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Consumer e-commerce applications offer a huge amount of consumer data, and taking advantage of this information can be a commercial boost for any company. But achieving this can be predicated upon producing an application that appeals to consumers in the first place.

CRAFTING SUPERIOR APPS

It has been demonstrated by research that many customers often find retail apps to be unwieldy. It is therefore important for retailers to provide an application that offers a decent optimised web experience. Even in an age where mobile commerce and Internet access is incredibly common, it is surprisingly how many businesses do not have a specialised experience available for mobile access of their websites. This will only encourage consumers to take their business elsewhere.

However, if time is taken to provide a slicker mobile experience, buttressed by a superbly functional mobile app, then the experience of customers will be greatly enhanced. This will only pay off for businesses commercially, and considering the growing importance of mobile this should be considered essential by all businesses of all sizes.

Mobile apps offer many benefits to retailers. The most obvious might be conducting commercial activity via mobile platforms, but this is certainly not the only advantage of the technology. It is often regular users of mobile applications who turn out to be the most loyal brand advocates of retailers. The convenience of mobile, and the fact that many uses associated with desktop computers are not possible on mobile, ensures collectively that many mobile users spend a lot of time on retail sites while using their devices.

Apps can also be an effective way for companies to operate a loyalty card or similar scheme. This store card concept has been popular in big business and retail for some time, but it is becoming increasingly feasible for small businesses as well. In an ever competitive digital marketplace, it is essential for businesses to take steps in order to stand out from the crowd. Using loyalty cards is one of the best ways to incentivise people to visit a particular website, and mobile can play a central part in this process.

BEACONS AND ADVERTISING

Mobile apps are also being increasingly utilised in advertising. This can operate on many different levels, but one intriguing technology that is set to become more prominent in the coming years is that of beacons. The most notable example of beacon technology is provided, inevitably, by Apple. The consumer electronics giant hopes that its iBeacons technology can dominate this potentially fertile market niche, as mobile commerce becomes more sophisticated in the remainder of this decade.

Beacon technology such as Apple’s iBeacon enables companies to direct notification to users when they approach or enter a retail store. This enables unique and personalised special offers and discounts to be delivered via mobile apps. Additionally, such information as in-store maps and entries can also be delivered, with the potential of such functionality as the integration of shopping lists and wishlists.

This data can be utilised by retailers in order to properly measure and attract consumers to viable products. There are clear commercial benefits for companies, but it also hoped in time that consumers will also beginning to reap rewards from beacon technology. There is the intention to utilise beacons in order to deliver a superior retail experience, and achieve that holy grail of all retail…providing the customer with something of extra value.

CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR

Aside from the basics, a new study published by Poq Studio has revealed some interesting findings regarding customer behaviour on apps. Poq Studio has produced a leading retail app that has been selected by such iconic retailers as House of Fraser and Radley. The organisation recently carried out a survey of retailers, and the findings for companies hoping to improve their mobile sales are extremely valuable, owing to the fact that the business is at the very centre of the industry.

In order to draw these conclusions, Poq Studio analysed data from over 200,000 app sessions across over 47,000 users.

Firstly, it is fascinating to note that under 20 percent of the UK's top 50 retailers offered a mobile shopping app at the time that the report was compiled. This seems like a rather paltry percentage considering the increasing popularity of mobile shopping. What it does show is that even major retailers continue to expect consumers to browse websites with a mobile without the benefit of a specific mobile optimised user experience. This seems a bit lackadaisical, and it is already clear from these figures that businesses striving to create a truly idealised mobile experience will benefit significantly.

Yet despite the rather casual attitude of Britain's top retailers, it is already acknowledged that mobile is a significant platform. Some of the retailers surveyed by Poq Studio indicated that 10 percent of their online revenue is already generated by mobile apps.

Also notable from the survey was the fact that retail applications receive the largest amount of traffic on Sundays. But there is a suggestion from the report that a lot of this traffic is utilised for browsing purposes, as conversion rates were also lowest at this time. Consumers were also found to use the wishlist function most on this particular day, which suggests that Sundays are frequently utilised for mobile window shopping.

CONVERSION TIMES

The report also found that users of the Apple iOS platform convert most frequently on Fridays, with the competing Android operating system users converting most often on Saturdays. Early and late in the week were certainly considered to be the ideal conversion times on both popular operating systems, although the anomaly with Sunday was an exception to this rule. Thus, it would be advisable to run promotions for items at these times of the week.

Unsurprisingly, most mobile app transactions are made after 7pm. Although there is significant traffic spikes during lunch hours, most monetary conversions occur between 8 and 10pm. Lunchtimes are clearly used for research purposes, while evenings provide the ideal opportunity for retailers to send out push notifications.

The findings illustrate how mobile app shopping and physical store visits can complement one another. Poq Studio has creative recommendations for retailers based on their findings, and it is certainly worth while taking the time to download the full report in order to access this information.

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