Gone is mobile 101; now brands and retailers alike need to use the insight available to them from the analysis of their digital platforms in order to drive their multichannel engagement strategy and keep customers coming back for more. 

With 92.88bn free mobile apps downloads and over 75bn downloads of apps from the Apple App store each month, it is no surprise that the app has become a popular talking point of multichannel brand communication and commerce. For many brands, apps continue to form a key element in the spectrum of digital channels and consumer interaction.

But in today’s digital communication evolution, before a brand starts to think about developing an app, they need to ask themselves, what is its purpose? Will it benefit the brand? Will it be effective? And will it give the consumer what they want and expect?

To answer this question a brand needs to formulate a clear digital brand strategy that incorporates not just apps, but also each point of consumer engagement including web and social, and one that provides the dual role of working for your consumers whilst meeting your business goals. Without this a brand cannot articulate the role and purpose of each consumer touchpoint and therefore cannot deliver a strategic and consistent communication or commerce experience.

It is now widely accepted mobile and specifically mobile apps have a pivotal role in brand communication and ecommerce. With mobile commerce growing an enormous 3,400% in four years and fashion shoppers spending more via mobile than desktop already, there has been a paradigm shift in the importance of mobile for brands and retailers alike.

More importantly however is the need to recognise this is not just a simple substitution of revenue from desktop to mobile, it is actually fuelling growth of sales, new customers, and is fundamentally a cornerstone of linking physical and digital worlds and ultimately business growth.

This combination of factors means brands need to think hard about how they move forward with mobile apps. Many have apps already, some more than one, however how can they evolve and stand the test of time?

As we now see with the maturing consumer experience on mobile websites, a move to slick menus and engaging rich content, we predict and already see signs of this evolution of their native app counterpart. Coming to an end are the days when brands and retailers in particular can follow a mobile-101 approach, through simply using white label apps to keep up with the times and nail on to their digital offering.

Consumers have evidentially shifted to mobile in the past 18 months, and brands need to think less of the ecommerce versus mcommerce argument and more about contextual one-to-one consumer engagement and commerce; we are now in the me-commerce era. Through apps, any Brand can have a highly informed personalised conversation with the consumer so they need to make it so as consumers expect this

Today’s tech-savvy consumer is needy, demanding, outspoken and has higher expectations than ever. They wish for a level of premiumness; simply offering up a native app experience of their mobile website does not fulfil this expectation.

With studies indicating 80% of consumers ‘mobile time’ spent on apps and with only 37% of apps remaining on a consumers phone from one year to the next providing an app that offers no value above a mobile website is now not enough to drive growth through the mobile app channel.

Consumers expect apps to push boundaries, inspire and offer something unexpected or useful to make their everyday lives simpler. If brands don’t deliver, the app won’t remain on the consumers phone and worse they simply won’t keep them as a customer.

The concept of me-commerce focuses on putting the consumer interest at the heart of the app, having the one-to-one, personal conversation. It’s an emotion first, conversion second ethos that targets not the entire consumer base of a Brand, but primarily those who are receptive and loyal to the Brand. For sure keep the monetisation commerce element wherever possible, but take the consumer on a different, more special journey. In this way a brands' app will stand the test of time enabling the forging of long-term consumer relationships and will ultimately fuel long-term business growth.

Achieving this requires more than opting for the generic me too style apps of the past and present; savvy and progressive brands need to reflect on the personal communication style that can be achieved through an app, and deliver content and functionality that reflects what the consumer wants at a certain situation and time. Providing this contextualisation, playfulness and continued usefulness is sure to guarantee longevity of the app on the consumers phone.

Gucci’s Style app is a great example of a Brand taking a content driven approach to ecommerce. The app is a “shoppable” magazine combining fashion, editorial, music, geo-location tips, interactive videos, and social media. Video content includes the Pre-Fall Collection, top picks from Frida Giannini, Creative Director of Gucci, as well as promos for the launch of Gucci Children’s Collection: Playground and the Special Edition Gucci Fiat 500 customised car.

As good as this app is, there is still a need for more of a personal touch and whilst it’s a good example, it also represents how brands aren’t quite getting the balance right between commerce and content.

We are beginning to see that effective mobile ‘me-commerce’ apps boost business and strengthen a Brands reputation. Rather than developing staid, non-differentiating applications, brands need to excite their consumers, make them fall in love and continue to spend more over long period of time. Brands with less effective digital and mobile strategies are putting both their consumer communication and business at risk.


By Julian Douch and Paulo Bernini of Open Reply. 

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