all of their holiday shopping. That’s a huge opportunity for retailers, which drives changes to customer acquisition and loyalty strategies prior to the holiday shopping season. When more money is spent to acquire new customers and to turn them into loyal customers around the holiday season, the potential for higher churn is present in the following quarter.
Understanding what mobile shoppers value in retail apps is of equal importance, not just for the holiday season, but for the entire year. Redeeming in-store discounts (29%), price comparison (25%), and viewing a product’s rating and reviews (20%) topped the list for our respondents. Searching for new products, earning rewards points, reading about a product’s features, and ordering out-of-stock items are also top-of-mind for mobile shoppers.
Now that we’ve covered the possibility for high churn and what consumers care about when using retail, let’s talk about how retail mobile teams can effectively combat Q1 churn and get more out of their Q4 investment. Here are eight tips to get you thinking about how to improve your strategy.
1. Connect offline and online experiences
The importance of a positive mobile customer experience extends beyond purchases in the app. Apptentive’s recent survey found 55% of people who use retail mobile apps have used them to browse, then purchase in-store at least once in the last month (we call this “app-rooming”). Not only does the mobile app experience need to be a standalone experience, it should also connect seamlessly with consumers’ physical experiences.
For retailers, a surge in app-rooming not only offers a new way to connect with customers, but another avenue to help drive in-store foot traffic. In-store commerce and m-commerce are both important revenue opportunities for retailers, and a rising tide through app-rooming will help float all ships.
2. Surprise and delight
Whether the customer is engaging for the first time or is one of your loyal customers, sending a Note to your customers can be used to reward loyalty and boost retention. Notes enable you to engage customers who have completed a set of in-app activities.
Perhaps your customer made their first in-app purchase and you’d like to reward them with a 20% coupon off their next purchase. Notes are a great way to keep customers engaged and, as we learned above, to address the customer’s desire to redeem discounts through the mobile app.
3. Make mobile purchasing easy
The ultimate goal for retailers is to increase sales. Reducing friction in the path to purchase is a common sense strategy to influence sales by enabling customers to get what they want, when they want it, with little interference. Mobile can play an integral part in reducing friction digitally and physically.
If the payment process is cumbersome, customers are more likely to abandon their shopping cart. Retailers that make buying easy, such as Amazon’s one-click shopping experience, reap the (monetary) rewards. Amazon has created an easy checkout process that only requires customers to hit one button to complete their purchase.
4. Share positive ratings and reviews
Many retailers (especially those with brick and mortar locations) can benefit from making it easy for their fans to share their positive reviews on Google Places, Yelp, etc. In-app engagement can help you prompt fans to rate your business through the app, rather than simply prompting them to rate the app itself in the App Store.
By using a Note coupled with Apptentive’s Love Dialog, you can understand whether or not customers love your business. If they answer yes, prompt them to leave a review that shares their experience. If they say answer no, connect them to a person or feature that can take their feedback so you can understand why. As always, you can deeply segment customers into cohorts before prompting for reviews with a Note.
And remember: App ratings still matter. A lot. Here’s what our research on App Store ratings shows about affecting conversion.
5. Improve in-app search
Customers open retail apps with a purpose: they’re looking for something specific, or they’re just interested in browsing. While it’s often overlooked, search plays a big part in helping consumers find what they’re looking for. A dismal search experience can lead to churn and loss of revenue. According to Google, mobile search is a key signal that consumers are interested in buying. They found 92% of consumers who searched for a product on mobile made a related purchase.
A study by RichRelevance found that 83% of US consumers said a search box is “important” or “extremely important” to them while shopping, and 76% of consumers said they “always” or “often” use the search box. This is important to note, because 35% of shoppers said they’re dissatisfied with search results on mobile. Even more telling is 38% of shoppers complained they receive worse search results when shopping on their mobile device than they do on their laptop or desktop. Retailers, listen up: Don’t underestimate the power of search.
6. Let feedback drive your product roadmap
Thinking about feedback and new feature development in the context of identifying your fans first, and then learning from them, is an accelerant to roadmap development. As we’ve already discussed, a positive outcome of identifying your fans is identifying the people who are most likely to say great things about you in the App Store and who’ve already raised their hand and said, “We love this brand.”
Consider using in-app surveys to gather feedback on a new feature, open-ended text fields to learn more about an in-app engagement experience, or proactively reach out with in-app messages to encourage customers to engage. These insights should inform your product roadmap and rally your development team around a single point: the customer. If you allow customers to help you prioritize, you can bet you’ll be closer to delivering a great experience than you would be doing it on your own.
7. Proactively give loyal customers tools to deepen their relationships
Loyal customers are in a league of their own. If a customer says, “I’m a huge fan. What you’re doing is great. You allow me to complete the task I came to complete, and I enjoy using your app,” that’s the best case scenario. Building loyalty may not be easy, but it’s always worth it, especially as loyal customers have a very different path that you can take them on.
Let’s say you are a retailer with multiple different shopping apps. When you know that somebody is a huge fan in this scenario, the loyal customer might not know about the other experiences they might love, and it’s up to you to proactively lead them in the right direction to improve their experience.
The best way to give your customers a positive experience? Communication. Reach out, engage them, and make them feel valued. And in fact, we’ve found that simply interacting with customers, proactively and respectfully, can increase three-month retention by as much as 400%.
8. Acknowledge mistakes
Unfortunately no one is perfect, and on the rare occasion that something goes wrong in your app (it crashes, something doesn’t load, a payment doesn’t go through, etc.), sending a Note to apologize to your customers can go a long way. In fact, Apptentive’s research shows that 51% of customers who have a negative experience will respond positively if the company directly addresses the issue. A Note can be a great temporary fix before your next app release.
In order to launch an acknowledgement Note, we encourage our customers to identify common issues within their apps and target events to them. A Note can help explain to your customers that you know of the problem and are addressing it.
Make the most of your Q4 investment in Q1
You’ve already spent resources investing in customer acquisition and loyalty strategies in Q4. Don’t let your foot off the gas in Q1, or your hard work might go to waste.
Here at Apptentive, we focus on helping our customers drive engagement, gauge customer sentiment, and deliver customer-centric mobile experiences. We want to help you make the most of your Q4 opportunities this year based on learnings from our Fortune 100 retail customers. To learn more, reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or request a demo to see what Apptentive’s customer engagement suite can do for you.
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