Click and convert: 3 steps to creating a great app

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Covid-19 has seen the retail industry’s focus on apps both shrink and expand over the past few months. Many companies are understandably hesitant to build an app in the current climate, while others are beginning to rely heavily on their digital ecosystem to drive online sales.

With many physical stores remaining restricted due to social distancing guidelines, an engaging app that creates a solid return on investment could prove to be a vital lifeline for retailers. In a world of social distancing, websites and mobile apps act like a window to the world outside.

Here are three simple steps to ensure your retail business is maximising your app’s value, giving your brand the upper hand over your competitors.

1. Understand your app’s value

In retail, selling your products through an app is a given. But what about the opportunities for increasing conversion rates through saving payment details, repeat orders, one-click payments and push notifications?

Adding a one-touch payment feature to your app is a great way to make it easier for repeat customers to complete transactions, by allowing the app to save payment details used in previous transactions. Customers won’t need to fill in their details every time they make payment, making the user experience as hassle-free as possible and encouraging repeat purchases. If it works for Amazon, it can work for your retail business too.

Push notifications are a great complement to one-touch payment features, especially if your business model is built around repeat ordering. A push notification can remind a customer they’re ready to reorder, and the task can be completed in just two taps, without needing to scroll through pages of apps or dig into the search bar.

Push is a far less competitive environment than other methods of communication – email, for example – and is an effective way to re-engage inactive customers. On the other hand, too many irrelevant push notifications can get annoying quickly. Make sure you reserve them for your most important messages so customers will see value in what you are putting in front of them.

Some of our clients have increased conversion rates by over 50 per cent through implementing similar strategies. At scale, this can create dramatic increases to your company’s revenue and profitability, which is especially important in the current Covid-19 climate.

2. Think lean

Start by asking yourself one important question: What problem/s am I solving for my customers? If you have identified multiple answers, prioritise the most important. Your entire app should revolve around the most important answer to this question.

From there, you can drill this down to the key objectives you want the app to accomplish and build a minimum viable product. This is where we keep the app simple, so it has fewer features done extremely well, so we can launch faster.

Following this process prevents you from rushing a feature-packed app from the beginning and instead helps you focus on creating an app with the highest possible quality.

By getting your app to market quicker, we can use real customer and analytical data to help shape the direction of the app. Simple does not mean basic, boring or buggy – it means quality and polish. And that’s what gets results.

3. Get the experience right

Your goal should be to have a user experience that is both attractive and effective. It’s not about creating the prettiest app, it’s about creating the most effective app. That’s not to say the aesthetic isn’t especially important – it’s your brand, after all. But you also want the app to achieve its key objectives, such as increasing sales.

Good user experience is all about data-driven design, so use your existing data and analytics to help inform design decisions. I generally recommend starting with a prototype to validate your design thinking with key stakeholders. Who is your most profitable customer? What features do they like to use? What pages do they visit the most? Start your design with your customer analytics, and build industry-leading aesthetics around that.

Mobile app users are more demanding than desktop users when it comes to engagement experience, since they tend to be in a rush. With this in mind, your goal should be to have a user interface that does not overwhelm users with unnecessary content. This means we can’t compromise on design quality. At the end of the day, we’re competing with all other apps for the attention of your customer.

Simplicity can be deceptively difficult to achieve, so try not to cut costs when it comes to designing your app’s experience. If your internal capabilities aren’t up to scratch, find the best partner you can to help you deliver the best design possible. This is another storefront for your business, after all.

As we’ve seen time and time again from the apps that lead the charts – including Showpo, JD Sports, The Iconic and Youfoodz – we know that apps are a great way to create return on investment for your business, especially during Covid-19.

Every single one of these tips is geared towards one thing: giving your app the competitive advantage. If you can ensure your app works faster, looks cleaner and is more useful than those of your competitors, the customer is going to choose yours every single time. And in the current climate, you can’t ask for better than that.

Jamie Shostak is co-founder and head of growth at Appetiser App Development.

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