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13 Reasons Why you Need an eCommerce Mobile App

Online shopping is spiking across categories, and that can turn channel strategy into a balancing act. Amongst all the variables there’s one thing you can be sure of: eCommerce mobile apps are going to be vital for success. Read the top reasons why you need an ecommerce mobile app.

There’s a lot of high-fiving in eCommerce these days. More and more eCommerce teams are smashing their growth targets, sometimes with minimal effort.

The current pandemic is speeding everything up and it seems there’s no ceiling for online sales. So what’s the take-way?

Don’t argue with success! If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it — right?

In the long term, just riding the wave won’t be enough. We’re all operating in an environment where things can change on a dime. Think back to the big-name bricks & mortar chains that held off on investing in eCommerce … now lost to the mists of time.

There’s the big jump to online everyone’s talking about, and then there’s a less visible leap that promises to transform everything again. Mobile is its name.

“Everywhere you look, people are hunched over their smartphones. All ages. All countries. 24/7. That’s why most traffic to webstores now arrives from mobile devices.”

Even a glance at online shopping trends tells you mobile is the direction of travel. There’s something else that stands out too: B2C or B2B; the best mobile eCommerce results are driven by mobile eCommerce apps.

And not just by pumping short-term conversion. eCommerce apps enhance the end-user experience, improve loyalty, and increase customer lifetime value.

I know what you’re thinking. There’s a lot of hype around mobile — always has been. Here are 13 reasons why this time, it’s different.

Shoppers want mobile apps

The numbers are in and the winners have been announced. Shoppers prefer mobile over desktop. According to Statista, 73 percent of eCommerce sales worldwide will come from smartphones (and tablets, though to a lesser degree) by the end of 2021.

mobile percentage ecommerce sales why ecommerce mobile app

Mobile has been edging into the eCommerce lead since at least 2017, yet there are still brands out there that have missed the news. Digging deeper into the numbers, mobile eCommerce apps are the clear winner when it comes to shopping on the go.

They capture 90 percent of users' time versus just 10 percent for mobile web sites. That translates into more than 200 minutes per month on apps versus 11 minutes on mobile sites.

Time spent by app category

Social media apps like Instagram and Facebook may dominate the mobile app ecosystem, but they’re not the whole story. Category-wise, shopping apps top the charts, coming in at 4th place after social, entertainment and gaming.

Time spent by content category

Ecommerce mobile apps are also growing at an annual rate of 54 percent. That’s the highest growth rate in any app category. The average year-over-year growth rates for all mobile app categories is 6 percent. Shopping is a whopping 48 percent higher than the average.

It’s not hard to understand why apps beat mobile sites for users’ attention. If you need an Uber, do you tap the app or visit the mobile website? If you want to check your Facebook feed, do you open your mobile browser or open the app? Both Uber and Facebook have pretty decent mobile websites. So why do the vast majority of us go through the bother of downloading and signing into their apps instead?

Because apps deliver the best experience — full stop. You log in once and all your profile, contact, address, payment, settings, and history, are ready and up to date. It saves loads of time. And apps offer the added bonus of getting notified about the things you care about most; via push messages, for example.

Mobile websites just can’t deliver all those benefits or wrap them together in a seamless package with a slick, intuitive user interface. So it’s no mystery why there’s such a huge gap between mobile web browser and mobile app usage.

Joining the dots between eCommerce mobile apps and hitting your future eCommerce sales targets isn't rocket science.

With mobile sales dominating online shopping, app usage outstripping the channel alternatives, and the shopping app category growing faster than literally every other type of app on the market, you know by default that eCommerce mobile apps are going to drive online sales this year, next year, and beyond.

“Ecommerce mobile apps are also growing at an annual rate of 54 percent. That’s the highest growth rate in any app category. The average year-over-year growth rates for all mobile app categories is 6 percent.”

1. Mobile is bigger than desktop

Once upon a time, there was a world without the internet. Then the dot-com boom arrived, and web browsers were everywhere. A lot of traditional retail businesses decided it was all a fad. They brushed it off, bided their time, took a wait-and-see approach.

And now they’re gone.

Why didn’t they get on board and invest sooner? Because the internet delivers transformative change at warp speed. By the time a new online trend has been uncovered, the leaders and laggards are already established. Hanging back and waiting lets others get out in front.

Events overtook many of the old bricks & mortar brands. They reached a point it was too late to make the switch. Today, mobile shopping is repeating the pattern.

When mobile dominates online shopping, app usage outstrips the channel alternatives, and the shopping app category grows faster than all the others combined; you know eCommerce mobile apps are going to drive online sales this year, next year, and beyond.

Under the pandemic, the shift to online shopping has accelerated again. Mobile purchases are now expected to account for 73 percent of global eCommerce sales by the end of this year.

Mobile growth

People have grown accustomed to using their smartphones for shopping. It’s just so much more convenient than sitting at a desk and turning on a computer. Handsets are rarely more than an arm’s length away, not so your laptop or desktop PC.

Mobile makes it possible to buy things on the bus, train, coffee shop or sitting in front of the television. It’s just that easy.

As mobile sales continue to trend upward, the best way to take advantage of the trend is to launch a mobile app of your own.

Our own research shows a huge increase in monthly downloads of retail apps globally.

- Downloads grew 22% year-on-year from September 2019 to September 2020.
- Retailers saw in-app revenue increase by 45% YoY from September ’19 to September ’20.

In-app revenue and downloads

02 It will get you more sales

If you’re going to invest in a new sales channel, it has to add to the bottom line. Apps are about more than awareness. The business case has to be ‘this will generate new sales and add mobile revenue’, not create buzz or cannibalize existing channels.

The good news is, mobile eCommerce apps deliver. Research from mobile market analysts Criteo says businesses with a shopping app typically see a 53 percent rise in mobile revenue.
Apps account for 70% of mobile sales for retailers who invest in both mobile web
and shopping apps.

The app opportunity

Conversion rates go up too. Shopping apps convert visitors to shoppers at 3-times the rate mobile sites do.

Consumers spend more time, view more products, and add to their basket. That doesn't happen when brands offer a mobile website alone.

Conversion funnel by channel

According to Social Media Today, 70 percent of mobile searches lead to action within an hour. Mobile shoppers will pay you back for making their lives easier by acting fast on buying decisions, often in an hour or less. Desktop users can take up to a month.

In fast-growing subcategories like health & beauty, sporting goods, and fashion, the affect is even more pronounced.

Mobile sales retail category

03 Apps offer a better experience

Another reason shoppers prefer apps over websites is that they simply work better. A well-designed mobile app lets you get things done quickly and easily, with fewer clicks and minimal need for data input.

Websites have to rely on web servers to access user data. Apps usually store data locally on the user’s smartphone. That simplifies data retrieval and makes mobile apps faster.

Apps also store users’ preferences, which means they can automate actions like searches, product updates, and notifications.

The technical building blocks used in app development are also more efficient.
Mobile websites use javascript code to perform most of their functions. The framework used by most mobile apps typically runs five times faster than java.

Though the operations happen in the background, users complete actions with less effort on an app, making for a better user experience (UX).

That’s why people also use apps in-store. Fifty-seven percent of shoppers say they use a retailer’s mobile apps when they’re physically walking the aisles, often to redeem or find coupons or discover items on sale.

04 Apps drive customer loyalty

Imagine you’re on the train home during the rush hour commute and want to book a room for a weekend mini-break. You don't have a lot of space, and time is tight before you reach the station. Sitting at your desk, you might look on Trivago or Expedia. But there’s the Airbnb app glowing on your phone’s home screen. Where do you think you’ll look first?

When shoppers add your app to their phones, they literally take your store with them wherever they go. With your app icon glowing up at them, they're much less likely to browse over to a competitor. Apps deliver customer lock-in; app users are more than twice as likely to return for additional purchases than mobile website visitors.

That powers-up brand recall, making your app a personal digital billboard that constantly reminds customers to drop in and see what’s new. That improves loyalty and adds to each customer’s lifetime value.

Mobile eCommerce apps offer more options for keeping shoppers actively engaged by increasing the numbers of personalized interactions.

That’s a differentiator that can prompt shoppers to choose you over competitors. Implement a mobile customer loyalty program, and you'll improve your position even more. Having an eCommerce mobile app increases the chances that customers will sign-up. That’s also why the frequency of usage for retail and ecommerce apps is so high.

Mobile retail app usage

05 you can send push messages

If a customer doesn’t have your app on their phone, they’ll need to go looking for you. You’ll have to wait for them to navigate their way to your virtual aisles before you have any chance to convert visits into sales.

That’s another way apps prove their worth. Traditional marketing will drive eCommerce traffic by spending on email campaigns and social media ads to entice prospects over from other channels. With a mobile app, you can reach actual (e.g. qualified) customers directly with push notifications.

That can consume a lot of budget and still only deliver single-digit growth. So let's look at the engagement rates push notifications can offer compared to traditional email marketing.

- The rates for push notifications is 60 percent, versus just 20 percent of emails.
- When a notification message is opened, 40 percent of people clickthrough —compared to just 5.4 percent of emails.

Push notifications open rate

Why are push notifications so much more effective? Because users don’t have to do a thing.

To attract a prospect on social media, you need them to take multiple prior actions as a prerequisite for the opportunity to make a sale. They have to be using that social platform, must your post or advertisement, be intrigued enough by it to visit your website, and then create an offer so compelling it convinces them to make a purchase. For time-compressed consumers used to instant gratification, it’s just too many steps.

The same is true for email. To become a prospect, the recipient has to have signed for your emails. Then they have to open the messages you send, read them, and be interested enough to click the link and visit your site.

With push notifications, the market message is on the home screen as soon as the user glances at their phone. It looks more personal — similar to a text. And when it's opened, the user goes straight into the app and sees the offer immediately. That makes it easier to say yes.

06 Average order value goes up

So — if mobile apps improve the user experience, increase conversion rates, and strengthen loyalty, you can expect another practical benefit that immediately impacts the bottom line: increased average order value (AOV).

Ecommerce mobile apps deliver higher AOV than mobile websites or desktop visits. Mobile shoppers spend more time in apps and click on more products, so it makes sense that if they see more, they’ll buy more.

According to Criteo, mobile eCommerce app AOV is about 2 dollars higher than desktop and as much as 10-times higher than mobile sites.

Average order value per channel

Let’s say that after launching a mobile shopping app, you increased AOV by $10. That’s massive. If you had an average of 1,000 mobile transactions each month, increasing AOV by $10 would translate into an additional $10,000 — or another $120k annually.

And that's before you calculate the impact of the increased transaction volume you’d expect to see from a mobile app. So, in reality, the number could go higher.

Want to know what the ROI potential is for your business with a mobile eCommerce app? Check out this app ROI calculator and see what it could be doing for your targets.

07 Shopping cart abandonment goes down

Shopping cart abandonment is one of the most frustrating issues in online shopping and probably the most frequently tracked and ruthlessly analyzed of all the eCommerce KPIs.

Often the customer is just one or two clicks away from converting when they inexplicably abandon the purchase. Uncovering why can require a lot of effort.

Often it’s down to last-minute surprises that end up killing the sale. These can include finding out about extra shipping costs and taxes, being forced to create a user account, a lengthy checkout process, and performance issues like glitchy payment processing or error messages.

The common thread running through all those issues is poor UX. That’s where mobile apps come in.

Ecommerce mobile apps take the friction out of the checkout process. Once a customer buys something, their details and preferences are saved in the app’s settings and associated with their user profile.

So next time they want to make a purchase, there’s no need to type in names, addresses and credit card numbers. Everything’s done and dusted in just a few clicks.

Mobile apps make it easier to accept the latest, even touchless payment methods like those offered by PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. If you integrate any of these into an eCommerce mobile app, users can complete a purchase just by scanning their fingerprint.

The truth is, each additional step in the mobile checkout process is another chance for customers to change their minds. Reducing the number of steps from product selection to final purchase is sure to bring cart abandonment rates down.

Cart abandonment per channel

08 Customer retention rates go up

Generating more sales is always good news, but are you doing it as efficiently as you can? What about cost-of-sales? With eCommerce maturing rapidly, you should also be looking at ways to make mobile channels deliver more transactions with less marketing spend.

It’s easier to keep an old customer than to win a new one, and that old saw still holds true. Studies show that pulling in a new customer can cost as much as 25 times more than converting a current one.

If you raise customer retention by just 5 percent, the impact on profits ranges from 25 per cent to more than 90 percent.

Close to 40 percent of shoppers come back to an eCommerce mobile app 11 times or more after downloading. There’s a good chance that they’ll be making purchases when they do — a 50 percent chance, in fact. Those are pretty decent odds.

And if repeat visits fall below a certain threshold for any specific user, you can use push notifications to automatically pull them back in. Exclusive deals and flash sales are both proven tactics for promoting return visits and increasing sales volume.

Mobile and desktop websites just can’t give you those options for engagement.

In fact, with mobile eCommerce apps, users return twice as fast as mobile site users.

Return percentage mobile app

09 You can provide better service

Receiving better service almost always results in customers spending more money. Nearly three-quarters of retail shoppers say great service encourages them to spend more and shop for longer.

What's true in a physical store is also true in an app. So you need to think about how you can bake-in better customer service when you’re developing an app, even at the initial design stage.

For example, ask if you’re making it easy enough for customers to get in touch with you. Do they need to visit your website, or could you add a "call us" button directly in the app? Why not go the extra mile and add a live chat option so mobile customers can get answers to questions quickly?

Another option is to let customers track their orders in the app from purchase to final delivery. Mobile websites let you do that, but apps make it a matter of taps and swipes. A mobile site will need to run a few applets to deliver the same info, that will take time — probably requiring a few extra steps and pages to provide the same information an app can display with one tap.

You might also look at features that make it easy for buyers to add to their shopping carts, like a barcode scanner, ‘order now’ capability, in-store pick-up, contactless in-store payments, or the use of AI add-ons that help shoppers find the exact fits and colours they want. That's a great way to reduce returns.

10 It creates a personalized shopping experience

Another advantage mobile has over mobile websites is personalization. Because mobile apps can let users set up their preferences at the start, you can use them to tailor how you communicate with customers based on their past purchases, interests, demographics, and so on.

Apps can also track user actions, allowing you to set triggers for sending custom recommendations and user-specific updates. They can also use location data as a prompt to send geography-driven content.

Segmenting with mobile-specific characteristics is vital. If a customer opts-in to receive emails, you can go beyond demographics and segment them into categories based on factors like how frequently they use the shopping app, when their last visit was, if there are specific days when they are more likely to make a mobile purchase, and so on. Then you can send them targeted push messages and emails personalized to their needs and behaviors.

That takes personalization to the next level. Most eCommerce websites will offer content and offers based on simple demographics like gender, country, and possibly age-range. With an eCommerce app, you’ll have a ringside seat for observing mobile browsing and purchase behavior, which you can use to create customized offers.

With some effort, a mobile website ‘might’ be able to deliver that too, but only when the customer has logged in to their user profile. With an app, they're always logged in.

Personalization in eCommerce works wonders, with more than 60 percent of online shoppers saying they want a personalized experience when they’re buying things online. That’s up from 57 percent just two years ago.

Apps also allow customers to browse their previous orders and quickly repurchase the same thing when running out — great for food, drink, and cosmetics brands. Tracking purchases can also be used as the basis for reward programs.

11 You’ll strengthen competitive advantage

Today’s online shoppers would rather buy with a mobile app, and they're quickly leaving mobile websites behind. If you’re seeing mobile sales now through your website, that’s excellent, but you have to start preparing for the day when it stops delivering. If the studies are accurate, that day is coming soon.

Creating an eCommerce mobile app can still give you an advantage over competitors.
A lot of eCommerce stores are still relying on their websites for mobile revenues. If you have an eCommerce mobile app and that other store doesn't, shoppers will lean in your direction.

If your biggest competitors don’t have a mobile app, you might not feel pressure to build your own. To be brutally honest, doing that risks letting others get ahead. You may be competing with stores that aren’t even on your radar.

Mobile marketplaces are booming, and there isn’t much you can’t buy from sites like Amazon and eBay. In the US alone, 95 million people have an Amazon Prime membership. And Amazon's eCommerce mobile app is pretty amazing.

That makes them one of mobile eCommerce's standard-bearers, meaning whenever someone visits your site, they’ll have the “Amazon experience” in mind. If your online offering doesn’t stack up, there’s less of a compelling reason for the customer to buy from you.

The only way to keep pace with big mobile eCommerce brands is to have an app of your own. In the coming years, anyone selling anything online is going to have a mobile eCommerce app. Why not stay at the head of the pack and launch your own now?

ecommerce app nike

12 You’ll have more design flexibility

Finally, apps score big on the aesthetics front. They look better than most mobile websites, and they’re easier to navigate. That’s because even with all the technological improvements we’ve seen in web development and interface design, mobile websites are reined in by the limited capabilities of mobile web browsers, even to execute the simplest user actions.

To make a purchase or find your way around a mobile website, you’ll need to use browser features like the back and refresh buttons. You may need to copy/paste info from an address bar or page of the site. That makes the experience clunky. Mobile Apps don’t have those problems.

Because the interface is gesture-based, a mobile app gives you the flexibility to design around those issues and create more elaborate functionality. Users can swipe, tap, pinch, drag, and otherwise manipulate content using natural movements. That can help users perform a task more easily. For example, swiping from one screen or step in the purchase process to the next.

ecommerce app

13 Great apps don’t have to cost a fortune

Building an eCommerce mobile app can be expensive. If you want the latest and greatest tech or need a lot of additional functionality, then creating a bespoke app from scratch might be your best bet, despite the cost and time involved. But it’s not the only option.

SaaS app building platforms offer most of what you get with a bespoke build, but using customizable building blocks and feature sets to speed things up and keep costs down. They blend the benefits of build-it-yourself with expert support to give you the technical and design options you need.

Here at JMango360, we've been delivering brilliant eCommerce mobile apps for more than a decade. B2C or B2B, we believe every business deserves a premium mobile app of their own. We were one of the first mobile app platforms to make app building accessible and open it up to all.

Whether it's a native app or a PWA, we can help. You’ll have it up and running in 30 days or less. We’ll help you market it too.

Get in touch for a free consultation.

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