Jun 6, 2017
A simple mobile-app-only sales campaign can easily boost app downloads for a retailer. The challenge for retailers, however, comes in convincing users to keep using their mobile apps after that initial sale has been claimed.
Mobile retail apps need to provide ongoing value to keep users engaged in the long run. That’s why user engagement should be one of the primary concerns of mobile app developers in the retail space.
In this blog post, we look at how three of the biggest names in retail create mobile app engagement to keep users coming back.
Unlike many traditional stores that seem stuck in their brick-and-mortar past, retail giant Walmart has achieved impressive growth from its mobile app. Regarding app downloads in the U.S., Walmart ranks on par with eBay, with only Amazon surpassing the two.
A large part of this growth comes from a single feature in Walmart’s mobile app called “Savings Catcher.” Using this in-app feature, customers can scan their Walmart receipts to automatically check competitor prices. If the Savings Catcher finds a lower price for an item in the user’s area, it returns the difference to the user’s Walmart account.
Naturally, price-conscious Walmart shoppers use the Savings Catcher feature with every transaction to ensure they get the best price available.
Understanding its customers well, Walmart has managed to turn one of their greatest concerns—low prices—into a mobile app habit that drives engagement. The Savings Catcher feature saves users the time and hassle of having to scour through multiple leaflets for the best weekly deals.
Using this mobile app feature with every purchase, Walmart customers can rest assured that they’re getting the best deal every time. It’s no wonder that Walmart saw its mobile app downloads skyrocket to over 10 million soon after launching this innovative feature.
The core concept behind Savings Catcher is providing customers a way to get the best value for their money. One way to apply this, for example, would be to allow users to use your mobile app to collect and store offers and coupons that most matter to them.
Any time you launch a new feature or functionality like this for your mobile app, you should use Feature Flags to do a staged roll out. Leveraging Feature Flags will allow you to test this new feature with a small, targeted group of customers, so you can collect feedback to improve and iterate before you are ready to launch to your entire userbase.
A veteran of e-commerce, eBay has used its established reputation to launch itself to the top tiers of mobile commerce, too. With over 300 million downloads of its apps worldwide, it’s not surprising that over half of the brand’s current sales include at least one mobile touch point.
One way eBay encourages engagement in its mobile app is through the “follow” feature for searches. When users conduct a search in-app for an item, the app suggests they follow the list of results to receive updates when new items arrive.
This tactic allows the app to create a strong engagement pattern even with users who don’t find what they’re looking for right away. The emails and notifications the app generates from the search pull users back into the app at frequent intervals without appearing annoying since they’re delivering a message that matters to each user individually.
You don’t need to build a fully-fledged “follow search” feature in your mobile app to drive engagement. A simpler—but equally effective—application would be to allow users to “follow” an item they’re interested in your store to receive updates and special offers on it when they become available.
Using a service like Campaign Monitor you can send customers email updates and offers on what matters most to them. You can easily create sign-up buttons for specific items, and then use targeted email campaigns to send users who opt in special offers and updates on their favorite items.
Target may be known primarily for its dominance in the discount brick-and-mortar shopping segment, but the retailer aims to deliver the same great experience whether customers are shopping online, on a mobile device, or in a store.
To that end, the Target app includes a list feature that allows customers to create shopping lists. But these aren’t simply pen-and-paper lists; they’re interactive lists that allow customers to find the best deals.
When users add a general item to their list such as “milk,” they can automatically look for a discount or promotion on a product in this category, through a seamless integration with Target’s cartwheel app, and add that particular item to their list.
The focal point of Target’s app, as in the other mobile apps we’ve seen in this post, is utility. Target gives customers the convenience of integrating a much used feature (shopping lists) with the automation of a time-consuming process (searching for deals and coupons) that’s highly likely to keep customers using the app and shopping at the store to reap the full benefits of the combination.
Depending on the specific retail sector you’re in, your mobile app may not get much traction from a shopping-list feature. But that’s not to say you can’t apply the same principle of helping users discover items that may interest them—especially if those are on special offer.
Showing users suggested products with each search gives you a great opportunity to A/B test the combinations that can increase your sales. The practice can also help you learn a lot about the preferences of your audience so you can keep refining what they see in your app and when.
Whether it’s through offering a way to check for the best prices, or the option to get alerts about new items, or the ability to create a shopping list with the best deals, all the mobile retails apps we’ve discussed in this blog drive user engagement through utility.
Leveraging established habits is one of the most effective ways to drive engagement and incentivize users to return to your mobile app.
Apptimize is the best-in-class mobile growth platform for Enterprise and SMBs, powering 1.2 billion app downloads across 75 countries.
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