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Barriers in Adopting Mobile Retail Apps

Updated on November 6, 2016

The retail industry faces several hurdles when it comes to harnessing the true potential of mobile commerce. When it comes to app usage, consumers prefer using mobile apps for 89% of the media time on using social networks, email and news apps, according to the data from Nielsen. Well, the scattered app usage of 11% goes to the plethora of retail apps on the store. According to an analytical study by Yahoo’s Flurry, 90% of the uptime for mobile devices is accounted for app usage. However, just 4% of it is possessed by the retail apps.

According to several analysts, the client base for a particular retail app is very limited in its scope. The most loyal customers are the ones using the retail apps actively, according to a study conducted by mobile data analytics company Wefi. Even if the app is downloaded, it has a severely limited usage and only 8% of smartphone users with at least one retail app use them daily. Well, 13% of the user group mentioned they never really used the retail apps they downloaded. Just 2% of them accepted the claim to use the retail apps multiple times a day.

However, the mobile retailing sector is showing an unprecedented growth midst the odds. 90% of the retailers believe that mobile commerce is already impacting the shopping behaviour of consumers, according to a research conducted by an independent firm, Vanson Bourne. Demands are ripe for a seamless mobile shopping experience with 60% using mobile internet to decide the commodities in the store or while making a purchase online. 40% of the individuals use mobile applications to make shopping decisions, while 37% of them use both of them. However, a major difference can be clearly spotted midst the demand and the supply. Well, just one of the six retailers on the mobile commerce platform holds a comprehensive mobile strategy.

Several barriers may be accounted for this phenomenon. The primary reason behind the lack-luster development of retail mobile commerce is the number of apps available and the confusion surrounding the use of them. The multitude of apps available and the numerous services account to mobile fragmentation. Additionally, the trust factor comes into play when accounting for the lag in the growth of mobile retail apps. According to a recent blog by PayAnywhere, “Given all the apparent convenience of such forms of payment – from the convenience of not carrying cash to the security of having money stored under digital lock and key – one could only wonder what has caused some analysts to voice doubts about this seemingly inevitable phenomenon.”

Let’s consider the barriers to the growth of mobile retail apps, and ultimately mobile commerce:

Payment Hassles

One of the biggest concerns surrounding the usage of retail apps is the issue of data security. Consumers are still aren’t on the terms with the feasibility to make payments online. One finds it quite rivalling to share the payment details with a third party when there’s an indication of the content being leaked into the wrong hands. Since the time being, cards and cheques have been used as the primary method of payment, which were conventionally safe sans any access by third-parties. With mobile phones, retail apps, and all the more, internet, users are concerned that leakage of sensitive information may lead to financial jeopardy. Additionally, the risk of user lists being accessed by third parties involves the issues of loads of junk mail, promotions and spam content from them. Yet again, if the card-details are compromised with, the consequences may not be that comforting.

For a section of the consumer base, making payment through smartphones is not feasible to an extent. The disinterest in using smartphones is voiced by the fact that swiping cards is equally convenient. The root of the problem is the absence of a comprehensive mobile commerce strategy. A majority of ventures offer just payment services. Well, a revamping step would be using coupons and redemptions for promotional offers. Several well-known names have implied the use of QR codes at their premises. Consumers can access the services by scanning the code with smartphones and make payments easily.

The last nail to the coffin of mobile retail apps is presence of a consumer base untouched by the smartphone phenomenon. Roughly half of the population is in possession of smartphones. However, the remaining client base still has to be brought into the mobile commerce stream. Well, the numbers are increasing, and a comprehensive strategy would be bringing a unified service option which includes mobile payment options whilst including services for accepting the conventional methods of payments.

Rapid mobile fragmentation

Businesses, be it the retail sector, the financial, healthcare or entertainment ones, face a major hurdle in the form of mobile fragmentation. Owing to the increased competition in almost every sector, adoption of a unified mobile app strategy is turning out be an arduous task. Several players have signified presence in the app development sector and owing to the latest technologies and features; the consumer base is flooded with a multitude of options.

This problem holds no solution as the retailers possess no single solution to the issue. Rather, the issue can be managed to an extent by building a multi-platform presence. In other words, the mobile commerce strategy should be meticulously based upon the consumer’s requirements. Be it the iOS, Android or Windows or a multi-platform build, a strategic approach unifying the presence across different sectors is the need of the hour. Be it the native build or the hybrid build, bringing in a development approach which implies the use of the consumer’s devices and harnesses the resources judiciously to offer a unified user interface will surely bring in greater organic traffic, and finally greater sales.

Insecurity concerning the third parties

A majority of users stay dormant to the services provided by retail apps owing to the speculated privacy breach. According to a report by Forrester, only 34% of the consumer base turns on their geo-location for mobile retail apps, while only 32% of them turn on mobile notifications for retail apps. Well, the phenomenon is deep-trenched and building the consumer’s trust is quite an arduous task. Yet again it is evident from the fact that just 26% of the users add credit card information for the retail mobile apps.

There is a significant presence of the consumer base which prevents use of any such service and stays dormant, from the mobile commerce stream. Approximately 20% of the folks using these apps provide no user information and just get the app for a occasional check. Consumers also refrain from adding personal details to the retail apps including email or social media accounts. Well, only a 24% of the surveyed individuals provide the details to experience a customised experience.

While the customer engagement is not as expected by the retailers, still the companies are making efforts and disposing resources to gain traffic and hence ring into sales. According to a report, sales through mobile apps elevated to 16% after a reported 12% sales for the year 2014. Hence, the retailers are aiming now for an Omni-channel solution, which is flexible as per the user’s requirements and helps in garnering the consumers a user-defined experience, building the trust factor and hence transforming the potential customers into regular ones.

Finding the right product

When a consumer opens up a retail app, he wishes to find the right product for him. The primary motive behind the development of the app is offering a seamless experience to the consumer. However, the retailers are seemingly building apps for devices, rather than the consumers. Smartphone traffic is on a constant surge; however, the conversion rate for the total number of unique visitors to the number of purchases made speaks of a great difference of approximately one third of the net organic traffic. Well, the reason is quite clear. Most of the visits are made to the app for leisure in a highly distractive environment. Hence, this atmosphere is not convenient enough to get a sale.

Finding the right product on a smartphone is never an easy task. Owing to the screen dimensions, looking for the right product requires a handsome investment of time and research. Getting traffic to the app and a million downloads is one thing but ringing into sales is yet another one. The consumer wishes to land on the right product instantaneously and has no time to fumble through insignificant information. Bringing in voice-controlled search for products is not yet that feasible for a majority of retailers. However, they possess mobile site search at their disposal and seemingly, it can offer a decent user-interface which lets the consumer find the right product.

Well, the retailers consider the site search tool, no more than a look-up tool. Several online retailers are banking on the opportunity and observing consumer engagement and merchandise promotion through the search tools. Well, using data of the user, like previous searches, preferences, location history and usage duration, may help in bringing an idea about the product preferences for the user. When the conventional retailers, rethinks of his mobile app strategy and meticulously includes something which the user can bank on to find the right product, getting traffic and sales won’t be an issue then.

Checkout services

Once a consumer has made his selections and preferences, there comes the event of checking out of the site and making payments. Well, on the rare occasion when the right product is found, absence of an effective checkout service diverts the consumer to another platform. At times, when using the service, they have to repeatedly add the payment details, including the card information, login with an OTP, and yet again enter the details to execute the payment, all of it while holding the device in at-least one hand. Seemingly, swiping a card seems an easier experience.

In the e-commerce niche, presence of a multi-step checkout is the primary reason for lesser number of conversions of sales. Well, a single payment or purchase asks for filling out multiple fields and fumbling through small buttons. Once the procedure has been completed, there comes the event of completing the payment by a third party application. Well, a unified approach which brings in a single login attempt to clear out the payment while the consumer sits back and relaxes to receive the product, is the conclusion to this issue. Several services, like Paypal, Freecharge, Amazon, Macy’s etc., offer services which include entering the details just once and re-using the password and username wherever a payment is to be made. Well, retailers can bank on this particular feature and well, get sales and in the long run, convert the potential customers into regular ones.


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