Everything. The top mobile e-commerce apps are getting everything right. There are no successful retailers, online or off, wishing their neighbor-stores well and concerned only for their customers’ happiness. That’s what they want us to think, but they’re all greedy capitalists, just like everyone else on earth (except for China, but I’m not really au fait with world politics and/or geography, so let’s just think of China as one colossal, successful, greedy retailer, okay?). Now, I’m not going to go into detail about why stores need top-of-the-line mobile apps because I’ve already done that. Ahem. Suffice to say, killer cmobile e-commerce apps equal TOTAL DOMINATION. And here’s what they need:
Online chat? Sales or shipping advice? “May I say, ma’am, green really does bring out the sparkle in your eyes.” It’s got to be there, and it better be good.
Yes, your customer needs to find you, that’s a given, but Google is doing a pretty good job of getting us where we’re going, both in the virtual and the physical world. What location tracking offers is valuable data and insight based on customer location to provides strategies which increase sales. Like selling Girl Scout cookies outside the NYU dorm rooms in the middle of the night.
Retailers keep customers coming back with loyalty promotions and holiday competitions. And they get customers first by making sure their offerings are better, accessible, and established. Considering the feat getting most people to actually look away from their mobile screens, perhaps a little custom iOS app development is all that’s needed to engage the iCrowd.
In-no-va-tion (It sounds cooler when you say it like this – and it should always be cool!)
Store, community and world trends are tracked by the most successful retailers, ensuring their offers are always in demand. Some shopping apps provide comparison and price protection tools, reassuring their customers that consumerism is the only way! Others allow their customers to spread news of their purchases via social media in real time – no need to tell Janice about the beautiful Louboutins you just bought, she’s already seen them on your Facebook page and smoke is coming out of her ears.
Close the Deal
Ever noticed those “No thanks, I’m not interested” boxes you’re forced to click when you try and leave a retail webpage without buying anything? Doesn’t it hurt to click that? Well, it’s supposed to. They are forcing consumers to stand up and say, “No, I do not wish to be stylish! I do not want to have the latest and greatest! I have no desire to be better than my neighbor!” And that’s not the only way to make the sale happen. Approved product reviews to convince shoppers they’re making the right choice, exit offers and upselling to bulk up the cart, wholesale discounts, and 10-minute-only coupons… the mobile development agency designing these elite apps has been given strict instructions to leave no consumer dollar idle!
I only mention this because some of us are still receiving emails from Nigerian investors wishing to give us money, notifications of UK lottery winnings even though we’ve never visited Europe, and bible donation requests (I’ve never really understood this last one, but perhaps there are some very religious folk who simply don’t have access to bibles – if so, please excuse my cynicism). While I am not giving anyone access to my bank account so that they can deposit their investments/my winnings directly into it, as noted above, I am a scornful skeptic. There are many trusting folk out there who need protection.
Many retailers provide free shipping, but a few go the extra mile with free return shipping. Consumers feel a lot safer clicking ‘check-out’ when they can tell themselves that should they wish to return the item, they can. Easily. For free. Without actually speaking to anyone to explaining that they want to avoid divorce and so must return the $1,000 pair of shoes. Now, you might wonder what retailer would make returns free and easy, but once Steve sees those 4-inch stilettos, Jill’s home free. And then Jill owes Steve, so perhaps sending a coupon for Metal Gear Solid V PS4 won’t hurt.
IBM reported that mobile accounted for 22.6% of the total online sales during the 2014 holiday season, but in case you’re still not convinced that an epic mobile app is fundamental to total market monopolization and universal domination – I mean, success – let me run through some of my favorite e-commerce apps:
Offering Instagram-like photo feeds of luxury brands and emerging designers, Spring makes purchasing easier than hooking up via Tinder. There is no shopping cart. Customers simply swipe beneath desired items, and their saved credit card and shipping info is automatically forwarded on. Considering consumers often points to delivery and payment issues as online purchase deterrents, this is state-of-the-art innovation.
With 9 to 12 new products every day, Gadget Flow helps consumers discover cool products and lets them save them in public or private wish lists. Jill never has to buy Steve socks again! No, but seriously, she will have to, just not for his birthday.
Holding nine-minute private auctions for designer branded goods, what better way feel like the jet set? And with discounts of up to 80%, you might also be able to eat for the rest of the month.
A community shopping app that lets users post photos of what they’re looking for (i.e. anything Emily VanCamp wore in Revenge) and have the community help them find it, style it, or buy it for less. It’s like the world is your personal shopper.
This app lets customers book and manage home cleaners and handymen. Users can specify their needs and pay directly from their mobile phones, and then manage and check booking progress. Finally, service ratings making the app even more useful to the next customer.
This payment app means diners never have to wait for the check. By joining a table in the app users can pay and leave a tip, and Cover also automatically splits the bill when necessary. No more mobile phone adding, subtracting, dividing – wait, wait, I forgot about the Irish coffee, I have to start again!
What, you say? There’s a Walmart app, you ask? But then why, oh why, do people continue to frequent Walmart’s brick and mortar store dressed in either their children’s clothes, the tooth fairy's hand-me-downs, superhero suits, stripper gear, or nothing at all? I do not know. This is one of those questions we may never have the answer to, like where is the end of the universe, or why are aliens so interested in the human rectum? But then, perhaps Walmart didn’t design their app for them, because it is, quite frankly, savvy.
- Savings Catcher: if you can find one of their products at a lower price than Walmart is offering it, Walmart will give you an eGift Card for the difference.
- Gift Registry: so you don’t get three kettles and twelve egg timers, your friends and family can log into the app and check out your heart’s desire. And they can also see when others have bought all the cheaper of your heart’s desire thus forced to buy the fancier stuff. Everyone wins. Maybe only you win. But you win!
- Prescription Reorder: reorder via the app for quick in-store pick-up. You might still see some Walmart People, but this allows you to minimize the contact.
- Store Search: check to make sure the item you require is available at your store, which aisle it’s in, and how much it costs – once again, just because Walmart can’t enforce a dress code, they can make your experience as quick and painless as possible.
- Advertising: as if you needed a reason to shop at Walmart.
- Scanner: can’t find the price? Just scan the barcode with your mobile device, and you’re furnished with product specs, price, customer ratings and reviews, and item specific content.
- Store finder: really, you don’t know where your closest Walmart is? Okay, then this one’s for you.
Making It Personal
Now a lot of the apps I’ve mentioned above offer services that cover a range of stores – primarily because individual retailers are leaving gaps in their mobile applications. Designing mobile e-commerce apps that are both user-friendly and innovative should be the top priority of every self-serving uber-competitive merchant (and I mean that in the nicest way – just because I am a lowly writer with no money, doesn’t mean I wish the same for you!). It’s time to prepare for TOTAL DOMINATION by putting it all together in one beautiful app that fuels consumer lust, soothes spending anxiety and disables any irrelevant ‘do I really need this’ notions.