How mobile apps are changing the way people shop

(Thinkstock)

(Thinkstock)

Consumers do not shop in the same way they used to. Gone are the days of reliance on high street shopping, instead the multi-channel environment is continuing to grow.

The modern shopper uses a number of different methods to find the product(s) they want. They may see something in a shop, try it on for size and then return home to browse a number of websites on their computer to find the best value option.

Alternatively, they may first seek inspiration online and then order with click and collect or have it delivered to their desired address. Consumers these days are spoilt for choice when it comes to ways of shopping.

Recent developments in mobile technology (which, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index has seen mobile shopping increase 52% year on year) have further contributed to the transformation in the way people shop.

This is not just due to the fact that mobile has exceeded desktop browsing but also through the explosion of apps. For example the app Grabble follows the trend set by Tinder, the dating app, by allowing browsers to swipe right to ‘grab’ potential fashion items and swipe left to reject them.

Fashion companies themselves are also developing social apps, such as the recently launched The Net Set, which has been developed by Net-A-Porter and allows users to share their styles, interests and inspirations with integrated shopping options – no longer is online shopping a private affair.

The likes of Grabble and The Net Set show that decisions on what people buy are being made quicker and quicker. We are not talking about a small number of individuals either; the recent Google algorithm change to promote mobile-friendly websites is no accident. It is because Google knows that the future is in mobile technology.

Reduced time to purchase means first impressions count even more; for some this will be based purely on what the product looks like, for others it might be the cost or perhaps whether it was ethically sourced. Hence on some channels photos of the product should dominate, on others the price, promotion or product description should be highlighted.

Retailers need to be aware of all the factors such as available margins, the logistics of delivery and returns, consumer ‘product language’ and ensuring product accessibility across different mobile devices. They will also need to understand which products are being searched for and how they then convert clicks to sales, taking into consideration available margins on those products in conjunction with the cost to drive sales.

Relevant and accurate information such as this can only be achieved by making sure that you have access to comprehensive and up-to-date data feeds.

Data feeds power online operations. The intelligence gained from data feeds needs to be acted upon, so that the right products appear in the right place at the right time for online shoppers to find them. Converting a search into an order is dependent on running efficient product-level adverts, with fully optimised product content – including price, description and images (if applicable).  The activity should then be managed and optimised at a product level so that every click (or swipe) drives revenue.

Online retailers must react quickly to keep apace with what their customers expect from them. Understanding how, why and what drives revenue is critical to ensuring your company remains profitable. Mobile apps are rapidly changing the retail industry: intelligence and agility are the keys to continued success.

Steve Rivers, chief executive of Intelligent Reach