3 Biggest Mistakes Retailers Make with Apps


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Who says building retail apps was easy? Or gaining huge mobile ROI is effortless? In this blog post, we’ll expand on 3 main retail app problems and the main takeaways.

1. Neglecting the 65% Who Didn’t Convert on Mobile 

According to sources like Mary Meeker and Criteo, retailers only get an average 35% e-commerce conversion rate via apps & mobile sites. That means that the other 65% conversion opportunities are converted on other channels like desktop.  Retailers underestimate the 35% overall on mobile. It’s a problem because they think 35% is enough and that the other channels can compensate for overall revenue, brand image, customer satisfaction, sales and more.

While being omnichannel as a brand is imperative, today’s consumer centers around mobile.  Leveraging your mobile strategy to influence other channels is the key. Omnichannel strategies serve many purposes and provide different value propositions per brand. Some strategies are positioned as an engagement channel to push out sales and inventory messages through email or web. Others serve like a website catalog with high glossy images of the new merchandise. While some brands provide loyalty rewards program via online or the app. Whatever the value proposition is, the marketer has a number of conversion goals to fulfill.  And whatever that conversion goal might be, making the app as a part of the customer journey facilitates better conversion. Likewise, tracking the overall customer journey between devices and channels is crucial through an all-in-one mobile analytics solution.

To understand mobile as a central means to omnichannel marketing, let me break it down in a few examples. Sometimes customers check out items on the app, but later convert inside the store. Or some customers browse in-store, pull out their phones and search reviews/product descriptions on the mobile site, then buy online at home via desktop.

70% of smartphone owners who bought something in a store first turned to their devices for information relevant to that purchase (Google). On the other hand, some customers explore the app, but don’t convert at all! Why do some convert with the support of the app while some don’t convert at all? It would be beneficial for the marketer to trace that missing information.

Takeaway: Again, the key is to think “omnichannel” with a center on mobile.  Setting up proper integrators between mobile and other systems/channels reveals the fragmented and naturally inconsistent customer journey. Once the marketer integrates a POS, CRM or other marketing automation/sales software with their mobile channel, customer data should augment as and be managed into one platform.  Therefore, the synchronization of data provides the marketer a 360 view of their customer.

2. Investing in Apps that Don’t Deliver

Investment in building, developing and maintaining mobile apps is definitely NO walk in the park. It can often take an exhaustive amount of resources – headcount, money, time, etc.  Mobile development and mobile marketing are often considered siloed channels with their own department and processes. Already, the workforce for enterprise mobile development will outstrip available capacity 5 to 1 person.  Therefore, retailers can fall into the traps of using the same, limited resources (people, strategies, tools) over time, but expect different results.  That’s crazy!

According to our 2017 Mobile Marketing Trends Report, almost half (47%) of respondents said budgets to execute their mobile strategy were in excess of $60,000 in 2016. In 2017, organizations look to keep that spending spree going, with almost 70% stating budgets will somewhat or significantly increase in 2017.

Takeaway: In order to make real success, retailers must capitalize on a mobile-first strategy. A strategy that focuses on customers first brings better value. After you create your value proposition, start small by targeting a beta test group. Make sure to craft a personalized, engagement plan which includes multiple touchpoints (in-store, online and mobile). Tailoring your mobile assets with hyper-context is a must.

3. Creating Retail Apps That Fail

Because retailers often underestimate the value proposition of an app, some retailers sabotage their mobile strategy by copying their entire website.  Often done as a quick fix, retailers think users behave and expect the same experience from the web on an app. BAD MOVE. According to google, the main reason why users download retail apps is due to:


Did you notice one of the points says, “activity unavailable on website”? That’s because the app should offer something of value to the user that isn’t available elsewhere. Also, an app that offers discounts, rewards, and making tasks/shopping easier are a few of the main reasons why users download.

Another point to mention is that 57% declare they already have a mobile app, but don’t want to revamp or upgrade their app.  That’s a huge missed opportunity to leverage existing work. Organizations should not overlook the potential of existing, even failed, mobile apps. Many apps were launched during the time of “there’s an app for that”.  These apps had little thought into the strategy, support or even clear goals in mind. These mobile apps quickly became unused and an unreliable resource to draw from a marketing team.

Takeaway: Make your app useful, inspiring, exclusive, rewarding OR exceptional compared to other channels. If you follow a solid app value proposition, then that’s half the battle. Also, many companies have existing apps that are prime for a re-do that could take far fewer resources and save both time and money. To minimize the time to market and resources needed to launch a brand new app, companies should look for technologies with pre-built features designed specific for the team’s goal, be it engagement or revenue or other.

If you’d like to learn more about mobile retail apps, I encourage you to check out our guide “5 Myths about Mobile Marketing” first.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Amanda Wilson
Amanda Wilson is the VP of Global Marketing at MobileBridge, the leading provider of mobile app engagement automation solutions. Her experience blended across marketing, product and sales drives her passion for helping companies market and sell their products through SaaS technology. She has previously held marketing leadership positions at Qvidian and Acquia.


  1. Hey Amanda,

    Great article! I really liked your point about neglecting the 65% of users who didn’t convert on mobile. There are so many different reasons why a user might not convert via mobile.

    One way to make sure your flow on mobile is seamless is by using qualitative analytics. User session recordings and touch heatmaps allow you to see how users are actually moving through your app and if there is anything hindering their experience. A tool that can help with this is https://www.appsee.com/.



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