In the mid-1990s, retailers were wondering if they needed a website to stay in business. After a bit of apprehension, almost all businesses were forced to jump on the e-commerce bandwagon and build a website to stay relevant.
In recent months, online retailers have been wondering if they really needed a mobile app. Four years ago, mobile surpassed desktop traffic and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, mobile users spend as much as 69% of their media time on smartphones.
According to Invesp, approximately 1.6 billion people around the planet shop on their mobile devices. Another 95% of mobile users also use their smartphones to contact businesses in the vicinity.
At present, mobile devices account for 19% of all online sales in the US and this trend is expected to grow to reach 27% by the of 2018 (representing 1 in 4 e-commerce dollars).
All of this data suggests that we’re on the cusp of entering a new era where online retail is dominated by mobile devices.
How Can a Mobile App Help My Business?
If you don’t have an established and optimized mobile presence, you’re going to fall by the wayside. If you choose not to have one, you’re basically choosing to ignore current trends that dominate the marketplace.
By building a mobile app for your online retail store, you will be tapping into its enormous growth potential. You also get a chance to build loyalty and brand value by delivering enhanced mobile user experiences (UX). This platform will also provide you with more control over the experience than you would have on a desktop.
Mobile apps also come with the added benefit of personalization like push notifications that can point users to specific sales or products based on past purchases (without depending on advertising to get the message across). But this doesn’t mean that you should give up on your website, that’s also important, but make sure that it’s optimized for mobile (even if you have an app).
mCommerce Leads to Higher Conversion Rates
Smartphone users generally prefer to use mobile apps than browsers because it’s highly user-friendly and provides an enhanced UX. According to a recent research, this has led to more mobile shoppers completing their transactions when compared mobile websites and desktops.
This translates into as much as 71% of mobile sales in the U.S. taking place within an app. At the same time, it’s also important to note that tablet usage is on the decline.
When Do You Need a Mobile App?
All of the above suggests that you should start developing a mobile app immediately. However, this isn’t exactly true. In fact, before rushing into developing a mobile app for your e-commerce store, first look into where your traffic is originating from.
If most of your store’s web traffic is coming from a mobile device, then it’s time to start building an app. But you also need to have the necessary resources to build a robust mobile app that can provide enhanced mobile shopping experiences.
The cost of building a mobile app will depend on different variables. For example, you’ll have to figure out if you want to build a native Android or iOS app, a cross-platform app, or a progressive web app.
You also have to decide where you’re going to build the app. For example, building a native mobile app in North America can easily cost $200,000 or more. If you outsource it to countries in Eastern Europe (where there a significant pool of tech talent), you can expect to pay somewhere around $54,000 (along with some overhead costs).
If you don’t have the resources, the next best option is to go with a progressive web app as it’s significantly faster and cheaper to build. However, you will have to compromise on your overall UX and some functionality.
If you choose to use functions like the phone’s camera, GPS, microphone, one-click ordering, and easy mobile payments, it will all add to your final cost.
As a result, business leaders should do their homework and carefully plan before committing to developing a mobile app for e-commerce. This is important as it will go a long way to help you keep your customers engaged.