Optimize Your Shopping App for Peak Season: 3 Tips from JCPenney
Mobile as a channel is growing in importance for the retail industry. According to Forrester, nearly all smartphone users—4 in 5—use shopping apps. And most of those who do use them really frequently—1 in 3 use them always or often. To help retailers prepare for the busiest (mobile) shopping season of the year, we hosted a webinar with James Meeks, JCPenney’s Head of Mobile Product.
James shared how consumers use mobile apps and, more importantly, how retailers can improve their app before the code freeze to drive more revenue during the holidays. In this post, we recap three top takeaways from the webinar.
Prefer to watch instead of read? Watch the full recording of the webinar here.
Step 1: Create a seamless customer experience
A great customer experience (CX) is becoming a requirement for consumers, not a luxury. Perhaps that’s why 84% of companies aspire to be leaders in CX. The key word being “aspire,” because the reality is much different: only one in five companies deliver a good or great CX, according to Forrester Research.
Those who aren’t investing in creating omnichannel customer experiences are losing potential revenue by turning potential customers off. Forrester found that customers are willing to pay nearly five times as much for a great customer experience versus a poor experience. The real kicker? Customer experience innovators outpace companies with poor experiences by over 500%.
A great customer experience must be omnichannel
Even if your app isn’t a money making machine, it can still be a revenue generator indirectly. As many of you might already know, customers use retail apps to browse your selection before deciding what to buy. This is actually a way for customers to save time, because they can browse from the convenience of their homes instead of spending time driving to the store, walking around, only to be disappointed that they can’t find what they’re looking for. The key here is to make it easy for customers to find what they want to buy in your app, and allow them to easily pick it up in-store.
JCPenney has made their customers’ lives easier by building a pick-up-in-store option so customers don’t have to go searching for what they found online. They can search for the store closest to them who have the item they’re looking for, buy directly in the app, and pick it up the same day with no extra charge.
Create new experiences
Another way to create a customer experience that gets people excited to shop is through creative avenues that are new and exciting. Take the new feature that JCPenney introduced, for example, that highlights favorite products through brand videos. If customers like what they see, they can just swipe up to add the product to their cart. Customers who are looking for a more interactive way to shop love this feature.
This is just one way to build a robust customer experience that keeps customers engaged throughout the holidays. However, to really create a customer experience that’s top-shelf, you have to understand what customers want from your app. And to do this, you must ask for customer feedback.
Step 2: Ask for customer feedback
Customer feedback is the why behind the what. With most data, you can see that something is happening—a certain region’s sales are going up or down, for example—but that data doesn’t tell you why it’s happening. But, customers can tell you why, you just have to ask.
It’s important to ask for customer feedback proactively, instead of only relying on passive feedback. By proactively asking customers for their feedback, you are able to active the people who are usually in the silent majority. The silent customers are who you really want to hear from, because you never know how they feel and without knowing how they feel, you’ll struggle to get them to take action.
In a joint survey Apptentive did with SurveyMonkey, we found a majority of consumers (64%) actually expect companies to reach out to them to ask them for feedback directly. Not only that, but almost all of the consumers (98%) were willing to leave feedback if they could do so directly in the app.
Customers expect you to reach out proactively, and when you do, they reward you. We’ve found that people who are interacted with in-app are 4 times as likely to continue using the app three months later. For retailers, this translates into real dollars.
In addition to proactively asking customers for feedback, retailers can improve their customers’ experience and encourage them to take action by sending them contextually relevant messages. For instance, retailers can apologize if there is a known bug and tell customers they’re fixing it, alert customers when the last day to buy to make sure items arrive by the holidays, tell them about a new wish list feature, and more.
Not all communication will be proactive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful. Capturing passive feedback is table stakes. If customers aren’t happy, and you don’t make it easy for them to leave you feedback, their feedback will end up on public forums like the app stores and social media. To capture as much feedback as possible and discourage public gripes, install a listening tool in your app to give customers a convenient way to give you feedback without having to leave the app. This can help you quickly solve problems for customers and help prevent them from heading to a competitor.
Step 3: Reduce friction in the path to purchase
Mobile purchases are on the rise. A Facebook IQ study found 45% of shopping trips include some mobile shopping. Apptentive’s data shows that 54% of people who use retail apps, made a purchase in the last month. By reducing friction in the purchasing process before the holidays, retailers will drive more transactions.
Build functional search
It may seem obvious, but having a hyper-functional search built into your app is the first step towards removing friction in the purchasing process. Customers open retail apps with a purpose; they’re looking for something specific, or they’re just interested in browsing. A dismal search experience can lead to churn and a loss of revenue. If customers can’t easily find what they came for, they’ll likely go looking somewhere else for it out of frustration.
These days, it may seem like everyone has searched figured out, but that’s not quite the case. According to a study by RichRelevance, 35% of shoppers say they’re unsatisfied with search results on mobile. Even more telling is the fact that 38% of shoppers complained they receive worse search results when shopping on their mobile device than they do on their laptop or desktop. This is a relatively straightforward fix that’s sort of a two-for-one—it will not only reduce friction, it will also improve the customer experience. Don’t underestimate the power of search.
Streamline the checkout process
Streamlining the checkout process is another smart way to remove friction in the path to purchase. One way to do this is by offering a mobile wallet. Mobile wallets makes checkouts faster and easier for customers because they don’t have to pull out their gift cards, loyalty cards, and coupons each time they want to buy something.
The holiday code freeze is almost here, but there’s still time to optimize your shopping app to drive more sales. Three steps retailers’ can take to make their app a hit with consumers include: reducing the path to purchase, making the lives of customers more convenient, and creating a seamless omnichannel customer experience.
It’s important to note, that none of this is possible if you don’t listen to your customers! The success of your app is directly tied to how in-tuned you are to your customers wants and needs, and that’s not possible if you’re not listening.