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Conversion rates from mobile commerce remain extremely low when compared with desktop and tablet, as people often prefer to use smartphones for research rather than purchases.

However, I’ve recently come across data which shows that smartphone apps are an exception to this rule, and in fact convert at a rate that’s closer to desktop than the mobile web.

Data from mobile commerce platform Poq Studio shows that in November and December 2013 conversion rates from smartphone apps was 1.8% compared to 2.4% on desktop and 0.73% on the mobile web. 

This is indicative of the fact that mobile apps are generally used by loyal customers, as the data also shows that 78% of apps users were return visitors, compared to 40% on mobile sites.

Furthermore, former ASOS director James Hart previously stated that the company’s apps saw a “much higher” conversion rate than the mobile web.

He put it down to the fact that consumers prefer using mobile apps as they tend to be more user-friendly than the mobile web and more convenient to access.

However they’re not necessarily the right solution for all brands. The first priority is to create a usable mobile site and in reality that will probably suffice for most retailers. Apps are best suited to businesses that have loyal customer base otherwise it’s likely that the platform will be unused and a waste of resources.

With that in mind, here are a few examples of excellent retail apps that cater perfectly to loyal customers. I’d like to point out that these are all on Android, as I’ve got a Samsung smartphone...

ASOS

As mentioned, ASOS’s mobile apps achieve a “much higher” conversion rate than the mobile web, though that doesn’t mean that the apps drive more revenue.

I’ve confessed my love for ASOS in numerous blog posts so won’t bore you with it here, but for more read my review of the retailer’s Android app. The most useful feature for repeat customers is that you only need a username, password and the three digits off the back of your credit card to make a purchase.

                      

Amazon

It’s a bit easy to include Amazon on this list, but then I’d be silly to leave it off as it is such a brilliant app.

The simplicity, range of products, personalisation and one-click payment process makes it a joy to use. For more read my post looking at 12 reasons behind Amazon’s massive mobile success.

                      

Marks & Spencer

M&S recently revamped its website and mobile apps as part of a move to bring its multichannel strategy up to speed, as discussed by our own Ben Davis.

There are still a few issues at the checkout stage of the retailer’s Android app, such as forced registration and small CTAs, but overall I’m a fan as it’s quick and easy to navigate with well-designed product pages, which makes purchasing items very simple.

                      

Dominos

Okay, so it’s not technically a retailer but Dominos is a prime example of how to design a usable, successful mobile app.

Dominos was an early adopter of mobile commerce and as a result it gained a huge advantage on its competitors. The app has a simple interface that makes it super easy to find special offers, customise a pizza and ultimately place your order. Once you’ve signed up to the app repeat orders can be completed in seconds.

                      

In 2012 Dominos reported that it made $2bn globally from digital sales which accounted for around 30% of its revenue. In Q1 2013 this had risen to around 35%, with the company’s CEO predicting that it would rise to more than 50% within a few years.

H&M

When I reviewed H&M’s app last year I found a number of flaws with the checkout process, such as forced registration, a vague delivery window and hidden delivery costs. 

However I also really love the navigation and product pages, which have a simple layout, big CTAs and massive images.

The checkout issues aside, it’s one of the best looking retail apps I’ve seen and it’s certainly encouraged me to make a few repeat purchases in recent months.

                      

Target

Target has crammed a huge amount of functions into its mobile app, so it could be argued that it would benefit from being more focused on fewer core functions.

But in spite of the broad functionality the app doesn’t seem cluttered and is very user-friendly. The product pages contain a huge amount of useful information and I like the way that users are directed to the checkout immediately after adding something to their shopping bag, as it helps to reduce the chances of checkout abandonment.

That said, I do think it might benefit from changing the colour of the CTAs as the interface is very red at the moment.

                      

Zara

If you ignore the poor home screen and fiddly search function there’s much to like about Zara’s mobile app.

It uses a black and white colour scheme so the category screens have a clean design that also benefits from large images.

                      

The product pages have a similarly uncluttered layout with a huge range of images that swipe up and down instead of left to right and just two CTAs. The process of adding an item to your bag is extremely intuitive, though it doesn’t follow the traditional rules of mobile commerce. You first select ‘Add’, then choose the size, before a black ‘Buy’ CTA appears.

Zara has also created a usable checkout with fields large enough for even the fattest thumbs, making the overall buying process very simple and enjoyable.

Asda

There are a few UX issues with Asda’s app, but it also has one or two features that I really like.

Firstly the home screen tells you the cost of fuel at your local store, which is a really neat touch considering that Asda is cheaper than most petrol stations, and the shopping list tool is also very user-friendly, allowing users to add products from any device and tick off items as they go round the store.

                      

But the most useful feature for loyal customers is the 'Price Guarantee' tool that allows shoppers to check prices and request a refund if Asda isn't 10% cheaper than its rivals.

Walmart

There’s much to like about Walmart’s mobile app, though the huge CTAs and guest checkout are two of the most noteworthy features.

We’ve discussed mobile CTA design on the blog before, but the basic rules are to make sure they’re large and surrounded by white space to avoid accidental clicks.

Walmart's app also has simple navigation and well-designed product pages that make it more likely that customers will come back for more.

                      

David Moth

Published 3 March, 2014 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1676 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Simon Dunant

Simon Dunant, Owner at NewRise Digital

For bigger brands I think the consumer almost expects an app, and user experience is absolutely key. Also purchasing experience expectation is important, when you're ordering something from Amazon you're comfortable with it being a web only shop so you're more likely to convert on an Amazon App rather than H&M's app which will likely be for research only with an in store purchase so it's hard to really compare the apps properly in this report.

For smaller businesses it may make more sense to focus on a mobile optimized website to get into the mobile game early rather than invest in an app that might not give them an immediate ROI. Leaving users with just a unoptimized desktop version of your site on mobile will definitely hurt your sales for both conversion and user experience. You can no longer ignore mobile it's got too firm a grip on consumers...

about 2 years ago

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Tony Richardson

"Data from mobile commerce platform Poq Studio shows that in November and December 2013 conversion rates from smartphone apps was 1.8% compared to 2.4% on desktop and 0.73% on the mobile web" <<<< What a load of baloney. 2.4% from how many number of users? 50 people ?

How do you measure conversion rates on apps? Number of times an app is opened?

An app is another liability, I'm focusing on building from within and sticking to mobile responsive site. It works across ALL devices.

about 2 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

Tony, thanks for your comments. You'll notice that ASOS also achieves a higher conversion rate from its apps compared to the mobile web. And besides, it's not a straight choice between having a responsive site or an app - you can have either or both if that's what works for your customer base.

about 2 years ago

Neha Mallik

Neha Mallik, Content Producer at Mobstac

Great post David. Some great insights there! According to the fifth annual survey report from Cisco, relevance, efficiency and engagement are the top features customers want in retail apps. With 55% of shoppers using retail apps while in-store, it's critical that retailers plan and execute apps with these key features in place. What are some striking features retail apps offer these days, and which brands are making the 'cut' with their retail apps? Here's a nice post that talks about these: http://blog.beaconstac.com/2015/06/retail-app-trends-4-new-features-your-app-needs-right-now/

12 months ago

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