By Paul Skeldon

With mobile shopping on the rise, your first thought may be to develop and app – but an app is more than just the app part, it involves integrating with all the other digital tools you have at your disposal. Antony Nash, Customer Experience Innovation Manager, NN4M, explains

By the end of 2017 mobile phones will account for more than 60% of digital traffic, much of which will be driven by online shopping. Digital retail is here to stay with the mobile phone firmly on the way to becoming the shopping tool of choice.

While the two primary channels for mobile shopping, the mobile website and mobile app, are both vital for any retailer serious about connecting with their customer in the digital space, it is the app that offers the greater potential for customer interaction, loyalty and conversion. Compared to a mobile website, a shopper using a mobile app generates 2.6 times more revenue (average order value is 50% higher) while apps increase loyalty as users interact with a brand through its app 2.8 times more often than via its mobile website.

This sounds good but without a cohesive mobile strategy, the app alone won’t guarantee success. Many retailers tick all the right boxes but fall short of creating an effective mobile presence. A truly successful mobile retail solution requires the customised integration of native app platforms, retail targeted analytics and strategic push messaging combined with an understanding of the unique needs of the brand’s customers. While the app itself is a powerful tool its effectiveness is limited without the integration and support of these other factors.

Because native apps are built specifically for a particular device and its operating system they can take advantage of many aspects of the device’s hardware and software that are inaccessible to a mobile website. The device’s camera can be used to scan barcodes from within the app in order to quickly search for products or a phone’s GPS can drive location services within the app to find a user’s nearest store. A scanned barcode could immediately find all instances of a specific item at stores within a certain distance of the user’s location.

Leveraging the capabilities of the hardware allows apps to deliver customised content relevant to users when it is most effective. Push notifications can use an operating system’s built in notifications to allow a retailer to interact directly with their customers in real time where and when it matters most.

For example, a notification could be sent informing the user of a discount on an item that customer has previously added to a wishlist when they are near a store that has the item in stock. In this way the integration of the possibilities opened up by native apps and their access to location and customer activity data can be a highly effective method of creating a seamless merging of the offline and online user experiences, delivering online…