How Mobile Apps Can Solve Your Customer Data Dilemma

Orange apparel products displayed in a grid within a mobile device

A declining return on ad spend has caused many brand owners and marketers to rethink their retention strategy. It’s more expensive than ever to gain a new customer, and that makes it even more important to keep the customers you already have.

Building lasting relationships means getting to know your customers and providing ongoing value. This was much easier when face-to-face and in-store interactions were the only touchpoint in a buyer’s shopping journey. Today, digital personalization is the key driver of customer loyalty. 77% of customers say they would choose, recommend, and even pay more for a brand that offered a personalized experience. And 68% wouldn’t return to a brand that provides an unsatisfactory one.

But personalization is more than your customers’ name in the subject line of an email. It’s about creating a tailored experience that enhances the way they feel about your brand—and this can’t be achieved without data!

The future is cookie-less but mobile apps can solve your customer data dilemma. Mobile apps don’t just collect data differently than a browser—they can offer truly personalized customer experiences.

Mobile Apps vs Mobile Web

First things first, a mobile app is not the same as a mobile optimized website, like your Shopify store. Mobile websites are built for web browsers—whether they exist on a desktop, tablet, or a mobile device. And while a good mobile site is responsive, meaning it will resize for optimal viewing on different screen sizes, it still relies on cookies to collect customer data.

Native apps, on the other hand, aren’t built for web browsers. They’re built for specific mobile operating systems like iOS or Android. That means they’re able to leverage the features and data that its owner stores on the device itself. Unlike a browser, apps do not use cookies to gather information about your customers. Instead, they request permissions from their users to access certain features on the device.

Users are able to choose which details they want the app to access and are usually asked to share permissions in exchange for a better app experience. Some common feature requests include camera access, the ability to record audio, share a location, or access contacts.

You’ve likely experienced this first hand with an app on your device. In ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft, the app requests permission to share your location. Your device is able to provide those coordinates to the app, which shares them with your driver. Later, if you choose, you can turn off location sharing settings, or set them to only share your location when using the app.

You’re also able to save personal information within individual apps on your device. In the ridesharing example, this could be the ability to save your credit card number to pay for future rides.

These same features can be used in shopping apps to create easier, better shopping experiences for your customers.

Unlocking Personalized Brand Experiences

Understanding how mobile apps collect data unlocks a world of possibilities for personalized shopping. Because your customer stays logged in, the app stores data on their behavior, usage, and preferences. In a shopping app, this could be wishlist items, a history of past orders, or the ability to track a shipment.

When a mobile app uses a personalization algorithm, you can also recommend products to your customers. And native features allow you to reach them during the highest-intent moments of their customer journey.

Apps help create frictionless shopping experiences by meeting your customers in the right place at the right time. Using push notifications, you can ensure that your customers get updates that are relevant, timely, and convenient. These are especially powerful in the post-purchase journey when your customer is anticipating the arrival of their order.

Native mobile apps also offer the ability to leverage device features for richer experiences with your brand. The camera lets customers explore products with augmented reality and picture it in their home before purchase. Location sharing helps reach customers in the right context. For example, you can push special offers to a customer near your retail store, or let them know about a time-sensitive product drop.

The opportunity to engage customers with device features is only possible through native mobile apps. But there are other ways to collect customer data that can help you with personalization and retention.

An integrated checkout with your Shopify store gives you another way to stay connected to your customer. Mobile wallets save details that make checkout easy and encourage more shopping behavior. Your omnichannel shoppers (the ones who interact with your brand across multiple channels like TikTok, Instagram, Shop, email etc.) are 23% more likely to make a repeat purchase. Interacting with your brand on multiple channels also increases retention. Omnichannel marketing has a 90% higher retention rate than single-channel marketing efforts.

So while cookies are disappearing and your customer expectations are continuing to rise, personalization is achievable! We know mobile apps are the future of commerce, and we’re building one specifically for Shopify stores. The (free) Shop channel and native mobile shopping app can help you offer the level of personalization customers’ have come to expect. Shop is not only powered by Shopify, it uses Shop Pay’s integrated checkout and taps into local features to collect better data that your brand can use to offer better experiences than ever before.

Add the Shop channel to your Shopify admin to retain your best customers through better experiences on the Shop app.