The Retail Apocalypse: How to Avoid It with a Mobile App

Dave Bell
Dave Bell
Guest Contributor

The future of retail is increasingly mobile, and if retailers want to avoid the cold hands of the retail apocalypse, they need to combat it by developing their own mobile strategies.

Supply and demand is an incessant cycle that has led to the massive explosion of mobile commerce. However, the rise of m-commerce unearthed retail’s worst nightmare: the “retail apocalypse,” a popular term coined by countless publications.

The retail apocalypse essentially means that once-thriving brands shrank their retail footprint to remain profitable. This destined thousands of chains to shut their doors on anywhere from a few dozen to thousands of stores. Major chains such as Starbucks, Abercrombie & Fitch, and even CVS have been hit hard by the retail apocalypse.

While companies have tried reducing their retail footprint to an optimal amount, many are finding success through delivering a seamless shopping experience by blending physical and mobile retail. These companies still have their traditional brick-and-mortar stores, but have found solid footing amid the retail apocalypse by growing their online presence and venturing further into the mobile space by developing an app.

Apple was one of the first to realize that supplying consumers with apps of their favorite retailers led to an added boom in revenue to m-commerce. They recognized that m-commerce was rapidly growing and even dedicated a whole category of their App Store to “Shopping” in 2015.

As the retail apocalypse continues to consume whole companies alive, the only realistic option retailers have is to venture into the app ecosystem and create a retail app to improve their bottom line.

The Current Mobile Retail Market

The current retail market is booming and growing at an exponential rate. Currently, it’s projected that m-commerce will account for over 45 percent of all e-commerce by 2020. As it stands currently, roughly 62 percent of smartphone users have made at least one online purchase in the last six months.

If we apply this concept to Black Friday 2017, it explains why consumers spent $5.03 billion online. Most of these purchases were made on mobile devices, which totaled to a record of 36.9 percent.

Looking toward the future of the retail market, it only makes sense why retailers need to start developing mobile apps to account for their reduced retail footprint.

Things to Consider Before Going Mobile

Every retailer wants to interact with their consumers in an effort to improve their revenue and stay afloat. After setting an explicit budget, retailers can take advantage of App Store Optimization (ASO) along with a simultaneous marketing campaign that incorporates external efforts to boost impressions.

1 – Creating a budget

Budgeting is nothing new to retailers as they are constantly weighing the costs of production, retail space, online shipping fees and more. If retailers were to set aside the time to create a budget for their mobile app, they would be able to allocate costs for developing and marketing their app.

This budget could also be used on ASO efforts to drive more visibility to the App Store and Google Play Store, or even to market the app via social media and paid campaigns.

2 – App Store Optimization

Since the mobile retail space is constantly expanding, there is an impressive amount of competition and many retailers have to fight for visibility. Consumers won’t download an app unless they either:

  • Are looking for a specific brand or store
  • Are aware of the app’s existence

Retailers need to step into the shoes of an app developer and utilize ASO to optimize their app’s metadata (app name, keywords, description, and creatives) so their app becomes known.

It’s key that retailers pay attention to the needs and wants (i.e. user trends and behavior) of their consumers to maximize their app’s reach in the apps stores. This is the only way that retailers will be able to quickly drive visibility to their app.

3 – Marketing Strategy

Mobile App Marketing strategies vary from display advertisements on social media platforms like Facebook (audience can be defined through demographics, geo-targeting and much more) to leveraging paid search channels such as Apple Search Ads and/or Google UAC. By taking advantage of these paid campaigns, retailers can monitor their installs based on cost per tap (CPT) and cost per install (CPI). Any of these advertising platforms can drive in brand awareness, boost rankings and increase conversions for apps.

When setting up your marketing strategy, consider allocating a portion of the budget to enlist the help of mobile app marketing agencies to assist in the user acquisition efforts.

Additionally, use your social platforms to promote and let your followers know about your retail app. There’s no better advertisement than word-of-mouth. Don’t forget to reach out and establish relationships with websites, online journals or blogs that already have established audiences to further your marketing efforts.

Make the Move to Mobile

The long-standing tradition of brick-and-mortar stores will always continue; however, the future of retail is headed towards the mobile space. The days of e-commerce are transitioning to m-commerce, and if retailers want to avoid the cold hands of the retail apocalypse, they need to combat it by developing their own retail app.

Although competition is tough in the mobile ecosystem, retailers can survive the retail apocalypse by adopting the right strategies. With ASO, they can put their mobile app at the forefront of the app stores and continue to thrive as customers migrate to the mobile space.

About the writer: Dave Bell is the Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, where he is responsible for overseeing the business strategy for the company, driving growth and market development. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct-to-consumer and app store channels. Connect with Dave on Twitter @daveabell and LinkedIn.

Join the #retail, #inspiringretail and #SmartStore conversations on Twitter @RetailNext, as well as at www.facebook.com/retailnext.