Original author: Guy Murphy at MuleSoft


Back in 2005, online stores were the hot topic du jour for retailers. If you were in commerce back then, you were probably asking yourself questions like:

● Does my business need an online store?
● Will the benefits justify the time (and resources) spent?
● What are the specific benefits of having an online sales channel?

Things have obviously changed since then. Commerce has changed so much that succeeding in retail without an online sales channel is virtually impossible.

Today, the conversation has shifted to mobile shopping apps and their significance for e-commerce. Many online retailers wonder if they need an App in addition to having a mobile responsive site.

Let’s take a look at how the leading players in eCommerce answer this question: In the UK, 40 of the top 50 online retailers currently already have their own App, and most of the rest is currently building one.

But how successful are those Apps? Normally, online retailers are reluctant to share too much information with the outside world. However, when it comes to their mobile apps retailers have been quite outspoken, sharing the enormous success of their apps with the outside world.

Amazon reported that half of their users use the Amazon app, concluding that Apps clearly fulfil a customer need. And ASOS Chairman Brian McBride has been surprisingly outspoken about the success of their App in comparison to Asos’ mobile site: At the Global eCommerce Summit in Barcelona last May, he stated that App customers do 50% more transactions than mobile website users. They visit more often, stay longer, and buy more.

Those Amazon customers, those ASOS customers, they’re probably not that different from your user base. In fact, most of your users probably already have downloaded these two Apps. Through the Apps of ASOS and Amazon, your buyers have learned about the convenience of shopping in a Mobile App, and they expect the same flawless user experience from every merchant they shop with.

That’s why we at Redbox Digital can wholeheartedly tell you:

Yes! You definitely need a mobile app as a retailer!

That’s a bold statement, but once you discover below’s 4 advantages apps give online retailers, you’ll find it difficult to disagree. Let’s start by looking at what apps can do for online retailers…

Retailers Need Apps for Superior User Experiences


In e-Commerce, user experience isn’t just another variable that affects conversion and sales. It’s the defining factor that determines how well your store does. Here’s why.

Online buyers are spoiled by choices. There are 250,000 Magento and 200,000 Shopify stores online as of 2017. There’s no reason for a buyer to deal with an e-retailer that makes it difficult and inconvenient to shop.

This is why 40% of all visitors leave a web page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. It’s also why a one-second delay in page load time drops your conversion rate by 7%. (In perspective, that’s $2.5 million lost each year in a business selling $100,000 each day.)

All of this is a problem with desktop-based e-commerce – but it’s a much bigger problem in mobile commerce, where 3 in 4 users report encountering sites that are too slow to load.

The surest way to avoid making the same mistake, disappointing users and losing thousands or millions of dollars in potential sales is to get a native app. Native apps store data on consumers’ devices, minimizing load times and allowing for advanced UX elements.

The bottom line is that 85% of online buyers prefer mobile apps to mobile websites in terms of UX. If you’re serious about winning new customers and retaining old ones, there’s no way around it: you need an app to keep users happy.

You also need an app if you want to maximize mobile conversion.

Retailers Need Apps for a Better Conversion Rate


We’ve just explained why mobile apps are important: they improve user experiences and keep customers from leaving your store.

But what’s the specific difference apps make to your bottom line?

Well, for starters, apps drive 189% more conversions than mobile websites and 50% more conversions than desktop e-stores. This means that merely having an app and driving some traffic to it will boost your profits immediately.

The obvious objection to this is that maintaining a mobile App costs money and resources. However, new platforms like JMango360 (plan a demo here) make it easy to synchronize an m-commerce app with your existing Magento back-end, thus removing financial and other resource barriers.

In addition, Apps solve a major problem in m-commerce: cart abandonment. Usually, 97% of mobile carts end up getting abandoned before a purchase is made. Many users end up coming back and completing the sale via desktop – but some sales are lost in the process.

Mobile apps solve this problem by pushing cart abandonment down to 20%. Needless to say, this improves your conversion rate drastically.

But apps don’t just improve your conversion rate. They also drive plenty of organic traffic to your e-store by affecting your SEO. Here’s how.

Retailers Need Apps to Rank Well with SEO


Most people aren’t aware of this, but the two dominant mobile search engines Google and Apple Spotlight Search now rank app content in addition to website content. This is done via app indexing: a process wherein search engine robots explore your app using deep links.

This means that having an app in addition to your website can potentially double your SEO rating. Thus, with an App you can expect a large influx of additional organic traffic.

Results obtained through App indexing actually are prioritized above regular web results, by both Apple and Google. So without an App, it will become almost impossible to be on page 1 of the mobile search results.

Today, app indexing is available for both Android and iOS apps. Google recently announced that it will even index locked content inside apps, conferring even more SEO benefits to app owners and developers.

Last but not least, let’s talk about why retailers need to get apps even more than other business types…

Retailers Need Apps to Drive User Engagement


Mobile users spend around 10% of their time browsing the internet. That’s not a lot – and it includes news, social media websites and everything else under the sun.

Needless to say, this leaves little time for online shopping. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the same users spend another 10% of their mobile time using e-commerce apps. That’s as much time as they spend browsing the internet as a whole, meaning you can more than double engagement and conversion opportunities by having an app.

Even more impressively, shopping apps are the single most-used app type in terms of monthly activations (17.5 sessions/month). The average visit may not always be very long – but between these frequent visits and Push notification open rates of 50-80% in ecommerce, apps improve user engagement dramatically.

How retailers of any size can launch their own mobile app

Now let’s recap by listing the 4 main advantages apps confer in the e-commerce niche:

1. Improved UX
2. Better SEO results
3. A higher conversion rate and more sales
4. More user engagement

So why is it that so many online stores still don’t have a matching app for their business yet?

The answer is simple:

Until recently, custom-made native e-commerce apps cost at least $100,000 to develop. This is obviously a significant investment for most online retailers. At that price point, getting a mobile app is only viable for online retail giants like Asos, Amazon or John Lewis.

But what most people don’t know is that app software maker Jmango360 won awards for developing a plugin that converts Magento stores into native mobile shopping apps for iOS and Android. Redbox Digital now has a partnership with JMango360, and we can easily help you to create and design a beautiful shopping App. The JMango software is very feature rich. It includes many functionalities and features to meet the high demands of Magento Enterprise merchants, i.e. rich push messages, one-click-checkout, look book, App analytics and stored user ID for fast checkout. In addition, the software allows for flexible and customizable designs, so that your App perfectly reflects your brand, and has the look & feel that your customers love and recognize.

To learn how JMango can turn your store into a beautiful mobile shopping app, please contact us today.