The mobile web experience has improved immensely in the last couple years – probably beyond our estimations – and it’s meant that people are spending more time and money via their phones.
Apps Coming to the Web
Successful retailers seeking to meet their customers wherever they choose to engage are no longer asking whether or not a mobile app is worth their investment – the question is what kind they should be investing in.
The introduction of Google’s Progressive Web Apps, along with their support for Apple Pay in the Safari browser and instant web push notifications, have been generating increase engagement and conversion rates for brands. These developments have left many retailers wondering if native apps are still even relevant to their business.
Do I Still Need a Native App?
Though native apps are still seen as a positive retail asset to have, they are a costly investment and it’s much more difficult to get users to download applications to their phone today.
So, what is the answer to this retail tech conundrum: Should you be investing in a native app?
The answer is nuanced and it requires thinking through how to use native apps to enable specific business results and identifying what value it can bring to your business and to your consumers.
Build Loyalty and Richer Experiences
Loyal customers today expect an app from their favorite brands and if you don’t have one, your most loyal and lucrative demographic base will think something is missing. Knowing this, it’s not hard to see why the first important application for native apps is loyalty generation.
A lot of retailers choose to invest in native apps to enable loyalty initiatives such as gift cards and points programs, giving consumers a solid incentive to download and engage with their brand. Apps with loyalty functionality will also help the app be featured in the app store.
The second reason that apps are still a very important part of the retail marketing landscape is that they are the medium through which brands can support more interesting, futuristic features that enable richer experiences.
From VR retail experiences to beacons to integrations with wearable tech, the native app is still the medium through which retailers can test, perfect and introduce new technologies to their consumers, helping them to understand their effect on their business with the knowledge that one day these technologies will be a part of the mainstream, everyday experience for shoppers. If this is important to your brand’s retail strategy, you already have your answer.
Meeting Customers Everywhere
The buyer’s journey today is more fragmented than ever and with more and more touchpoints for consumers to engage with your brand, the shopper’s mentality is that the brands they like should be on all of them. In their minds, if you’re not there, you are out of touch and/or don’t really want their business.
There will always be another new platform or touchpoint to consider, so retailers must develop a flexible and comprehensive approach that will allow them to be on all the touchpoints of a buyer’s journey and stay ahead of the competition.
Even if recent improvements in web have reaffirmed its status as the touchpoint for any growing, successful retailer, there are still very interesting use cases for native applications and since loyalty and staying ahead of the retail curb are two of them, you should be considering native apps as part of your 2017 strategy.
To determine when and how to best fit apps into your mobile commerce strategy, download our App vs. Web Guide.