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Here’s how mobile apps are making shopping easier

Smartphones and tablets cater to a dynamic, cross-media lifestyle. Around 65% of tablet owners use their device while watching TV and 41% use both smartphones and tablets simultaneously at least once a day, according to a 2014 Mobile Behavior Report. The consumer’s mobile time has changed marketing as we know it. An integrated, omni-channel marketing approach is what brands now need to adopt to provide the much-desired seamless shopping experience to consumers.

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Mobile devices have been shaping the way consumers interact with businesses for a long time now. They have been answering buyers’ demand for constant information successfully while allowing them to stay connected and interact with their peers, brands, competitors and market influencers for better purchase decisions. Initially, SMS and push messages encouraged people to embrace the concept of on-the-go shopping. And then apps totally changed the way consumers interact with businesses.

“The most useful apps for brands are those that support communication between the brand and consumers.”
– Scott Seaborn (Head of Mobile Technologies at Ogilvy Group)

Mobile app technology is turning people into smart shoppers. The unprecedented growth in the number, adoption and usage of mobile apps is a pretty good signal to brands that they constitute one of the primary channels to reach out to a target audience.

Consider the following chart:

This chart from the 2014 Mobile Behavior Report discussed earlier tracks mobile traffic for some popular sites. There are two important pieces of data to consider here:

  • A number of mobile users prefer consuming content using a mobile app; the only exceptions are Amazon and Twitter.
  • Visitors to Groupon, a popular deal-of-the-day website, are more inclined (86 percent of them) to use the app to access on-the-go shopping deals.

There is widespread acceptance of mobile apps for shopping; consumers are developing a distinct set of preferences and habits that brands need to take into account when planning marketing campaigns. Though social networking and gaming remain the top app choices for users, mobile shopping apps are catching up fast. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that large brands are creating bespoke apps to support their marketing campaigns.

Read more: 7 African countries with booming ecommerce markets

Different mobile apps might have different goals, but at the core they are all designed to serve one basic purpose – to make the buying experience easier and seamless for the shoppers. How can they do that?

Finding Deals

Around 86% of Groupon’s visitors are using their mobile app to view and get deals on the site. Further, 55% of their total sales are completed using mobile devices. LivingSocial is a similar example.

This implies that buyers who shop with smartphones are looking for ways to purchase products and services at cheaper rates. They want a single platform to check availability of products as well as view special promotions and discounts.
Mobile apps are proving critical in helping businesses extend their market reach and rack up sales by exploiting the urgency factor with here today gone tomorrow deals.


Barcode-scanning apps have taken showrooming to a whole new level.

Shoppers can search for better deals online using apps such as RedLaser while shopping in-store. This free shopping and barcode-scanning app allows in-store visitors to scan the barcode of an item and compare prices online through their mobile devices. Buyers can check for lowest prices from both online retailers and their local supermarket. The app also allows shoppers to save and track their favorite products and stores, digitally manage loyalty cards, receive push messages for special deals, and purchase items.

Retailers too can leverage this app. All they need to do is set up their own profile pages in RedLaser, and this app will send shoppers circulars and special deals on a regular basis in one convenient place.
Google Shopper is another popular app that allows consumers to access information such as product details, prices, reviews and videos. In addition to barcode, this app can also recognize items via voice and text search.

Making Payments

Shoppers find payment methods via mobile device more convenient. A report from WorldPay suggests that 43% of online transactions are made through alternative payments.

Many companies including PayPal and FlyPay are creating technology to help consumers make alternative payments in both online and offline stores. Bitcoin has emerged as another widely-accepted standard. Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify have already made mobile payments using bitcoin an everyday feature of their POS systems.

Read more: Can i-Pay boost SA’s ecommerce by making EFTs cool?

Square Wallet is an app that allows you to go wallet-less, and pay using your name and a selfie. Pounce is another one that enables convenient mobile payments using the power of image recognition. It allows shoppers to take a picture of a product from print materials and buy the item directly from the retailer. Pounce saves contact and shipping address along with credit card information, so buyers need to input their details just once.

To Wrap Up

The scope of shopping for both customers and retailers with mobile apps is endless. From branding awareness to generating more sales, apps are now integral parts of marketing strategies for a multitude of brands, large and small. The secret of mobile apps’ success lies in their ability to create an interactive and more personal experience with consumers, while keeping pace with their shopping habits and preferences. A challenging easily accomplished!

Image via the 2014 Mobile Behavior Report by Exact Target

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