Why retailers are turning to apps to boost business & engage customers


Retail has been one of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 restrictions. Low footfall in the high street has had a dramatic impact on retailers’ profits and led to many store closures, most recently, the well-known brand, Debenhams.

There have been winners though. Online businesses such as Amazon had a bumper year with profits jumping by a third in Q3 2020[i][i]. Also, retailers that were quick to embrace online shopping have weathered the storm better than others.

According to Retail Economics, the long-term implications to the retail sector will be vast. Around a third of British consumers say the way they shop will change. Additionally, almost half (45%) of consumers have now purchased an item online they had only ever previously purchased in-store, since the outbreak.

The focus on online shopping has led to a proliferation of websites being updated. But whilst websites can support the activity and process of online selection and purchasing, they do not necessarily provide some of the functions now considered crucial to the smooth introduction of an effective online shopping experience.

This is leading many retailers to introduce apps to make shopping or accessing their services easier for the consumer and giving them more choice of how they engage with a brand. The introduction of mobile phone, tablet and desktop computer apps, often working in combination with a website, is becoming increasingly valuable.

Apps can not only meet the demands of online shoppers and butare also able to both build and enable customer loyalty, something that is not easily addressed on a website.  Once an app is downloaded onto a mobile phone, tablet or desktop, customers can easily return to a chosen supplier time and time again. With the ubiquitous use of mobiles these days, it’s like having a shop in your pocket, ready for people to shop no matter where or when.

Accessing an app is like entering a shop to browse and purchase an item, whereas choosing from a multitude of website retailers is akin to standing in the middle of a market with multiple vendors trying to sell the same item.

Over the coming months we will be taking this a step further and actually bringing the store experience to someone’s mobile, lap top or tablet for retailers. Customers that use our low code app development platform Evoke to develop apps will be able to add 360 virtual viewing so customers can wander around a store virtually.

This will replicate the shopping experience to some degree and is similar to what many travel sites are doing when they take people on virtual journeys around key attractions. With COVID-19 restrictions expected to last some time, this is a great way to make online mobile shopping even more engaging for the consumer.

There are other advantages for retailers developing apps, compared with only having a website. These include increased security, location-based communication with customers, integrated use of phone technology (GPS, Bluetooth), information retention and display, the personalization of the shopping experience and a far higher conversion to purchase rate when compared to websites.

Apps are rapidly moving from being a ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘must-have’ for retailers of all sizes, as they increasingly recognise the benefits, and they don’t want to be left behind their competitors.

The use of no-code/low-code app development platforms, such as our platform Evoke is making app development far easier for retailers. This platform enables retailers to develop an app no matter their size or level of technology experience.

No-code/low-code opens new possibilities for retailers allowing them to create apps easily without a lengthy and costly development process. Customers are always just one click away on their mobile, tablet or desktop and can shop night and day at their convenience.

For retailers looking to build their e-commerce business in 2021 and adapt to the changing world, developing an app is a must. Please check out Evoke in retail and see how easy it is to develop and create a full function retail experience with an app.