How Mobile Apps are Changing the Retail Industry

Are you thinking about building a retail app for your business? You're not the only one - mobile apps are disrupting the retail industry in a big way.

We’re long past the point at which mobile apps are mere vanity projects for businesses wanting to look good in the digital space.  In 2015 and beyond, custom app development is making a tangible difference in how businesses and entire industries operate.

That’s especially true for retail businesses, who have seen a sharp increase in demand for mobile apps and a plethora of new opportunities to grow their business. Keep reading to find out how mobile apps are changing the retail industry.

1. Full-Circle Marketing and Sales

First, apps allow retailers to connect their marketing and sales efforts. In the past, these two business areas have suffered from a disconnect that, for many businesses, has resulted in significant loss of revenue and consistency.

Apps help solve that disconnect by acting as both marketing and sales vehicles, enabling retailers to communicate with potential customers both before and when they’re ready to buy. Push notifications let users know about ongoing sales, while product description pages enable users to read more about the product even as they stand in the store making the buying decision.

And that’s before we even talk about the various e-commerce possibilities of apps (also known as m-commerce, or mobile commerce), which has enabled even small businesses to grow their revenue by offering a mobile-tailored version of their storefront business.

2. A Social Experience

Mobile apps are also changing the retail industry by turning a formerly relatively solitary process into a social experience. Consumers increasingly rely on product reviews to make their purchasing decision; indeed, one study found that 88% of consumers trust online product reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation.

This statistic, which has become common knowledge among marketers, has led retailers to increase the emphasis on product reviews within their online presence. And as it turns out, apps are the perfect way to do just that.

That’s why national retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy now link product reviews directly under their product titles within the app and sometimes even with their in-app product search results. As online and in-store buying turns into a social experience, apps allow these and other retailers to highlight the social proof of their products.

3. Real-Time, Hyper-Local Marketing with Beacons

Finally, apps are also quickly becoming the retail industry’s most powerful marketing and sales tool through beacon capabilities. If you’re in the retail industry, you may have heard of this technology; in fact, it has found its initial foothold among retailers around the world.

First introduced by Apple in 2013, beacons had a difficult time catching on immediately but are quickly gaining ground and turning into powerful tools. Without going into too many technical details, here’s how it works: the retailer places a ‘beacon’ near its storefront, which communicates wirelessly with consumers who happen to walk past that storefront.

Beacons send these messages directly to the consumers’ apps, which use push notifications to send alerts about current sales or other personalized offers. National retailers like Macy’s are already taking advantage of beacons with their apps.

How important could this new technology be for your retail business? Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Chuck Martin called beacons “the missing piece in the whole mobile-shopping puzzle” by changing the entire shopping experience. In other words, they’re kind of a big deal. (Beacons aren’t limited to retail and business apps, either — we built an amazing Live Airshow app that uses beacon technology to deliver information about exhibits users pass as they walk around the event).

In short, mobile apps are quickly changing the way in which the retail industry works. An effective retail app that connects marketing and sales, encourages a social experience by showcasing product reviews, and uses beacon technology for hyperlocal targeting can significantly increase your revenue and customer base. To learn more about how AppIt Ventures’ app development company can help you build an effective app for your retail business, contact us!

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