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In the modern world of e-commerce, where every online business has easy access to an online storefront, for example with a Shopify website, it's tough to stand out. We all know that the key to a lasting business is building a lasting competitive advantage, but doing so is much harder than merely stating its importance. Many successful businesses build appear to have built such an advantage through unique branding, whereby customer equity is build up through the image upon which the company frames itself and its products in market. Yet, once more, building a brand is far easier said than done; it's almost like a catch 22 situation. Does the competitive advantage come first, and thereby facilitate brand building, or is the brand first established whereby the competitive advantage built upon? It's a valid question, and one where you'd likely find a 50/50 split if you were to ask any group of business executives.
Nevertheless, we at Youshie like to believe that it is the products and core differentiating aspects of a business that first set itself apart that drive brand equity growth. This is where mobile apps come into play; they can exist as a tool to give your business a competitive advantage to drive brand growth. At the turn of the 2010's, when smartphones were experiencing rapid growth, many businesses thought that they could set themselves apart from competitors through a mobile app, as at the time, they'd likely be the some industry incumbent that can reach customers through a mobile app. Logically speaking, this was a great strategy, as if you were looking to shop on your brand-new smartphone, whichever business could reach you through a proprietary app store likely had a leg up on competitors. However, in addition to this, what ended up happening was rather unexpected; mobile apps, iOS and Android alike, actually converted and performed better, across the board, than the same companies web storefront offerings. But why?
“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” - Jeff Bezos
The answer lies in a better experience for realized and prospective customers. Apps not only exist to set your business apart, but to give customers a better shopping experience. By porting your shopping experience to a native iOS and Android app, you, as a business,
Think about a good mobile app as giving your physical store a renovation such that customers can not only get their products and pay faster, but the experience going from start to finish looks better, giving off a premium feel. Any retail business would foam at the mouth over this prospect! It may seen rather trivial, but give customers a better experience when in your "store" whether that store be physical or online, and they will spent more money, more often; this is exactly how mobile apps can convert better. And this initial spike in conversions is not just short-lived: it helps build brand equity and a lasting competitive advantage! Consequently, giving your customers a better shopping experience once is more likely to make their subsequent shopping experiences better. In our view, this feedback loop is an essential tool of how mobile apps assist in driving brand growth.
“Communications is at the heart of e-commerce and community.” - Meg Whitman, President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard
In today's business climate, consumers receive marketing communications 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In fact, it would seem odd to not hear from the various email newsletters you're subscribed to: and that's the problem. Each day, a handful of companies are competing for the same consumer's attention, likely through the same mediums. Every company, small or large, is likely advertising on social media, both in a paid and organic manner, and is furthermore likely sending customers emails a few times a week about important sales that a customer should be aware of. How does your business stand out in this proverbial sea of identical fish. If you guessed mobile app by now, you're getting the picture. The answer lies in the ability of push notifications to garner a consumers attention. After all, it is the same communication channel that is used to notify them about their family's text messages; it inherently implies that more attention will be paid to communications that appear among a user's notification tray, alongside their important notifications they absolutely cannot miss. In fact, marketing communications via push notifications achieve an almost 7x higher engagement rate than traditional marketing emails. Want your customers to act on a new sale you're launching? A push notification will be far more effective than a traditional email, it's as simple as that. Furthermore, due to the user data that can be extracted from a mobile app, these marketing communications via push notification can be sent to individual consumers that are targeted based on individual preferences, location purchase propensity and much more! Sounds great right?
“Data data data, I can’t make bricks without clay.” - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The reason e-commerce companies care so much about data is that proper manipulation and analysis of quality data can reveal key consumer behaviours, that then in turn can be exploited to drive purchases; to put it another way, the more we learn about prospective customers, the more we can target each individual customer specifically to mold our market offerings to closer match their preferences. Mobile apps improve our ability to target consumers in two ways. The first pertains to the amount of user data having an app allows us to collect, and our ability to mold incentives and a user's shopping experiences around assumed preferences.
Given that apps are tied to a given device ID, and/or an account, we can detect who a given user is quite easily. Consequently, we can cater the products that would be visible to a user based on their previous implied preferences and purchase behaviours. As a result, we are able to target users at an individual level, morphing the purchase experience to each user. This accomplishes two important things: making users more likely to complete a purchase, as they are shown products they have a higher aptitude to buy, and making it more likely for users to spend more, as they are being shown more products they are likely to add to cart in the first place! Furthermore, and just as important, we can use analogous user data to identify whether a user is likely to complete a purchase in a given time window, and based on this likelihood, offer purchase incentives via personalized promotion codes to secure the sale.
The second way mobile apps improve our ability to target consumers may be less obvious, as it pertains to the concept of self-selection. Self-selection refers to the tendency for individuals to select themselves into a group; in the case of mobile apps, this materializes itself through the group of existing customers that are most likely to download your app in the first place. Downloading an app is somewhat of an ask, at least relative to web-based platforms. Consequently, those who are most likely to download an app are those who are higher-quality customers, already exhibiting a high propensity to engage with your brand. As a result, your app encourages self-selection on behalf of higher-quality customers into the group of mobile app users; this benefits you, the business, by being able to target, and promote to, app users in isolation, obtaining a better response in terms of purchases and per-user revenue then that which would be garnered by blasting out a generic advertisement across all your customers. To put it another way, your mobile app gives you an easier way to individually target your best, most active customers.
What this enables you to do offer products, services, bundles, sales etc. that would only be profitable in scale, or bulk/large purchases. You can instead offer these prospective offers and tie them to the app! As app users by our prior argument will likely be of the higher-quality. This case actually came up with one of our clients, whom wished to revaluate their shipping costs they pass on to the consumer. With rising costs due to inflation, they wished to lower offer free shipping irrespective of order size (which was currently in place) to encourage purchases, but due to their shipping costs this was only feasible from an economic perspective should customer order sized exceed a given amount. Under the logic presented above, it was decided that free shipping should be offered for app orders only. Order size ended up exceeding the required amount to make free shipping plausible, making the change a success with respect to both sales and brand standing.
A mobile app can help your business secure a competitive advantage in a crowded market, assisting to build long-lasting brand equity. Yet, building a quality iOS and Android app is far easier said than done, with respect to both ongoing development difficulty and cost alike; many development companies will charge 6 figures for developing an e-commerce app, not including ongoing development costs.
This is where we come in. Youshie's platform is built from the ground up for small businesses, giving your business its very own iOS and Android app to drive revenues, accompanied with back-end software to manage products, sales, and data-driven insights; there are no development costs involved, and we can get your app up and running in less than a month! Our mission is to assist your small business' e-commerce growth, and we can do that with a mobile app experience that makes it as extremely easy and enjoyable to view and purchase your products. Our unique UI/UX has yielded a 3x increase in conversions among existing clients. With built in ability to communicate to your customers via push notifications, your customer engagement will increase significantly, giving your brand a competitive advantage. Youshie let's you supercharge your business' growth without the large, up-front development costs! For more information, visit our website www.youshie.com, and get in touch with us for more information or a demo of our platform.
There are many reasons why retailers should have their own mobile app, in addition to their e-commerce website. While historically only the largest retailers had their own app, that doesn’t have to be the case anymore. Below are the top 5 reasons – all leading to an increase in sales - of why a small-to-medium sized business should have their own mobile app:.
While the customer will indeed tell you what they want from your business, they will not tell you how to craft a market-defining customer experience. Avoid premature and inadequate launches with Youshie's rule of 85.