How added value and personalization promote app usage

Online sales via shopping apps are increasing, but usage remains constant. Merchants should make sure their apps are actually used. Added value and personalization help score points.

Benefits promote usage

Amazon, Amazon, Amazon: the US retailer is also far ahead of the rest with mobile commerce and its shopping app. At least this is the result of a recent study conducted by IFH Köln . According to this study, 43 percent of orders placed on mobile devices are already processed via app. However, “online sales via apps have been increasing for years, but the number of apps used remains relatively constant,” reports Eva Stüber, member of IFH’s management board and author of the analysis. “The reason for this seemingly contradictory development is Amazon. Amazon’s app is the most popular shopping app by far and is capturing an ever-increasing share of online trade.” 43 percent of smartphone users surveyed have the Amazon app on their mobile phones and 36 percent use it regularly. Other shopping apps lag far behind. Zalando’s app is on about every tenth mobile phone and only three percent order clothes and shoes with it.


Pay attention to the wishes of target groups

“Younger target groups or those who do a lot with their smartphones tend to use apps more often for shopping,” says Stüber. Shopping apps have been proven to promote impulsive buying. 61 percent of consumers admit that they now shop more often by app than they did two years ago. According to IFH, about every fourth person prefers to order via app rather than through a mobile-optimized web shop. In order to attract young target groups and the Z generation in particular, more and more online retailers and chain stores are having apps developed. With most providers, however, there is a wide gap between download and usage figures. “Apps are successful,” says Stüber, “if they are well anchored in a service and retail concept and geared to the wishes of the target group.” Whether young or old, consumers primarily open those apps that offer them added value, i.e., information or entertainment.


Personalize offers and information

The About You app isn’t just intended to be a shopping program. Users can be inspired by photos, find styling and design tips like on Instagram, even from well-known bloggers. Above all, however, the Otto subsidiary regularly displays personalized content to its users including information, discounts and promotional offers that are exclusively available in the app. It is therefore opened much more often than that of its competitor Zalando. Although the Berlin-based company’s app can be found much more often on smartphones, the difference between download figures and use is only one percent for About You and eight percent for Zalando. “What unites many providers of successful shopping apps is that they stage their products and encourage customers to make impulsive purchases,” says Stüber.


Provide rewards for opening the app

Wish is one of the ten most popular shopping apps in Germany. The American company entices consumers with low prices and allow consumers to swipe through offers like in the dating app Tinder. In this way, the program gets to know their personal preferences and clothing style, and can therefore constantly further tailor its offer to the smartphone owner. But that’s not all: Wish has also developed a bonus system that rewards regular shopping so that the shopping app is not just installed and offers viewed. This makes customers happy, who are looking for bargains anyway, and it’s not for nothing that Wish download and usage figures are close to each other. As alternatives to discounts, playful elements appeal to collectors’ and winners’ mentalities and also result in good rates of opening the app.


Connecting sales channels

The fashion chain Bonprix has also been relying on a shopping app for some time and is now interlinking its branches and online shop with it. In the new boutique in Hamburg, customers can use it to scan price tags and order pullovers or trousers in their size in the changing room or call in a consultant. Linked to the shop, they can use an app to search for other accessories and items of clothing that do not exist in the shop due to lack of space. “The app’s added value will ensure customers download it and order it online on the medium term,” says Stüber. “Ultimately, it’s always about convenience. A purchase must be simple and fast. Apps offer some possibilities to satisfy this desire, but their features should not be a result of the available technology, but of the customers’ needs.” Supermarkets could use apps to provide information about ingredients, compile barcodes to form a shopping list or even import recipes. Do-it-yourself stores use a spirit level to encourage regular opening of their apps and perhaps even ordering of screws and tools. “Whether to have an app is no longer an either-or decision,” Stüber notes. “It’s all about concepts, goals and strategies.”


The bottom line:

Shopping apps are a component of multichannel retail and promote impulsive buying. However, this requires apps to be opened regularly. Retailers can do this by concentrating on the wishes of their target groups and providing them with personalized information or useful features.