Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Mobile Apps transforming the Retail Sector

Smart phones are considered to be one of the best inventions of the 21st century and the innumerable easily downloadable applications have greased the wheels of their usage. The greatest impact of the mobile applications has been seen in the e-commerce sector. Technology being so ubiquitous and colossal, the world of commerce and e-commerce have seamlessly merged. Shopping experience has been redefined with the novelty of mobile applications. These have empowered the customers to opt from a wide range of choices. Be it price comparison or customer support, today customers have the benediction of a fulfilled shopping experience via an app. These apps range from those that advertise the latest goods to those that remind the customer of the names of their favourite brands.

Statistics show that 88 percent of respondents use mobile shopping apps. With mobile app usage on the rise, retailers can’t afford to miss out on the growing opportunities for mobile revenue. In order to bring their products directly to their customer’s phones, retailers have started working on mobile apps. In fact, 45 percent of consumers use their phone for in-store price comparisons, and 65 percent of consumers have retailer applications on their phone. These apps help consumers compare prices, navigate store locations, check inventory, scan bar codes to see product reviews and get location-specific deals or even redeem discount vouchers even while in-store. This illustrates an intersection between the digital and physical shopping experience.

As the use of mobile applications increases, the expectation of consumers for improvement of interface increases proportionally. To meet the expectations of potential mobile application users, retailers have buckled out by analysing data, accessing it in the cloud and performing meaningful analytics. Today, consumers are just a click away from their desired product available at their desired store.

In an effort to keep their customers more informed about their desired products, retailers through the mobile apps now send personalized and timely offerings. By analysing the customers purchase history, retailers can also suggest the latest arrivals and brands of the same product or similar products. In addition to a higher level of consumer engagement and higher conversion rates from integrated mobile offers, local retailers benefit by providing home delivery option.

Mobile apps are empowering retailers like never before. They can easily up-sell or cross-sell, or create targeted personalized offers based on real-time information collected while interacting with customers in-store to enhance the customer experience. The monitoring of traffic and statistical analysis of the overall productivity is now done with great ease using the apps.

Another factor that lures consumers towards using mobile apps for purchase of commodities is online payment. Mobile payments are on the up with smartphones powering card-based transactions through apps. Online payment for products and services via credit or debit cards through mobile devices has cut out the card altogether. The number of mobile transactions was estimated to be near 50 million in 2015.

Change is afoot with the emergence of digital wallets that link users’ payment cards to their mobile apps. At a time when the financial services industry is going through some fundamental shifts, the technological development brought through the introduction of mobile apps has spurred up the overall productivity and performance of both small scale as well as large scale retailers. The fact that the largest e-commerce merchants do not carry any overhead costs for physical stores allows them to hold down prices for customers.

The hunger for online shopping knows no bounds. The rise of mobile wallets, promotion, discounts, comparison shopping and many other perks has totally transformed the way retailers and consumers interact. The voluminous varieties of products being made available in the app and the timely notification of availability of desired products when in stock have caught the pulse of a typical consumer.  
With these advancements leaping up, small scale retailers are also equally benefited by cutting down store maintenance costs and also by the opportunity to compete with bigger brands. Online commerce is being replaced by mobile commerce. Consumers want convenience, portability and security. Offering all these, mobile apps are on the go and they have not just transformed the state of retail sector but have become the driving force. Consumers demand mobile applications that are updated constantly, personalized and unique to meet their needs. Hence notable efforts are being put into improving the mobile app quality, experience and engagement.

All these changing dynamics are causing retailers to rethink their strategies. Retailers have pulled up their socks to improve the critical shopping experience via the mobile apps because it makes up 20 percent of their total annual revenue. The goal is allowing customers to make purchasing decisions on their favorite devices and over their preferred channels. 

It is not just the retail sector that has transformed but the total shopping experience, as mobile apps have accommodated consumers with the pleasure of shopping from where they are and enjoying free deliveries to their doorstep!!