Retailers need to learn how to bid on the future of mobile

The mobile revolution has changed the retail landscape almost beyond recognition over the past decade. After years of burying their collective heads in the sand, retailers have finally started to embrace mobile. In fact, according to App Annie the first half of this year was the largest bi-annual growth period for shopping apps ever, with over two billion downloaded across iOS and Google Play combined. Perhaps surprisingly, it is not traditional retailers that are currently top of the mobile tree though. Marketplaces occupy three of the top ten ranks for shopping apps in this country by both demand (downloads) and engagement (monthly active users).

One of the reasons that marketplace apps have gained so much traction is that they are well placed to utilise the inherent advantages of the smartphone. They have cameras that can take photos of products, geolocation services to find buyers and sellers nearby, secure messaging to coordinate sales and easy access to check on bids.

Time to take note

It is time for traditional retailers to take note of how marketplace apps have continued to acquire the 21st century shopper at a time where home screen real estate is at a premium, with the average user having 80 apps on their phone.

Following our success on the humble desktop, the move to mobile was a logical progression for us. It was a case of fully utilising the tools that were out there. Classifieds markets are growing so heavily on mobile because users can quickly find something in their vicinity faster than they could on a desktop. Also, the smartphone has become the primary device.

Knowing me, knowing you

It is not just a case of knowing who is downloading your app, but knowing just who the active users are and who have become dormant over time. Two key measures for us are how often users come back and how much time they spend in the app. Yes, the number of new downloads is a good tool to measure the attractiveness of an app, but it should always be seen in the context of the aforementioned KPIs. For a user who downloads an app, opens it and does not reuse it, it is important to understand why.

It’s an old adage but one that continues to ring true: the customer must always come first (regardless of the communication channel). Research shows that user experience continues to play a crucial role in the popularity of an app. The good news is that rather than being a barrier to engagement, a mobile app can assist you in getting closer to your customer than ever before, so that if an issue does arise it can be solved quickly and efficiently.

User experience plays a crucial role in the popularity of an app and when issues arise a speedy resolution is needed. It is about understanding customer needs and actively addressing issues – without this, the user will move on to a competitor. We measure feedback through online surveys, the evaluation of customer queries to our support team, usability tests and App Annie’s ratings and reviews feature.

Shifting consumer demands

Marketplace apps are currently the top players in the mobile shopping arena. Apps like ours have become highly sophisticated platforms that leverage the benefits of mobile to morph their offerings in line with shifting consumer demands and rank alongside the industry behemoths as leaders of the mobile shopping industry.

Retailers should take note. The landscape has never been more competitive, with new mobile-savvy digital-first entrants emerging daily. It is important not to rest on your laurels but continue to update offerings on mobile as new technologies emerge - not least of which VR and AR. By doing so, retailers can ensure that they not only survive, but thrive.

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