Online merchants with successful e-commerce stores have realized the importance of mobile, with this channel driving about 20% of their sales. They often face a dilemma of whether to go mobile with an app or with a site – or with both. Given that all shopping sites are at least accessible with mobile devices, the more pertinent question is whether having a mobile app makes sense for you type of store.
Here are six considerations for whether a mobile app is likely to drive sales for your Yahoo Store.
1, Repeat Purchases: Does your business depend on users frequently purchasing? If you sell groceries, pet supplies, baby diapers, or OTC drugs, the answers is probably “yes”. But if you sell cars, laptops, couches, or wedding dresses, an app may not be the right fit.
As a merchant, you need to really think about how frequently your customers purchase from your store (or how frequently you WANT them to purchase from your store). The higher the frequency, the stronger the case for creating a mobile app. By downloading a mobile app, customers are making a strong commitment to regularly buy goods from your store. If they are interested in just a one-off purchase then they won’t invest the time to download an app.
2. Special Offers and Loyalty Programs: Does your business run a lot of promotional offers and loyalty discounts? If yes, then there is a strong case for building a mobile app. While the relationship between a mobile site and a customer is relatively temporary, the relationship between a mobile app and a customer is typically more long lasting, where the app continuously engages the customer.
If your business depends on running seasonal offers, issuing discount codes, informing them of new or restocked items, or of products to supplement recent purchases, then push notifications are a great way to communicate with your customers. This is obviously not possible with a mobile site, but with a mobile app you have the luxury of having the customers’ attention (unless you start spamming them with notifications and drive them to uninstall your app).
3. Speed: Speed is one of the most important variables for retaining a customer on your mobile site. Every second of delay on mobile leads to a 7% loss in conversions. Mobile apps are even faster than mobile-optimized sites, partly because much of the content is already available offline and because they are independent of the browser capabilities of the mobile device.
Additionally, mobile apps are able to store credit card information and shipping details so that they can offer a 1-touch checkout to their customers.
So whether your customers are going to visit your app and quickly reload last week’s grocery shopping list before checking out, or they view hundreds of shoes before they pick one, speed is important. It is for you to decide how important it is, and whether your business needs the added speed of an app, or whether the speed of a mobile-optimized site is fast enough.
4. Location, Camera, etc.: Does your store need to utilize the native capabilities of a mobile device? Does it need the customer to scan a barcode, or provide her location, or use the accelerometer? There are about 25 native capabilities in a mobile device (not all are relevant to mobile commerce), so if exploiting some of them adds to the shopping experience, then a mobile app is your best bet.
5. Referrals: Do customer love your brand and do most of them become advocates? If so, congratulations! This is a coveted achievement, and it also makes a strong case for having a mobile app.
If you have a mobile app that allows an easy (and hopefully incentivized) referral system, then it would be a seamless journey from your customer’s mobile app to her friend’s Facebook newsfeed and then to that friend installing the app on their own phone. Such a seamless journey is not possible on a desktop.
6. Frequent Changes to Catalog: Do you have a catalog that is frequently updated? If so, it makes more sense for the user to install your mobile app and be able to immediately view new inventory.
With these considerations in mind, you should be able to decide whether your business would be best served by a mobile app or a mobile site. Good luck going mobile!
About the author:
Satya Ganni, CEO and founder of MartMobi, is an authority in mobile commerce and has written extensively in this domain. MartMobi is an app on Yahoo Commerce Central that helps Yahoo store merchants go mobile in just a few hours, through both mobile sites and native apps.