Posted on | December 15, 2015
Written by | Ian Griffith
What do customers want from a digital shopping experience?
For retailers who have found some success with online sales, a state of the art eCommerce website may no longer feel sufficient to keep up with shopping trends. Customers are increasingly looking to engage your store on a mobile platform, and while optimizing your website for mobile will satisfy most customers, there will be some who insist that their needs can only be met by a mobile app. But building a customized app can be expensive and the business model is often unclear.
In little more than 10 years, smartphone use has grown to include 70% of online shoppers in the U.S., while tablets are owned by half, according to Forrester Research. Together smartphones and tablets account for about $115B in retail sales, with tablets responsible for the majority. According to Forrester’s survey respondents, “phones are just not easy for buying,” which leads to smaller transactions. They are more likely to switch from a phone to a PC to complete a transaction because the screen is too small. Forrester’s survey indicates that 40% of mobile purchases are happening though a mobile app instead of on a mobile-optimized website, but few customers say they prefer shopping on an app over a website.
Much of retail app development is being driven by Millennials, the first generation to have grown up with the internet. Now in their 20s and early 30s, Millennials are said to spend 75 hours per month using mobile apps, according to comScore. This group is an attractive demographic for marketers, although the merits of targeting them has been hotly debated within the wine industry. Still according to a study by Oracle, the smartphone is their device of choice, and 58% of this group has purchased a product from a phone.
While a PC is still the easiest place for a consumer to make a purchase, a growing share of your customers will find it convenient to order using an app. However, the decision to build a mobile app needs to go beyond providing another channel for collecting sales. An app needs to take advantage of native functionality on the phone to simplify tasks for your customers. Some prominent wine stores have set up apps to provide food and wine recommendations, or to remind shoppers about a store’s event calendar. Imagine using the phone’s camera to scan and read labels, then keep notes on the wines enjoyed.
Leading retailers are very excited about the potential of new technology that uses location-based services within a smartphone. Geo-fencing promises to alert a retailer when a known customer is in the store, tipping off the sales staff about the customer’s purchase history. A related technology, the iBeacon, pushes notifications to your customer as she passes through the store, highlighting discounts or special offers. The prospect of pushing promotions to your customer’s phone, while very attractive to merchandisers, requires a soft touch so alerts don’t become equated with email spam.
Look at a mobile app investment being less about finding new customers than it is about providing tools that build loyalty from existing customers. By the time a consumer has found and downloaded your app they are asking you to deliver more service in exchange for a larger share of their business.
To learn more about how Beverage Media can help with a website for your store visit BevSites.com, or contact James Laurenti at 617-864-1677. Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/bevsites.