You’ve probably seen that Digital Agencies tend to bang on quite a bit about mobile phones and their role in the eCommerce sector, and for good reason. Mobiles make up a massive chunk of the market.
So how do people shop on mobiles? They often browse reactively - from an advert they have seen whilst on the go, or when they are sat on the bus and suddenly realise they didn’t buy their wife a birthday card (whatever, I’m over it).
Some of these mobile purchases are done through apps - especially from well established online marketplaces such as Very, eBay and Amazon. The idea is theoretically sound - an app on your mobile screen to enable customers to buy straight from your store, with no need to search or type urls into a browser. However, it may not be for everyone.
Apps really took off in 2008, when the Apple Store opened up, and people have been churning them out ever since. You name it, there is quite literally an ‘app for that’, heck, you can even buy diamonds through an app now. Recently though, the app has been on the decline, with the average mobile owner in the USA downloading 0 apps per month according to ComScore’s study on app use. The profit from app production has reduced by 20% in the last year; the market is just too saturated.
That does not mean to say there isn’t money being made via apps anymore. Uber and Snapchat had their users increase by over 100% last year, and Facebook still has over 1.5 billion users. But these are established names in the app world, and the fresh new idea is becoming increasingly harder to find, as it’s usually already been done.
So creating a new app to provide a specific service is probably not on the top of the priority list right now, but what in-app purchases?
Regardless of the decline in new apps, according to smartinsights.com, 90% of our mobile time is spent on an app, but this doesn’t necessarily mean we are buying through them. Their research also shows only 26% of online purchases are through an app, with the top three sectors of these purchases being finance, electronics, and beauty. There are many reasons people don’t buy from apps. Business Insider UK say that people are put off from buying on apps, usually because they prefer the actual website anyway.
It’s not all doom and gloom for apps. Many people often frequent their favourite brand’s apps for purchases. It again, comes down to the reward you’ll get for the effort required. If you’re familiar with roadmapping, you’ll have heard of the effort:impact scale before, and it needs to be applied to the app question.
For new project ventures, the aim is to get as close to the top left box as possible. The least amount of effort for the most impact on your business is the first thing to start with, and develop from there, so the question is, where does the app fit in this grid?
If you’re in fashion or you’re a well known brand, an app will probably generate a lot of impact, but that doesn’t factor in the effort required, and it probably won’t generate a lot of impact at all for SMEs who sell construction tools. There are a few things to consider when deciding if an app is the right step for your business:
Will people find my app?
Will people searching for your products look for you in an app store? If they are on your site and get notified of an app, are they the type of people who will download it to use in future? If they see it on the site, thy’ve probably already committed to purchasing at that point, so is it really needed?
Do you get repeat custom?
An app is very handy for companies with repeat customers or a brand-loyal customer base. If you sell products people will buy again and again, you’re more likely to benefit from an app compared to a company with a lot of single-purchase customers.
How will people search my products?
If your customers visit your site through searches, or come across your site via lead generation, and not specifically searching for your business, you may create more of an impact on your business by making sure your site is accessible across all devices, and is clear and simple to navigate.
An app is definitely beneficial to some businesses, and it can generate a lot of repeat custom if it’s something people will use regularly. But the reality is, for many companies, having a mobile site that is not just visually stunning, but easy to use on the go as well, is a smaller effort for a larger impact.