It is true that digital transformation in retail is huge. But sadly, a Forrester analysis claims that retailers even today largely perceive digital innovation more about transactions. However, the truth is, retail engagement is a lot more than that. In fact, it is the omni channel experience that is disrupting the entire scenario. We are standing at a time where the integrated Phygital ecosystem is the call of the hour.
It is reported that 54% millennials use shopping apps as they find it more convenient. But that does not mean shopping from brick and mortar stores have become obsolete. On the contrary, quite a considerable proportion of this population preferred perusing items in a physical store. Hence, brands need to take the shopping experience seriously across all channels to have a competitive edge.
Recent Trends in Mobile Shopping
The mobile shoppers today are research driven. Before they make purchase, they prefer rummaging through mobile sites and shopping apps to strike the best product, reviews, and deals. For them, the shopping platform hardly matters; it is more about the experience and meeting of their unique needs.
Apps can give a better shopping experience
It is a prevalent belief that apps can be the best way to engage customers. But recent Google Research says 87% of customers claim that they can be loyal to a brand without downloading the app on their smartphones. Similarly, 53% say that they do not have their favorite brands installed on their mobile phones.
What could be the reason? Is it lack of awareness and low consideration that is preventing people from downloading a brand’s app? Here comes in the role of the brands. They should never assume that people will automatically download their app nor should they force them to do so. Rather they should educate people on the unique benefits of their app. Nevertheless, it is always important to strike the right balance. A key to success is to pass on real-time recommendations to customers at the right time.
Mobile sites offer better shopping insights
Many shoppers are of the opinion that they achieve the same goal in a brand’s mobile site as they do on its app. In fact, research says that people often shift to mobile sites from an app while shopping or browsing. This primarily happens when:
- They directly want to navigate to the source
- They find the mobile sites more convenient or
- They want to broaden the spectrum of their search
Mobile site experience builds a brand image
Statistics, say that consumers perceive poorly of a brand when a mobile site does not load or is slow to navigate. Consumer might leave a brand for good in case they do not have a rich online experience. When a mobile site fails to meet expectations, it causes long term brand damage.
So what could be the solution to amplify the whole shopping experience? Both mobile sites and apps provide specific benefits to customers. Hence, the need of the hour is to extract synergies from both and offer a seamless and consistent experience for shoppers and retailers alike.
A solution that combines the advantages of app and web can magically accelerate revenue. Progressive Web Applications (PWA) is one such intrusion into the retail world. To be precise, PWAs are mobile apps delivered through web.
Some of the major advantages of Progressive Web Apps are the following:
- Non device specific – seamless function across desktop, tablet, or mobile
- Ability to work with limited or no data and hence can be accessed anytime from anywhere
- No updates required to app
- High user engagement as they offer push notifications on the go
- High-end safety features ensuring that no-one can tamper with the app without proper authorization
- No complex installation – no app store and can be kept on home screen and shared through links
PWAs are in fact the best examples of amalgamation of technology, designs, and Web Apps that works in harmony with one another to offer an app like experience on the mobile web. The most noteworthy feature is that they work for every user irrespective of the platform, location, or network because they have been built with progressive enhancements.
Statistics say that PWAs
- can increase 68% mobile traffic
- are 15 times faster to load and install
- require 25 times lesser device storage
- have often increased engagement to 137%
Hence, you can well understand as to why large number of brands is moving from native mobile apps to PWAs.
However, even with all these disruptions physical retail is not yet dead, rather boring retail is. It is true that store-closures have hit an all-time high in 2017. Nonetheless, the fact that a lot of new stores have been opened cannot be overlooked. It is predicted, by 2019, 90% retail will happen out of physical stores.
Source: KPMG Research
New Trends in Retail
An eBay study shows that many customers begin experiencing a brand online and end up making the final transaction in the physical store. Retailers have become aware of the fact that shopping experience does not happen at one point in time. Rather, it is the “phygital experience”, which is gaining momentum, whereby views are shaped over a compilation of interactions on different touch points like navigation on a website, suggestion from a friend, social media engagement, interaction with a sales representative, in-store convenience and so on.
Brands should understand that going phygital is a way to facilitate an enhanced shopping experience on both digital and physical channels. As per Forrester analysis, an empowered customer places elevated expectations on each interaction that they have with the brand.
Consumers seek higher levels of engagement, instant gratification, immediacy, personalization, accessibility, and authenticity. The brands, which will cater to such requirement, will stand out in the days to come.