In periods of rapid and accelerated development, there are often pioneering innovations that at first release fall short of expectations. Even the most innovative companies in the world like Apple have had their share of missteps before reaching their ultimate goal. Despite the failure of the “Newton”, the company’s first attempt at a PDA type device, Apple went on to completely dominate the tablet and smartphone markets with the iPhone, and later, the iPad.
Many retailers are facing a similar challenge surrounding their current mobile commerce App solution. As smartphones rapidly took over the market, retailers and brands scrambled to find a way to drive revenue on these devices. Some succeeded from the start, like Shazam, by aligning its model with one way consumers were already using smartphones (buying and listening to music).
However, many mobile commerce Apps fell short of their early high expectations. Retailers and brands were not getting the results they expected out of their App solutions, and at this point, the poor little App was judged by its (in)ability to drive revenue and sell product. Unfair!
Thinking back to the story of Newton, however, it’s too soon to call it quits on these first iterations of the mobile commerce App. The App is a single part of an entire mobile commerce ecosystem, with unique strengths abilities. Providing an improved App solution with component parts that play to these strengths will help retailers and brands get the results they expected from the start.
Inspired by the iPad app solution we launched yesterday, here are four tips for brands and retailers to keep in mind when creating a own new and improved App:
1) Make your app a concept store. Design your app as a place that displays your brand with a sense of fun and play. The experience of the app should be dynamic, high-energy, and showcase products that are targeted to your most loyal and frequently purchasing customers. This is all about showing your vision and keeping your customers excited about your company’s next great idea.
2) Keep screen real estate value high. When considering their next app download, consumers are thinking about where it will fit on their screen, and how important it will be to them. They ask themselves, “if I already have 200 apps on my phone, do I really need another with a 2.5 star rating?” The app should be compelling enough not only to capture, but also to retain prime screen real estate. Keep your content fresh and compelling, or it will be moved to the low rent district on device screens – or even worse, deleted.
3) Understand the app’s role in the ecommerce ecosystem. Don’t lean too hard on your app – know what it can reasonably contribute to your overall marketing efforts, and how other elements of your marketing strategy can work with it hand in hand. To make the app effective, it must support a specific and focused result, and then marketing activity and campaigns must promote it, incent people to put it on their devices, and in some cases drive purchase or action (i.e. drive people to the physical store).
4) Provide for the intersection of engagement and impulse. Finally, if ecommerce is a goal, the app MUST be able to link back to the browser to allow for seamless and immediate impulse transactions or ordering behavior. Offline-only apps or clunky interfaces will never convert to meaningful bottom line results.
The all too common “strategy” of tablet/smartphone + app = revenue is the unfair and unfortunate barometer that has been used to judge the performance of the App to date. Tablets, smartphones, PCs, websites, social, and apps need to be optimized as a system that leverages their own unique capabilities, to drive engagement and revenue in this rapidly evolving space. Although many first generation Apps may have fallen short, it’s not too late. Now, get out there and upgrade your App!