20 years ago, the world of fashion was static. Competition existed, of course – but most niches had established go-to brands and clear leaders. If you wanted ascetic haute couture, you bought Prada. If you wanted streetwear, you bought Nike or Adidas. If you wanted fast-fashion, you had H&M or Abercrombie & Fitch (depending on your continent). And so on and so forth.
But then, in quick succession, 3 important things happened. First, the world’s middle class grew exponentially, especially in countries like Russia and China. Second, brands like Zara started competing across multiple segments aggressively. Third, the internet and mobile phones changed the way people shop. 79% of all Americans and most Europeans now make online purchases – most of them, via their phones.
Because of this, a fashion retailer’s success is now predicated on their mobile marketing skills. Reaching out to the audience in order to stay top of mind and stimulate repeat purchases is key. How key? Well, right now, 33% of all fashion purchases are made from mobile devices – and many more are made in-store after browsing online. In developed countries, the figures are higher; 50% for the UK, 46% for Japan, 40% for the Netherlands, etc.
With all of this in mind, this article will explain how you can use m-commerce to boost your sales in a tangible way, stand out from the competition and give clients a “big-budget” customer experience.
Shoppers prefer Mobile Shops and Mobile Apps
Shopping used to be about reading magazines, going to the mall for hours to see what’s new in store, comparing prices, waiting for the fitting room and standing in line for the counter. Mobile devices are putting an end to this. In just a few clicks you can check out the new collection of your favorite brand while traveling on the subway to work. No need for uncomfortable fitting rooms or long lines at the counter, or even opening a laptop. Consumers are carrying their own mobile mall with them, 24/7.
When you put it this way, it’s easy to see why 4 out of 5 smartphone owners prefer mobile shopping over in-person or desktop shopping. 79% of consumers say they rely on their smartphones for shopping, whether the final purchase is in store or on the couch.
So, do they use mobile websites or mobile apps for shopping? Last year, mobile websites were still the winning team, but the gap between mobile websites and mobile apps was already so small that mobile websites only made 5% more revenue. In 2018, expect this dynamic to reverse as mobile apps permanently establish themselves as the primary e-commerce platform.
Millennials, in particular, prefer mobile apps over mobile sites, due to better user experiences and extra features like push notifications. Case in point: studies have shown that people between the age of 25 and 34 prefer to purchase products via mobile apps. This is excellent news for fashion retailers because of how influential millennials are. But there’s more good news.
A survey by the Luxury Institute showed that 67% of wealthy smartphone users regularly shop on their devices. This is remarkable, given how tough it is to get these individuals’ attention. And mobile apps don’t just help you engage and convert fickle millennials and busy rich folks, either. It helps you keep them around. A study done by Criteo shows that mobile app users view 4.2x more products per session, will convert 2x as often compared to mobile websites and will come back twice as fast within 30 days.
For fashion retailers, this means that those who do not own their own shopping app yet, are not only missing an extra chance of profit. According to the above statistics, they’re also saying “no” to, doubling their income, enhancing their visibility as a brand and losing more than half of their potential customers.
Having an app is no longer a matter of “to do or not to do”, it is a question of “how and when”.
How mobile apps enhance the shopping experience
Online shopping consists of three steps: browsing, researching and purchasing a product. Mobile apps help customers go through these steps faster, easier and while having fun. How? First of all, once customers download your app, the app is installed on the home screen of the user. Every time they are planning to make a purchase, your brand will be the first that comes to mind. So long as they’ve installed the app, your store is always just a click away. This is huge.
Next, the experience of mobile apps is much smoother and more intuitive than of mobile websites. This is an important factor in how much you end up selling (more on that in this article), and the extra features a mobile app provides make this advantage even bigger:
- Geo-fencing: pps can send location-specific deals, invitations, and promotions via GPS tracking in iOS and Android. For brands, this technology can be used to create more exclusive experiences, combining online and offline activities.
- Personalisation: As shown above, this is the ability of brands to leverage their activities in order to create loyal and active customers. Also, with an app and social media integrated approach, marketing efforts can be improved to tend to even more customers.
- Push Notifications: Perhaps the most interesting of all to retailers – text-message styled pop-ups that are shown to the app users. With email opening rates going down and organic social reach shrinking, this is becoming a whole new marketing channel in itself, where new offers can be communicated directly to the home screen of your customers. Usually, 90% of push notifications are read within the first hour, making this an extremely powerful tool.
Key features of mobile apps for fashion stores
Consumers expect 24/7 access across several channels. Mobile can be the centralized platform that connects all these channels. The fashion consumer is very receptive to impulse purchases – six out of the ten purchases occur within 24 hours after the buying journey started – and having your store in their hands while this is happening will put you in the spotlight during the “consideration” stage.
When it comes to features and mobile app performance, it’s more important to have a fast-working, easy app with little features, than a slow and unreliable app with lots of features. It’s worth cutting down on features if they affect the stability. Due to the superior experience, investing in a native app over a hybrid or web app is highly recommended.
Also, making sure the integration and user journey between your website and app are well created can help your organization become more effective – and give customers a better experience (e.g. through synchronized shopping carts). In other words, this is a win-win for everyone and an outstanding opportunity for marketers.
M-commerce allows people to save not only money but also time. Instead of waiting in queues at the shopping mall, fashion consumers can browse, research and buy everywhere and anywhere through mobile apps. Now is the time to invest in mobile apps – if you haven’t already – because more than half of your customers (and competitors) are already one step ahead.