With a recent Forrester research report stating that mobile commerce in the U.S is expected to hit $114 billion by the end of 2014, the future of mobile commerce apps has never looked brighter. Today, mobile has become the primary screen for content consumption, advertising, and shopping causing brands to embrace mobile as a key medium that not only drives sales but also redefines customer engagement across their virtual and brick-and-mortar stores.
Here are eight mobile commerce apps that are helping brands hit the right note: letting brands connect better with their customers and making purchasing easier than ever before.
1. eBay app
Consumers, these days, are increasingly glued to their mobile devices, ever more ready and willing to engage in shopping. Leading online marketplace, eBay cashed in on this impulsive trend by creating auctions, allowing users to bid on time-sensitive auctions from anywhere, anytime.
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To enhance the thrill around finding hard-to-locate items, the brand then streamlined the search and discovery process in the app by letting users type in the name of the product, product category, or any search term that’s related to what they are searching for, and view all related results displayed on the phone’s screen.
They even organized the app around personalized feeds by letting users drag and rearrange items and command buttons on the Home screen based on what users need, want and love. For example, if a user participates in a number of auctions all at once, he/she can choose to display the current status of all items that they have bid on the Home Screen. Additionally, the app also allows users to gain quick access to critical information by placing large, color-coded navigation buttons that are labeled Watching, Buying, and Selling on the Home screen.
Further, by linking a user’s eBay account to their PayPal account, the brand reduces friction towards mobile payments by allowing users to complete their purchases in a few taps with minimal data entry.
2. Walmart app
According to a recent study by Xtreme Labs, 58 percent of smartphone owners use mobile for in-store shopping and are 14 percent more likely than non-smartphone shoppers to decide on purchasing in-store. Walmart used this to their advantage by strongly centering their mobile efforts around providing an improved in-store experience.
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The retail brand recently added mobile coupons to boost their ‘Scan and Go’ self checkout program. The feature lets shoppers use the Walmart app on their phones to scan items and add them to a virtual shopping cart as they continue to walk through the store. Once done, the shoppers can pay at a self-checkout counter rather than having to wait in long queues to scan their items individually at the checkout lane.
Further, they even added a layer of convenience by adding a store locator feature that allows users to order their groceries online and then pick them up at a nearby store – without having to set foot inside the store. The feature uses the GPS information from the customer’s phone to determine the nearest store. The main advantage here is the fact that it lets customers fulfill their immediate needs and also avoid shipping costs.
The retail brand also partnered with certain apps to provide their customers with gamified deals and offers that in turn enhanced their in-store footfall. Jingit is one such app that rewards shoppers for scanning specific product barcodes and visiting certain Walmart stores branches.
3. Amazon app
Amazon is one of those companies that has often been in the talks for their customer-focused mobile experience. For example, with a blend of seamless one-click payments, intuitive navigation, and data-driven recommendations, it is no surprise that Amazon is reported to have more mobile-only users than Facebook in the U.S, according to a recent Business Insider study.
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The online retail giant sidled its way into the daily deals space with the launch of AmazonLocal, an app that allows users to buy vouchers and secure special offers powered by other companies like LivingSocial. The app uses the location of the user to find offers on goods and services from local businesses in their area. Shoppers can even redeem these deals straight from their device without having to deal with actual vouchers.
Moreover, the brand also made efforts to personalize their offerings by implementing a loyalty program named Amazon Prime. It was aimed to solve one of the primary pain points of an online shopper – delivery. For $79 annually, members of the online retail giant’s Prime program get a free two-day shipping with no minimum purchase.
4. Starbucks app
Today, simple and intuitive mobile payment experiences play a very crucial role in driving transactions. Infact, when leveraged right, an app can increase both transaction volume and total earnings. Having accounted for more than five million transactions per week, Starbucks is an app that recently topped the charts as one of the most used digital payment app in America.
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To get started with it, customers just have to type-in their registered Starbucks Rewards Card’s information into the app, to transfer the balance to their phone. They can even set up automatic reloads to ensure that their virtual card is never empty. With all that done, a customer just has to hold the phone up to a digital scanner to make a payment at the counter.
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In addition to these practical features, the app also lets customers keep track of their favorite drinks, monitor their status in Starbucks’ rewards program. The app aims to make for a more pleasant shopping experience by offering them discounts such as free shots, refills etc every time they reach a certain number of stars.
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In a recent effort to make their mobile payment experience better, they have enabled digital tipping, allowing customers to tip their server through the app. The app also includes a ‘Shake to Pay’ option allowing customers to shake their phones while inside the app to immediately bring up the required barcode for mobile payment.
5. CVS Caremark
According to the 2013 report by Xtremelabs, drugstore chain, CVS Caremark was ranked among the top five retail mobile apps. The key to the strong performance behind this app lies in the fact that it provides users with immediate actual utility.
The app has functionalities that allow users to manage their pharmacy prescriptions such as fill out rapid refills, find deals on products, and place orders that they can then pick up at their local store. The refill feature, for example is a brilliant example of an enhanced in-store experience which can turn potential customers into regular ones that feel more confident about shopping.
6. Q app
While many digital merchants and digital wallet providers in the U.S are still facing a number of challenges at integrating order-ahead capabilities into their own branded app, Q app has already begun to see a positive impact on both customer experience and venue operations by creating a larger ecosystem around order-ahead. This strong consumer appeal comes from the fact the app allows users to order-ahead for different types of venues right from pubs to stadiums, concerts and theatres.
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Q app helps brands increase the number of orders processed by enabling customers to browse the menu, create an order and pay for food and drink from their phones using Q App, thus putting an end to the long queues to place orders. Once the order is ready, customers will receive an alert on their phone and can then go to the dedicated Q App area and pick it up after showing the unique code on their phone to the staff.
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Further the app even saves past orders, allowing users to easily re-order in just one click. Q App is now working at a number of venues including The Palace Theatre, Royal Albert Hall, The Queens Tennis Club and a number of other bars, pubs, coffee shops and fast food outlets.
7. Cover app
This app lets restaurant goers eliminate wait-time after meal, by allowing them to easily pay for their meals through Cover. The app provides a convenient service that processes payments at often an equal or smaller cut than the market rate. Other incentives provided by Cover to restaurants include a faster table turn-over as the app helps diners to leave more quickly after having finished a meal.
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Once a user sets up an account with Cover, he can check in at any of the participating restaurants, open the app to create a table or join an existing one, set a tip percentage and then notify the server that he will be paying with Cover. That way, once done with the meal, the diner can simply walk away without having to wait for the check. Additionally, the app also includes support for splitting checks among diners.
8. Neiman Marcus app
Department store chain, Neiman Marcus recently released an app to facilitate communication between stores and customers. The app comes with two interfaces: one for customers and the other for sales associates at the store. It allows customers to browse event schedules and view upcoming promotions. As they browse through, the app allows shoppers to choose their favorite products and even ask for them to be placed in a dressing room ahead of their arrival at the store.
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Further, the app also allows customers to search by department to locate or contact sales associates at any Neiman Marcus store via mail, phone or FaceTime . Shoppers can also use the built-in QR code reader to scan signage and read up on trends and product information displayed in-store.
Thus today mobile commerce is beginning to drive a whole new level of customer engagement for brands. Going by the trend, as the capabilities of mobile commerce enhance over the next couple of years, brands that prioritize a strong mobile presence will rule the marketplace.