People are spending more time on mobile, requesting, purchasing, and booking almost any commodity they want at the time they want it, from dogwalkers, to in-home massages. People’s expectations are becoming loftier for the immediacy, relevance, and experiences brands provide on mobile, and retail and commerce companies are scrambling to meet them there.
And there’s no end in sight: mobile commerce is projected to reach $149 billion in volume in the U.S. alone by 2019. What’s more, people purchase in and prefer apps over mobile web. Criteo found that, when compared to mobile web, people view four times the products on average in an app and convert to purchase at a rate 23% higher than mobile web.
We took a look at some of the best commerce apps that are creating uniquely native experiences for their customers, winning their share of mobile commerce, so you can too.
1. Onboard and On-Brand
Your onboarding experience is more than your sign-up. Make your app and brand feel unique by offering an onboarding experience that provides value for your customers even before they sign up.
A common onboarding experience consists of a native feeling carousel of benefits your app provides. Fab’s onboarding flow is a great example, letting users swipe through screens that both explain the value of the app and Fab’s brand pillars.
You can also use your onboarding to incentivize first time app users, like a discount for their first purchase. Wish actually gives users a free gift for installing the app as part of their onboarding experience, that rewards the user and builds brand affinity, as a result.
Make sure your onboarding doesn’t get in the way of your landing experiences when you deep link users there, however.
2. Now It’s Getting Personal
You fought hard for that app install — and likely even paid a high price for it. Now you have to make sure you’re creating a loyal customer from that install. The quickest way to do this is by creating a sign-up flow on first app open.
This allows you to personalize recommendations for your users, save their payment credentials for repeat purchases, or even allow them to customize their shopping experience. Asos, for example, allows users to save items while browsing, creating a wishlist easily accessible from a made-for-native navigation bar at the bottom of the app.
You’re probably thinking this is adding another barrier before purchase; however, if you create a sign-up flow that’s made for mobile, this is hardly a barrier at all. Facebook Login dominates preferred mobile login providers with 77% of market share, providing a smooth sign up process, without the need to enter or remember yet another username and password.
Offer your users the option to sign up with email, Facebook, and other providers to both give them choice (a good UX), but also options for flows they’re already authenticated on like Facebook (ease of sign-up). No need to worry about clumsy thumbs.
You can also offer a much less prominent option to skip sign-up, like Wanelo does, below — in case a user just wants to quickly see what products you sell — with an upsell for more value when you sign-up later in the app.
3. Think Word-of-Mobile
You probably well know that referrals and word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful channels for acquiring new customers. In fact, a study by McKinsey Institute found that word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.
Like any other marketing channel, however, you must make sure your message and medium are both optimized for the end user.Make sure your referrals that occur on mobile from your app are made for mobile.
This means that when your app users the option to invite or refer friends, you use native sharing functionality. For iOS, for example you can use Facebook and Twitter with the native share sheet, letting your users share your message or content directly to those apps on their phone. Similarly, you should offer an SMS option so people can easily text friends while on mobile to try your app.
Touch of Modern does this well, offering all the native sharing options a user would expect, making it easy to refer and invite friends.
4. Push, But Don’t Be Pushy
With an app you also have a unique channel to re-engage your customers with push notifications. AgilOne found that nearly 60% of U.S. consumers expect an alert when a product they like is on sale.
Push notifications offer you a unique, free channel on mobile to re-engage your customers; however, like email, every brand is using this channel and you need to distinguish your app from the rest of the noise.
To ensure you are able to get the full reach of this channel, though, make sure you add context as to why you’re asking for push permissions. Without this, the user is inclined to opt out; in fact, while 86% of Android users opt-in to push, only 51% of iOS users do. Target’s Cartwheel app is a great example of educating your customers before asking for device permissions:
Then you’re on your way to sending personalized updates and sales to your users, bringing them back into your app to purchase.
5. Don’t Set It and Forget It
Building and launching your app is just the beginning: make sure you have an end-to-end strategy to promote it both to your existing customers and new ones as they discover your brand. There are a few channels you can start using that are made for mobile here, too.
First, you want to make sure your customers have the option to download your app, or open it if it’s already installed, when browsing your mobile website. With Apple’s Smart App Banners you can easily surface this option for people that land on your site on mobile.
Once set up, people will be given the option to view your app in the App Store, or open it, if it’s already installed. JackThreads uses this to ensure their customers are given the option to shop in app, when landing on their site:
While Android doesn’t offer an out-of-the-box solution, there are a few third-party solutions you can use to offer similar functionality.
You can find new customers with advertising solutions that are made for mobile — for example, Facebook, Twitter and Google all offer specific advertising placements designed to drive app installs, and ways to measure your installs and optimize your campaigns with their Software Development Kits.
Button also offers a way to acquire new app customers with actions specific to your products and inventory, embedded in the context of other apps. For example, Ticketmaster offers a Button to embed its tickets, dates, venues, and times into a network of apps that feature content about artists and concerts. You can also get transaction-level measurement to understand true ROI for your app and Button performance.