Why Brands Need An App Strategy

mobile app icons and shoes on a purple background

In the last few years, there have been sweeping changes made to the way personal information is shared with businesses. The loss of cookies is hurting every brand. We've all relied on them for data about our customers' preferences and history.

This makes it especially challenging for brands who are looking to do good by their customers. 71% of consumers expect personalized experiences, but they are impossible to build without customer data! 

The good news is the answer to the loss of cookies is (probably) already in the palm of your hand. Mobile apps give brands the opportunity to meet and engage their customers where they are— on their mobile devices. Only apps are able to collect the data you need and help you deliver the experience your customers expect.

Mobile apps give brands real estate with their customers

It’s not an exaggeration to say our mobile devices have become an extension of ourselves.

Smartphone penetration is at 80% among Americans and continues to grow globally. Our mobile devices come with us nearly everywhere we go, we love them because they are personal and personalized. We can customize our settings, download the apps we want, and enjoy the many additional features our phones provide.

Our attachment to our mobile devices makes them a highly sought after channel for brands to reach their customers. And with more opportunities to engage customers through mobile, there are always new and better ways of shopping popping up through apps.

Shopping app downloads in a single day reached an all-time high during Black Friday 2021. 2.8 million shopping apps were installed on November 27, contributing to the 59.2 million shopping apps downloaded that month. The number is 15% higher than it was in 2019, as more consumers use mobile apps to complete (and dare we say enjoy) their holiday shopping.

Shopping apps are popular because they empower buyers. They offer choice and flexibility by bringing a variety of products into a single location that can be accessed anywhere, at any time. With a single shopping app, shoppers can experience many brands at once without having to navigate a variety of interfaces. They can create a single shopping profile for an easy, on-demand shopping experience—without having to find their wallet or memorize their credit card number.

Social media apps have also evolved to include shopping. Social commerce allows creators and brands to sell their products directly from social media channels. Social media gives brands a way to reach a wide audience, and now they can sell directly to their fans. In 2020, social commerce generated about $475 billion in revenue. By 2028, social commerce is expected to reach $3.37 trillion.

The dark side of third-party platforms

Listing your products on your social channels and retail shopping apps are great ways to extend the visibility of your brand. But when it comes to earning customer loyalty, these channels fall short.

Making sales on these platforms means the traffic skips your online store—and that’s bad for your business. You miss the customer data they would have provided at checkout which you could use to personalize their next experience with your brand. Without data, your brand becomes reliant on the hosting platform to continue the relationship with your that customer.

The power of apps is their ability to use the data they collect to help you engage customers at pivotal points on their shopping journey. 63% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from a brand that offers relevant recommendations or products. When cookies disappear, this won't be possible on desktop or mobile web. But in a native mobile app, you’re able to offer a personalized experience with ease. Apps have the data and engagement features that make them the ideal tool for increasing loyalty.

Choosing a partner for mobile commerce

To truly take advantage of mobile apps, you need to choose one that gives you access to your customers’ data and the ability to engage them through the app’s native features, like push notifications. Without these, you’re largely limited to order information and email.

Finding this combination can be tricky. Few platforms give you control over native features and building your own app faces too many barriers. Apps are expensive to build and maintain, and customers are not adopting retail apps as readily as they once did. How many times have you deleted an app to gain space on your phone? Your customers are already committed to the social and shopping apps of their choice. You need to go where they already are.

Brands don’t need a single app strategy. Each platform plays a part in creating an omnichannel customer experience.

One example is Shopify Plus merchant, Allbirds. Allbirds puts their brand at the heart of their messaging: their site, retail locations, social media, their native app, and partner apps. All of these channels offer them unique opportunities to reach their customers and amplify their mission.

Both their native mobile app and the Shop app give them control over their customers’ shopping experience. Wishlists and AR are native features that help customers experience products to entice their purchase. Push notifications prompt their customers to return, find out when their order will arrive, and take action on a flash sale. The best part is these touch points are automated based on the behavioral data the app has on their customers.

And this is only at the beginning of what will become possible for mobile shopping. Apps give brands endless opportunities to provide and improve the best experiences for their customers. To start using mobile to help your business, add Shop to your store admin and join us as we build the future of commerce.