October 7, 2022
Mobile apps offer numerous opportunities for businesses. They play an important role in building relationships between businesses and customers and provide a convenient platform to shop on the go. But to run with the pace of this digital world, simply having an app is not enough - there are literally millions of apps to compete with. What are the secrets of the top e-commerce apps?
Perhaps you should consider building apps by example. So, let’s take a look at the mobile success stories of famous brands.
As convenience and speed are the top priorities for today's consumers, e-commerce apps deliver these possibilities right into their hands. Here are other reasons why people will want you to offer a native mobile app:
With background information covered, let’s get to inspiring examples of mobile apps.
The list of the best mobile apps includes huge successful companies, but all merchants can learn from them. It’s especially important for startups and SMBs to understand how creative and impactful mobile apps can be. So, before building, look at some of the best products on the market.
Amazon was one of the earliest adopters of mobile commerce. The initial app release was in 2011, and it maintains its spot as one of the most successful apps, leading the pack in terms of innovation and mobile sales.
The app replicates the desktop shopping experience with aplomb. What’s more, app users have access to a couple of unique features. For example, there is a traditional barcode scanner and an alternate scanning feature called Flow, both making it a breeze to comparison-check prices.
Flow deserves special attention - with this feature, you can identify items without a barcode while shopping in the real world. You just scan the front of the product, and the app will show you the in-app alternative, which is often cheaper.
AliExpress was also an early adopter of using smartphones throughout the entire purchase journey. But the 2011 version of the app wasn’t successful in converting the users, so they added:
For a company that conquered the international market, localizing the app and providing the same quality for different languages is key. And AliExpress does not disappoint in that department.
A few clever additions compared to Amazon’s app are the search feature at the top where people are used to seeing it, the menu with labels at the bottom, and the image search where users can upload images and shop for items from them. Although, we should mention that the engine is not particularly successful in finding all the right products.
In 2012, the application was already widely recognized, but the redesign in 2017 made a real difference and brought about the online/offline blend. The newly added features over the last few years include:
In a successful effort to improve and streamline customers’ decision-making and purchasing processes, the company released IKEA Place. The debut of the app in 2017 was a trailblazing event that showed what retailers could accomplish with augmented reality.
Users can take a picture of their room and virtually install IKEA’s furniture and decor. The true-to-scale 3D models offer the opportunity to “try before you buy”.
IKEA’s app wasn’t always “shoppable”. It was only the 2021 upgrade that allowed users to make purchases directly on the app for home delivery or in-store pickup. Before that, the app functioned as an in-store companion, which is still the most exciting feature within the app even today.
McDonald’s uses its app to interact with customers in new ways. The team even implemented Instagram-like features. For example, one of its first in-app promotions in 2013 was to encourage users to take photos of their favorite meals. The benefits were two-fold: firstly, user-generated content tends to be more influential on customers; secondly, it added an interactive element to the user experience.
Another use of the app is advertising menu items that don’t get enough attention. Mobile app users get access to exclusive discounts and vouchers, which is a win-win - users get deals, and McDonald’s pushes low-selling items (or simply brings fresh attention to older products).
While we praised Amazon and Aliexpress for being pioneers in mobile e-commerce, Starbucks figured it out two years beforehand, in 2009. Initially, the app was nothing more than an information hub about nearby coffee shops, types of brews, drink suggestions, etc. Three years later, the team added a loyalty program and an integration with iPhone’s Wallet app.
Now, Starbucks’s app allows users to scan and pay in-store, order ahead for pickup, locate their favorite barista, search for songs playing at physical locations, and explore exclusive personalization opportunities.
Etsy has an all-around great app with a sleek, minimalist design and a streamlined experience packed with features. Some of the most recent changes included:
We won’t be covering the stages of mobile app development here, which is a substantial topic on its own. For now, we want to give you a few tips on what to focus on before and during development.
Here is what makes a successful app:
Make sure to deliver a scope of consumer-centric features (nice design, stable, reliable workflow, quick access to help, etc.), as well as business-centric features (quick, hassle-free payments, data breach protection, easy update procedure, etc.).
It’s also helpful to include a range of options for customer convenience. Most well-known examples of m-commerce payment modes include mobile banking, in-app purchasing, virtual marketplace, and digital wallets.
If you want your customers to buy easier and buy more, going mobile will be the right move. Apps are guided by consumer behavior. They offer a better navigation experience and are less clumsy than websites. And as you’ve seen in mobile commerce statistics, user adoption is only getting stronger.
Analyze the best mobile business ideas and see what the top app companies have in common. Of course, you shouldn’t copy competitors’ apps - just look at their strengths and adapt them to your business or make them even better.
Remember that your mobile app should be a natural continuation of other aspects of your business. Even if mobile commerce is or will eventually become your core focus, ensure consistency across all customer touchpoints.
A mobile app can be a helpful tool for improving direct communication with users. But it’s not only about establishing a constant, real-time connection - for your mobile app to thrive, you also need to analyze a wealth of information. Our team at Reteno can help you make sense of the data gathered from customers. Spot shopping patterns, build detailed buyer personas, and act on our recommendations!
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