Mobile application technology is a powerful lever for the growth of online business. This has specially been the case with the retail industries. Some of the most established businesses in retail have harnessed mobile applications development and web application development to create business models with high returns on investment, on-demand delivery and finally customer delight. This has given way to the preconceived notion that mobile application development has aided online retailers while pricking thorns in the feet of brick and mortar retailers. Conventional wisdom suggests that with the advent of e-commerce, footfalls in shops have been decreasing. This however is a myth. While online shopping has caught up speed, web portals do not exhibit the entire range of products and hence in a way limit the freedom of choice of consumers. Thus there exists a case for the tech savvy consumer researching a sample size of the product range displayed online and then returning to the brick and mortar store to make the purchase. In this article we take a close look at the brighter side of how mobile app development services are bolstering the businesses of brick and mortar retailers and allowing them to make the most of the retail boom.
Mobile App Development and Data Driven Retailing
A recent study report that appeared in the Harvard Business Review by Christopher Tunnard and Bhaskar Chkarvarti claims that countries across the world can be classified into four groups, namely stand out, stall out, break out and watch out. Break out countries according to their study are characterized by the following macro level features:
- Have the potential to develop strong digital economies
- Have a low overall score owing to lack of corporate culture
- Are growing rapidly and poised to be stand out countries in the future
While these macroeconomic data may sound good, micro economic data needs to be diagnosed to make business sense of technology. The business research firm Forrester has estimated that up to $70 billion of sales will be aided by the web within the next three years. The point though is that retail industry has always been characterized by a high obsession with return on investment. At the ground level, corporate enterprises and even startups in retail are less than motivated to embrace digital initiatives like a web application or app development unless there is hard data to convince them of the conversion of visitors and leads into sales. The biggest challenge for retailers and application development service providers then is to understand the dynamics of conversion.
Niffler, a loyalty program app has till date seen 50,000 downloads. Users use the Niffler code at the point of sale and that data is captured to assess sales conversions. Most retailers belonging to the small and medium business (SMB) category do not have the technology and skilled manpower at the back-end to figure out the conversion rates implying a hesitance in embracing technology. This challenge necessitates application development companies to respond to the challenge with not just technical expertise but business consulting backed by web, mobile and social analytics. Measurement of key result areas across different platforms like web application, social application and mobile apps can enable enterprises to observe results and develop a direction to embrace digital initiatives.
A three pronged approach as suggested above shall lay an equal emphasis on each of the components to create a fully integrated digital strategy for retailers to analyze the metrics of traffic and conversion and develop applications for the concerned platform. While proxies discussed above make some approximation, innovation in combing the three aspects at cost-effective levels would cement a concrete model of digital business. Brick and mortar retailers when equipped with digital artillery can create multiple access points for the consumer to educate himself on not only product range but also on prices, promotional offerings, discounts, loyalty tokens and brand value. Moreover the data generated from web applications, mobile apps and social networks can be analyzed to better understand demand patterns and thus pave the way for an on-demand model.