November is here and we’re pumped up for the holiday season; it’s game time for app entrepreneurs and marketers. The holiday shopping season is the most critical time of the year for eCommerce, and will be even more critical this year. Last year’s Cyber Monday was a record success, with US consumers spending over 2.68 billion dollars in a single shopping day. Most notably,  41% of this sales traffic was through smartphone and tablet purchases. That major stat is expected to increase even more. A recent RetailNext report estimates that U.S. holiday sales will rise 2.8% in 2015 as compared to 2014. Furthermore, with the majority of digital media time (54%) being spent on smartphones and tablets, more people are also spending time on their mobile apps.

Given the rapid increase of mobile usage and increasingly high standards of mobile users, eCommerce and retail apps can benefit greatly by planning and optimizing thoroughly in advance. Thus, we have prepared a core list of tips for you to utilize in order to make sure your app is holiday ready.

 

1. Enhance your navigation and stress test your app

Streamlining navigation is a must-do for your mobile app. Make sure that people have no problem finding whatever they want within the first few seconds of opening your app. If users are getting confused at the navigation stage, they’ll probably never stay long enough to find the product they are looking for. Make sure that your app can withstand an influx of shoppers. You will dig your own grave if your app keeps on breaking down every time there’s an increase in mobile traffic.

Load time is also another critical element that influences the perceived suitability of your app to customers. Basically, if your app takes too long to load, you will most likely lose your user. You must make sure your navigation and gestures are smooth and functional, with no delays and/or freezing. Overall you need to conduct a lot of tests to make sure that everything is optimized and ready for increased business.

 

2. Personalization

Personalization helps marketers overcome big e-commerce. You want your app to be just as good if not better than that face-to-face salesman at the local brick and mortar store. You can accomplish this by providing your users with recommendations based on their location and previous purchases. You should also consider setting up personal email campaigns based on browsing behavior and items they have saved. By maintaining a record of these preferences, you can easily send your users personalized newsletters and push notifications. Personalization, when done right, is a great way to capture users’ interest and hopefully motivate them to complete a purchase.

 

3. Try to enhance your app rating

There are over 3 million apps in both the Apple and Android app stores. To sort through this massive collection, users need a differentiator that can help them find the proverbial “needle in the haystack”. Ratings are that key factor. They are an integral part of the ranking algorithm for app searches in both the App Store and the Play Store. For example, after Apple’s app store update in 2013, apps with an average rating under three stars have been ranked notably lower while apps with ratings of at least four stars have experienced a bump in ranking. Furthermore, according to an Apptentive report from this past May, 99% of the 100 top grossing apps on Google Play Store have at least 4 stars. These “tiny” stars can make a BIG difference, don’t discount them.

 

4. Buying process must be flawless

Due to the fact that users are entering in their personal information in order to complete a payment, as soon as they experience a hiccup in the process they will start to doubt the security of your app. Moreover, if users aren’t able to finalize an order whatsoever, they’ll easily do away with your app and download a competitor’s. Your app’s ultimate mission is to get a user to make a purchase- it would be a shame if all that effort is lost due to a minor flaw within the payment process. Along with troubleshooting payment errors, another good practice would be to include multiple payment options for users. This way users do not have to feel confined by one particular payment method.

 

5. Offer holiday promotions and/or loyalty programs

You would be leaving a lot of money on the table if you didn’t run holiday promotions or loyalty programs. Shoppers have gotten used to retailers going all out during the holiday season with offering a variety of discounts and special deals- thus they will expect the same from your mobile app. Try out different promotional approaches based on what works for your audience demographic(s) and make sure to track which are the most appealing/effective. For example if you have a notable amount of students who use your app, consider a promo code such as “STUDENTLOVE” that specific users can utilize for a nice discount. This can help increase affinity for your app and also make users more likely to recommend it to others.

 

6. Update your ad creative and design with holiday themes

This is a strategy that the most popular shopping apps, including Amazon, use all the time. Customizing your app with a holiday theme not only adds a unique visual aspect to your app, it can also increase users’ positive sentiments towards your brand. The more delighted users are with your special brand look, the higher the chances are that they will spend more or even become loyal customers.

 

7. Make sure your UX is on point

If your UX is broken, so is your mobile sales funnel. Especially when it comes to shopping, they need a top-notch experience. It is crucial that you go above and beyond to provide a pleasant shopping experience. Your app’s layout, main functions, and other basics should be completely intuitive even to first-time users. Good UX practices also counter the small screen disadvantage of a mobile. For the most effective UX optimization, UX analytics such as Appsee can play an important role. For example, Appsee’s user recordings can help you thoroughly assess the browsing and purchase experience of your users and pinpoint any distinct flaws within your UX.

 

8. Maintain momentum past December

Now that you have optimized your app to increase conversions, you can take it a step further by planning after the holiday. People are always looking for that surprise discount or deals after the holiday season. Use post-holiday offers and promotions to top up your holiday profits.

 

Conclusion

There is no doubt that more customers are becoming increasingly drawn to the convenience and allure of mobile shopping. This is your chance to exceed their expectations. While you can’t control every facet of a user’s purchasing motivation, it is still a good idea to act proactively. Set yourself up for success and zone in on how/what you can optimize. Ultimately, apps that strategize and prepare effectively in anticipation of this key shopping period should see increased success.

Good luck!

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