Several years ago mobile applications seemed like a some sort of a whim affordable only by the most wealthy companies which could grind money this way. At that time is was rare to talk about a success of any solution. However, market changes, the number of smartphones and tablets is increasing at a pace that is sometimes hard to imagine. The market of mobile applications has grown ginormously and hundreds of thousands of different applications may be found in stores. Are they really that important for our business?
Being part of a digital world
Mobile applications, whether utility or shopping ones, are a very important element of digital brand strategy. Thanks to them we can be in constant contact with our clients or fans. Looking at ComsScore data, it is easy to see what the application market looks like currently. Jointly, iOS and Android users spend 86% of their time using applications and only 14% of their time using a web browser. This data regards the American market but when we look at the Polish market, we can see that in our country mobile applications, the shopping ones in particular, also are doing quite well.
The Chamber of Digital Economy reports that 1/3 of Poles do shopping using mobile devices and 41% of them use shopping applications. OLX, Allegro and Rossmann rank among the largest ones. It is worth adding more piece of information: throughout 2017, the leading Polish shopping applications in terms of coverage were OLX.pl (coverage of 17.59%), Allegro (14.16%), Rossmann (14%) and AliExpress (11.86%). According to the survey “Shopping behaviours in stores” only 6% uses shopping applications in stationary shops and only 2% creates shopping lists using them. These applications achieve the best statistics in December as this is the gifting period when we go on a serious shopping spree.
Why it is worth to have a mobile application?
A mobile application gives a plethora of opportunities, which do not always occur in other channels. First of all, it allows to provide the user with appropriate information (for example when the company is open or where to look for facilities), can have a product browser, allow to reserve a seat or a product, allow to create and account and check the order history. At the same time, from the marketing point of view, an application enables to personalise advertising. Push messages can be directed at specific persons or work on the principle of geolocation. There is an abundance of options. Allowance coupons, free samples, trials – all this may be provided to the application user in an easy way. However, the main advantage of the application is the fact that we can be visible for the client at all times. No wonder – they have us in their pocket.
What should an ideal application look like?
As Criteo reports, applications lose even 77% of users within three days from their installation. All that because they do not always meet the users’ expectations. For many of them the first few minutes is sufficient to decide about the “to be or not to be” of the application. The most important elements of good software of such type are as follows:
- performance speed – users care about speed and fluent performance of their application. WWW websites which load too long are usually left by the users after a few seconds; the same applies here. If photos, animations and videos overload the system and do not allow using the application fluently, it will usually land in their trash quickly;
- stability – what we do not like the most? When the saved shopping cart or list disappears or an application “crashes” just like that. Sudden shutdowns, caused for example by the lack of previous testing, is just one of many problems. Well-developed applications guarantee stability;
- ease of use – UX, meaning the user experience design, is a very important part of every application – how the elements are arranged or whether it is transparent and easy to use. The clients’ experience in contact with our digital product should be high-level. This is why many brands use client surveys. They do that even before releasing their application because a well-selected focus group helps to correct mistakes and streamline the interface.
- variety of options – applications can be used for different purposes: to purchase, book dates, finding places, etc. It is worth for our application to have many important and comfortable options and solutions for the users. If it will be used for shopping, the products should be easy to find; it is also good if the application allows saving the shopping cart and gives many options of payment. If it will be used for booking dates, it should send booking reminders and make it possible to transfer a booking onto a different date. These are obviously just examples, yet it is exactly about assumptions, about solutions which are to facilitate the clients’ lives, thanks to which they will be willing to use the application.
Standing out from the competition
As many applications have a fleeting life, caused by imitativeness, mistakes and little interest among the users, it is worth thinking about how we can stand out from others. Sometimes a small functionality can tip the balance on our side. Solutions based on data science or machine learning appear more and more frequently, thanks to which they themselves adjust to the behaviours of the clients. It is good to think about that.
In the case of many brands, mobile applications are one of the main channels with which the client gets in touch with the brand. They are simple, stable, transparent and useful. Obviously, we are talking about those that are the best. In addition, they allow having a conversation with the client, which is what we really need the most in building loyalty. This is what modern marketing looks like.