The covid-19 pandemic that struck the world in the year 2020 has brought the world’s business and economy down to its knees. The alarming spread of the virus has wreaked havoc in the trade industry in an unimaginable way and retail is one such industry that is bearing the brunt like never before. This unprecedented situation has compelled retailers to hit the reset button. With the retail sales plummeting considerably, they are forced to rethink their business strategies. Many retailers are now finding themselves leaning towards the digital platforms to bounce back from the situation.
With social distancing and lockdown protocols being imposed across the globe, consumers are counting on online retail stores to fulfill their shopping needs. Research shows that 49% of consumers went online for their shopping purposes during the pandemic. Thanks to the rise in mobile apps, more consumers are now moving away from “brick and mortar stores” and flocking the e-commerce stores.
Today, there is a significant impact of the pandemic in everyone’s life and everyone is adapting to the new normal. Consumers do not want to go to a store these days. They prefer online shopping. They find it more convenient to look for the product they want on an eCommerce store, place the order, make the payment, and have the product delivered to their doorstep. Online shopping has experienced huge growth due to the pandemic. We have observed shifting consumer patterns driving an uptick in the ecommerce business. According to a study, 88% of consumers stick with the new brands that they have tried during the lockdown.
Seeing the surge in consumers choosing online shopping over a physical store, retail businesses have now started investing in enhancing the online experience of the customers. Customer experience has become the topmost priority for brands. Research shows that 86% of online shoppers are willing to pay more for a better online experience. As there are tens of thousands of brands online, people instinctively go for the brand that offers the best online experience, something that provides accurate details of the product and offers a sense of convenience and security when purchasing a product online.
The retailers must come to terms with the rapidly changing customer behavior and leverage the technology to meet the customer’s demands.
According to a survey, 25% of small and medium businesses are investing in new technologies to adapt to the growing digital landscape. Many retailers have realized that mobile apps are the “need of the hour”. Mobile apps are the most powerful marketing tool a brand can use. It helps them reach their target audience, improve interactions and deliver a great user experience while maintaining social distancing and following coved protocols. Mobile apps are the key to solving many problems retailers face during the pandemic.
But the question in everyone’s mind is how to create an efficient mobile app that serves the customers right.
Well here are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Retailers need to put themselves in the customer’s shoes, think from the customer’s perspective. What features in the app can make the customer’s experience smoother? List out the features that appeal to the customers. Build an app that customers need. Build a prototype of the app and launch it in the market. This way you can get their feedback. Build empathy and answer your customer’s queries. Then build an app based on customer’s reviews and feedback. This will result in a great user experience. If the app has all the features that a customer is looking for and is easy to navigate, it will leave a good impression thus increasing your brand popularity. The customer will be left satisfied with the experience he has had with the app and will want to come back to your store again.
Provide an “In the moment” shopping experience.
Customers need to feel special no matter whether they are present physically in the store or online. Retail businesses need to come up with strategies to cater to customers on both platforms. Retailers can use apps that can provide a virtual shopping experience. These apps allow customers to interact with the product virtually. Technologies like Augmented reality and virtual reality have become increasingly popular during the pandemic. Customers can engage with the brand and their product without actually being present in the store. This can increase the customer experience and increase the chances of sales.
Ensure data is accurate
A mobile app needs to provide accurate data to its users. When a customer is looking for a product, he might find the product in stock but if the product is no longer available at the store, he will be very frustrated. And will end up leaving a negative review for your brand. This will affect your conversions as people go with the reviews before making a purchase. So it is very important to focus on your inventory management In order to provide the best user experience to your customer your app must provide accurate, real-time data. This will enhance the customer’s experience and will help build trust with the brand.
Keep it simple
Customers cringe when they feel the app is complicated. Don’t make customers call you or download a different app just to contact you. Your app needs to have all functions built within the app. Remove unnecessary features that your customers find distracting or useless. Keep your app simple so that your customers can easily navigate and complete the purchase. Make sure all the options in the app work properly. Run numerous tests to make sure all the features and options in the app work properly. If the app’s quality is on the lower side, it won’t take long for a customer to switch to a better app from a different brand. All a customer is looking for is a better user experience. If your app doesn’t meet their expectation, they will look for a better deal somewhere else.
Open more channels of communications.
Customers tend to have a lot of queries while using a product. They are looking for instant solutions to all their problems and they expect someone to respond whenever they need help with the product. Retailers need to understand the importance of customer service. If a customer cannot get a quick response to any of their queries, this will leave the customer unhappy. A frustrated customer can leave a bad review which could further escalate the situation. The customer may never come back to your store citing bad customer service and might even not recommend your brand to others. Retailers need to prevent this by incorporating artificial intelligence and Chatbox technologies into their apps. Chatbox is the next big thing as it helps in offering self-support to customers and giving them quick accurate answers. According to a survey, 86% of the customers make use of chatbots for quick solutions. Chatbots can also help deliver a personalized atmosphere to the customers.
As the physical stores are reopening slowly, retailers will now need to interact with customers both online and offline. Today, Customers are perhaps open to services from multiple channels but expect consistency. Customers never like to compromise on their shopping experience be it online or offline. That is why you often hear “customer is the king”. Retailers have to invest heavily in providing an omnichannel experience without compromising on the quality of the service. Retailers must step up their omnichannel strategies to allow a smooth transition between online and offline platforms.
Provide contactless payment alternatives
Nearly 25% of online shoppers prefer contactless payment options. This will not only limit human interaction but also speed up the checkout time. Many retail stores have incorporated a touch-free payment system for shoppers to make online payments through their mobile apps. This will encourage cashier-less stores. Contactless payments are expected to increase in the next few months.
Customers like to keep track of their orders to know what is happening. It is best to include a notifications feature in the app so that the customers can know the status of their order whenever there is a change or whenever an “out of stock” product is available, customers can be notified through the app. Push notifications can allow customers to engage and stay updated with the “order and delivery” process.
Covid 19 is here to stay and businesses have to rely on digital platforms to survive this pandemic. They are left with no choice but to embrace this digital transformation happening across the globe. The pandemic has compelled consumers to follow covid protocols and stay indoors. So they are looking for ways to shop safely and securely. As more consumers are adapting to this new normal, retailers must invest in mobile apps to offer a seamless experience while continuing to provide services to their customers. Retailers must leverage the benefits offered by these mobile apps to retain their customer base and stay ahead of the competition.