AppDynamics country manager Simon Horrocks talks retail apps.

There is an imminent need for retailers to implement their own omni-channel strategies in this new era of convenience, where consumers expect the ability to make purchases wherever and whenever they choose. However, the risks of any delays to impatient customers caused by these technologies should be top of mind for businesses wishing to succeed in 2018 and beyond.

Online shopping in Australia is still comparatively nascent when observing retail sales compared to other countries.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4.8 per cent of all Australian retail sales in December 2017 were online, compared to about 24 per cent in the UK.

The key for retailers will be merging together their online and offline services in a way that appears seamless. However, despite the word ‘omnichannel’ being used to describe this idea frequently, examples of this being implemented successfully on a large scale are rare. There has been some crossover in the form of click-and-collect services, which allow customers to pick up their online orders from physical stores. There are also efforts from companies such as online retailer Amazon, which recently opened its first physical store, there is still a huge opportunity for innovation within this space.

Recent research conducted by AppDynamics found that 64 per cent of respondents stated they would rather use mobile apps to make a payment rather than queuing up at a check out, and over half agreed that they would be encouraged to visit
physical stores if they were provided with personalised offers when nearby.

As a result, it is clear that consumers increasingly expect the high levels of convenience provided by mobile devices to be available in bricks and mortar stores. With the growing popularity of Apple Pay, which enables consumers to easily pay for goods on their phone, and the introduction of iBeacons from Facebook which can work with mobile apps to provide location based updates, retailers will be in a position to fulfil these demands.

However, embracing digital channels in retail does come with certain risks. In particular, although retail apps have huge potential to provide added convenience to customers, any glitches or delays within these applications are guaranteed to be a source of frustration. In the same way that long queues or unhelpful staff leave customers feeling disillusioned, anything that prolongs the process of purchasing goods will shatter the impressions of convenience in an instant.

Almost 70 per cent of the consumers we studied for the App Attention Index stated that the performance of a mobile apps affects their perception of a retailer on the whole, indicating a clear correlation between tech performance and brand loyalty.

In light of this, retailers and their CIOs must ensure their apps function across multiple platforms in order to retain and nurture always-on consumers. By ensuring they have capacity to deal with peaks and troughs in purchasing and behaviour, and implement intelligent platforms that can monitor the health of applications at all times, retailers can ensure that any problems within this technology are kept to a minimum.

Indeed, the performance of retail apps is often directly linked to revenue streams. It isn’t just on Black Friday or Cyber Monday that customers use online shopping to find the best deals. Year round, shopping apps are used to assist with researching the right product and price, so much so that apps can mean potential customers already have a strong opinion of a brand before they have been anywhere near the checkout.

With the ease and convenience of online retail becoming the norm for today’s time poor customers, they are already on the lookout for new ways that their shopping experience can be sped up and streamlined by using mobile technology. In the same way that the first supermarkets and online shopping sites revolutionised the concept of convenience when they were born, the next success stories of the retail world will be the ones that can
utilise mobile technology to define new levels of expectation.

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