Did you know your mobile app customers are also often your most valuable? Alibaba demonstrated this when they revealed they make more money from their mobile customers (all 427 million of them!) than from their non-mobile customers. eBay did the same when they announced that $9.5 billion of their sales in Q2 of 2016 (or 45% of their GMV) came from mobile. Even more impressive, 57% of all of eBay’s Q2 sales were touched by mobile at some point.

Mobile customers have a big impact on retail, and Alibaba and eBay are just two examples. With so much opportunity to generate more revenue through mobile, particularly during the upcoming holiday shopping season, the importance of understanding customers’ mobile behavior is clear.

To understand how retailers can prepare for the holiday shopping season, Apptentive conducted a consumer survey to find out how consumers plan to use mobile apps to fulfill or aid their shopping needs (results were gathered online from 252 consumers ages 18-65 in the US who use iPhone and Androids daily). You can read the full results here, but in today’s post, we’ll cover the highlights around what we learned, along with sharing actionable advice that you can implement directly into your mobile strategy to set yourself up for success during the busiest shopping season of the year.

Here’s what we found:

 

Consumers Use Retail Mobile Apps to Buy—Not Just Browse

Our survey revealed that 88% of consumers use retail mobile apps, and 55% use them while shopping in-store. While consumers still use apps to enhance their in-store experience, that’s not all they’re using them for. People are actually using retail apps to shop.

Our survey also found 65% of people that use retail mobile apps plan on using them for at least some of their holiday shopping, and 10% of consumers plan on using retail apps for almost all of their holiday shopping. This includes consumers who plan on making purchases in the app, and using apps to aid their in-store shopping needs. Retail sales on smartphones grew by 54% between 2014 and 2015. 54% of respondents that use retail mobile apps have made a purchase in a retail app in the last month.

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Now that consumers are using mobile apps to actually make purchases, not just supplement their in-store shopping experiences, retailers should seriously consider investing in creating standalone mobile customer experiences. With the upcoming holiday season upon us, retailers can beef up their mobile strategies to support consumer expectations.

Five Ways Retailers Can Improve their Mobile Customer Experience

The need for a seamless mobile customer experience can’t be put off any longer if you want to make headway in the retail industry. So what can retailers do to improve their mobile customer experience?

Here are five key pieces of advice:

1. Ask for customer feedback. Incorporating customer feedback into your mobile strategy gives you the ability to learn about customer behavior in explicit ways and the ability to quickly iterate and test new products and features.

Asking customers for feedback increases your ability to problem solve without guessing. Are customers abandoning their shopping cart? Don’t waste time trying to deduce all of the different possibilities as to why this is an issue. Ask customers in the app as soon as they abandon their cart. This will save you time, and enable you to implement a solution quickly—reducing the amount of revenue lost. This is especially crucial during the holiday season, when the rate of revenue loss by an issue is magnified. Catching problematic trends early is always critical critical, but absolutely essential during the holidays.

If given an opportunity, mobile customers want to provide feedback (from a joint survey we conducted with SurveyMonkey, we found 98% of consumers are likely to leave feedback when asked directly in-app), and even expect companies to ask them for it directly in-app (64% of consumers said they expect companies to ask). Take advantage of this by asking for customer feedback in your app more often, and use it to solve problems quickly to increase customer satisfaction.

Asking for mobile customers’ feedback also empowers you to test and iterate on new products and features quickly. One of our customers used customer feedback to substitute focus groups when they were developing a new app feature. They were able to hear from over 600 customers within a few days of launching an in-app survey, which allowed them to launch the feature globally a quarter ahead of schedule. This is the power of mobile customer feedback.

2. Seamlessly integrate loyalty programs into mobile apps. Nordstrom is a great example of a company who has incorporated their loyalty program into their mobile app. When their customers make a purchase in the Nordstrom app, it automatically adds points to their loyalty account. Customers aren’t limited to the app to redeem their loyalty rewards either; points are reflected in all channels (in-store, online, mobile web, and in-app).

Building rewards into your app adds extra incentive for customers to make purchases in the app, and decreases the likelihood your customers will favor shopping with a competitor. Allowing customers to earn reward or loyalty points by using your mobile app (something they’re already doing) not only improves their customer experience, it increases loyalty.

3. Connect online and offline experiences. The importance of a positive mobile customer experience extends beyond purchases in the app. 55% of people who use retail mobile apps have used them to browse selection, then purchase in-store at least once in the last month (we call this “approoming”). Not only does the mobile app experience need to be a standalone experience, it should also connect seamlessly with consumers’ physical experiences.

 

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Integrated customer experiences are coveted by consumers because it makes their lives more convenient. Regardless of what approach you take to integrating your app with your store, the goal should be to enrich your customer experience.

4. Easy payment and checkout process. The ability to easily pay for purchases in a mobile app is in high demand. If the payment process is cumbersome, customers are more likely to abandon their shopping cart. Retailers that make buying easy, such as Amazon, reap the (monetary) rewards. Amazon has created an easy checkout process that only requires customers to hit one button to complete their purchase.

The demand for in-app payment capabilities is best proven by Starbucks. Their customers load money onto a digital gift card in the Starbucks app, and scan their phone at the counter to pay. Their payment method has been outrageously successful; Starbucks has more customer money in their mobile app than many banks have in deposits. That is, $1.2 billion— double what they had in 2014! 41% of their U.S. and Canadian customers now pay for their coffees via the Starbucks app.

5. Measure and track customer sentiment. Do you know how your customers feel about your brand? All companies want their customers to love them, but how do you know if you’ve earned that accolade without measuring customer love? It’s difficult to understand how your customers receive your brand, and how much they enjoy your customer experience, without consistently tracking customer sentiment.

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Supplemental to customer feedback, measuring customer sentiment will help teams across your organization learn and make business decisions. Your product, quality assurance, engineering, market research, and marketing teams all stand to gain insights from customer sentiment tracking.

Mobile software solutions can help you unlock customer insights, and measure customer love. Ask consumers “Do you love our app?” or “Do you love our company?” directly in-app, without interrupting their mobile experience to gain a baseline measurement. The most effective way to grow the number of customers who love your brand is to understand where you currently stand, and to measure customer love over time. This enables you to see how decisions impact sentiment, and pinpoint what moves you forward (and backward).

 

In Conclusion

Retail apps that improve their mobile customer experience by following the five key pieces of above see more success than their competitors who lack these mobile CX innovations—throughout the holidays and beyond.

In addition to increasing revenue, positive mobile customer experiences increase customer loyalty, lifetime value, and satisfaction. When you invest in the mobile customer experience, consumers notice. This means they also notice when you haven’t invested. When consumers use your mobile app, they become more invested in your brand, are more likely to spend more money, and become a loyal customer.

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