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Headless Commerce: Is it the Future of Online Sales?

Online shopping habits have greatly altered in recent years. Today, people use smartphones far more than their desktop computers to buy things on the Internet hence they expect much more from the online stores

Outdated e-stores with sluggishly loading pages, inconvenient navigation, and generally poor performance don’t get the approval of buyers. For businesses, this simply means lost sales if the store is not compatible (from the technical perspective) and won’t live up to the audience’s expectations. 

Bottom line: change requires change.

Headless commerce is a new trend that determines the future of online selling. 

Find out what’s all the fuss, how it differs from traditional commerce and how merchants can benefit from a progressive frontend.

Source: saleslayer.com

Defining Monolithic Traditional Commerce Stores

The current situation is as follows: most online retail stores that we see online today are traditional commerce ones. A large portion of them was built a decade ago and uses heavy monolithic architecture.

This type of system keeps it all in one place; that is, everything is set up and maintained in a “single environment”. As a rule, these solutions are used to serve just one channel – in most cases, it all goes down to one site that’s mainly aimed at desktop users.

The backend and the frontend of such stores are closely interlinked. 

For example, this kind of architecture can be compared to a large warehouse that stores the entire data scope of your site. This includes the content that’s seen on the frontend by users along with all the information that’s managed in the backend (product database, order history, payment logs, customer data, etc).

In turn, this is why stores aren’t flexible enough when it comes down to their customization and how fast users receive the requested content on their screens.

Source: medium.com

The Biggest Drawbacks of Monolithic Architecture Stores

  • It takes a great deal of time to build monolithic websites in terms of development (since it involves both the frontend and the backend being tied together).
  • Moreover, stores with such coupled architecture are generally slower than headless ones. I.e., it takes them much more time to fetch the required content for users, which often causes irritation and bounce.
  • It’s time-consuming to make any changes, updates, or deployments. Developers who work with traditional commerce systems have to make changes in numerous places when they rework the code, making sure nothing else breaks in consequence. This implies that there’s practically no flexibility, leading to longer development and deployment time which backpedals the implementation of updates, features, and adopting new technology.
  • It gets tricky if you face the need to create something custom. Since this approach is very closely tied to the used framework and toolset, most “moves” that you can make with the site are often predefined. Topping that, because such traditional systems “run by other rules”, when you need something unique, there will most likely be big obstacles. This primarily regards changes to the store to suit mobile devices that require a different look.
  • With a monolithic store, you often get stuck with some solutions. The thing is that not everything can be updated or tweaked. Design is commonly a sore subject as, in most cases, there are big restrictions and limitations of what you can and cannot do in terms of an eCommerce store’s UX and UI (especially if we keep in mind design variations for multiple devices).
  • Most importantly, sticking to a solution that can’t be in line with the times and that will soon be outdated is not the best decision for online retail businesses. After all, you’ll have to shift to something else at some point in order for your business to adapt to the times, drive traffic, and convert.

Explaining Headless Decoupled Commerce Stores

As shortly mentioned earlier, the shift towards headless commerce is the next big deal in online retail. This rather recent trend revolves around such an architecture that splits apart a store’s frontend and backend.

Decoupled headless commerce systems use API to connect the backend with the frontend and have the frontend based on a modern framework (such as ReactJS or AngularJS). This helps the system quickly deliver its users the content that they want to see on the store no matter the used device.

Image credit: Pexels

Due to this separation, one single store can have different “heads” that’ll serve separate client touchpoints. That is, it may offer multiple solutions for users who wish to shop in the store using various devices.

Each “head” can be adapted to work with a specific device: smart home technology, a mobile phone, a desktop computer, a watch, a smart fridge, a voice assistant speaker, etc. They’ll be attached to the backend of the store via API. Thus, if you want to have the chance to support multiple channels, headless commerce can be what you’re looking for.

Furthermore, in turn, the backend of a headless commerce store can be divided too. This division is referred to as microservices. For example, the payment and search can have their own databases as opposed to a single one for them all. It allows avoiding “snowball” breaks and data mix-ups. 

In general, optimizing a site and its performance is much simpler with headless because it’s lightweight. The same applies if you want to have custom solutions that don’t depend on pre-set tools and layouts. Clearly, it makes sense to have a scalable site that’s not fully dependent on a single CMS.

The approach can also safeguard against mutual breaks. So, if you want to stop worrying that changes on the frontend can negatively affect the backend (or the other way around) during deployments, releases, or updates, don’t overlook headless commerce. Your dev teams can work separately on the frontend and backend without going back and forth.

Source: connectionmodel.com

The Drawbacks of Headless Commerce

  • Such changes won’t happen in a day. This is the first thing that you should keep in mind.
    Splitting an existing store’s backend from the frontend usually requires a load of “heavy-lifting” from the development perspective. Just as it is building a headless store from scratch.
  • If your online business is large-scale, you most likely have a highly customized monolithic store. In this case, your first option is building the headless commerce site from the ground up, i.e., not investing time in splitting what you have.  Alternatively, you can decouple your existing site’s frontend and backend, creating an API for the latter. For a large enterprise, headless commerce makes sense in this scenario if you have many unique solutions developed specifically for your business. But prepare for the long hours and costs that imply.
  • Next, there may be a necessity in creating plenty of UX\UI designs. Since there may be no frontend designs for the devices you want your store to support, this will require the work of designers. They’ll have to make the “looks” of the headless storefront for multiple endpoints. This implies a lot of hours from the developer’s side too to implement the UI and UX. Bear in mind that there’ll be a time-consuming UX\UI design stage of the entire site and its further development.

Undoubtedly, such work comes at a cost. Finding a team that you can trust with such a complicated headless project isn’t easy either. But this is the sacrifice that’ll pay off both short-term and long-term.

So How Do You Get Started with Headless Commerce?

Source: thirstcreative.co.au

There are numerous paths to follow if you’ve decided that you’re going headless. Here are some tips for you to get started.

Step 1

Before you begin the search for the optimal headless option for you, browse the web for some examples and think about what you have at the moment.

Step 2

Do some planning on the scope of work that’s ahead and think your strategy through.

The great thing is that you don’t have to build the whole store simultaneously. You can take things one piece at a time. For example, you may first transform your eCommerce store into a progressive web application (PWA).

Getting a PWA can be the big primary decision that’ll take you closer to headless commerce. You’ll therefore prepare your store for the attachment of other “heads” someday in the future as a PWA’s architecture presupposes decoupling.

Progressive web apps have many benefits, crucial of them being the fact that they optimize both the mobile and desktop versions of the store. This can cater to the needs of most of your audience today and provide the needed level of customer experience.

Plus, PWAs have a design that has “copied” the best that native applications provide, they work in browsers and don’t have to be downloaded, and are super fast. Here are many Magento PWA examples that you can take a look at.

Below are a couple of screenshots taken on a mobile device from the Apivita cosmetics site that is a PWA. It’s simple to navigate and has a neat design!

Source: Apivita

Step 3 

Define which current weak spots you want to improve, what are your main goals and which results you want to achieve in the long term.

Step 4

Determine which functionality you’ll need and which things should be your priority (for example, reaching impeccable site speed or supporting different devices).

Step 5

Finalize your budget.

Step 6

Consider which eCommerce platform you need and the approach to crafting a headless frontend and backend that’ll be right for your specific business. In most cases, you’ll need a team of professionals that specialize in a particular platform to work on your project.

Source: droptica.com

Final Say

We’ve seen a huge growth in online sales in the past few years, especially caused by the recent global pandemic.

Such a situation leaves business owners with the decision on whether to start reworking their online stores now or not. And the best choice here is to do so without delay. Optimizing stores in terms of their speed, UX\UI, performance, and capability to serve multiple endpoints is a must for user satisfaction, SEO, and conversions.

And what’s for headless commerce, if your business is planning to expand to omnichannel sales in the future, this is the only correct route on your map. A good point to start your online store’s “journey” to “destination headless” is converting it into a progressive web application.

10 Top Metrics for a Successful Analysis of Ecommerce Apps

If you’re an online retailer, it’s likely that your eCommerce business already has a mobile application. 

An app works equally well for e-shops selling furniture, online casinos with games like Fruit Spiele, or any other enterprise that provides products and services via the web. 

Mobile application promotes your brand to customers 24/7 and makes it easy for clients to make quick purchases. The best part is that a mobile app enables consumer actions to be visible and trackable. You can tell how many people clicked on the specific offer, how long they engaged with your content, how many pages they viewed, and much more. 

However, with a pretty much endless number of metrics you can track, it can become hard to decide which ones are worth your time. 

Here are our ten metrics to observe for eCommerce growth to help you make an informed decision.

Source: cedcommerce.com

1. Cost per Acquisition (CPA) 

No eCommerce analyst can ignore the importance of how much it costs to acquire every new client. These expenses include discount offers, creating in-app marketing materials, and everything else it takes to turn a prospect into a buyer. 

So why is it one of the most important eCommerce metrics? 

Knowing the cost of efforts you need to make for a customer to buy for your products enables you to revise your marketing strategies and eventually lowers your CPA

For example, after reviewing the data, many businesses find that they pay too much for their customer acquisition. A simple tweak in the adverts or a further segmentation of the audience can help reduce the costs. 

2. Ecommerce Cart Abandonment Rate

The cart abandonment rate on your eCommerce website and the app shows how many people add your products to the shopping cart and then won’t buy. 

If the number is too high, it indicates that something is wrong with your checkout process. Perhaps the pages load too slowly, or maybe there aren’t enough payment options. You can fix these problems by cleaning up your app’s code to make pages load faster. 

Plus, consider redesigning the checkout pages and the interface (UI), making them more user-friendly and featuring all the popular payment gateways.

Source: yukaichu.com

3. Knowing the Average Order Value (AOV) 

The average order value (AOV) is how much an average customer buys from you. 

You can first track the whole number of the AOV and then divide the buyers into groups by demographic, age, sex, etc. That allows you to see your highest AOV customers and target your ad campaigns specifically for them. 

If you have an online shop, you can increase your AOV via different methods. 

You can raise the prices of your products or services but you must be very careful as higher prices may discourage customers. Make sure to carefully plan and evaluate your strategy before its implementation. 

You can also implement upsell or cross-sell methods while discounts and free shipping are still a common popular strategy today if you wish to increase your AOV. 

Source: mageplaza.com

4. Customer Engagement Drives Sales

You can measure your customer’s engagement levels via many factors such as the number of subscriptions, shares, and reactions you get etc.. 

If people like your content, they are very likely to interact with it and it may lead directly to sales. 

Here are some of the most vital customer engagement metrics to follow that have a direct impact on eCommerce conversion rate: 

  • The number of people subscribing (and confirming it) to your newsletter via the app
  • The most clicked links 
  • How long consumers stay on various pages in the app

5. Know Your Conversion Rate 

If you’re doing any online business, you probably know well what an eCommerce conversion rate is. To recap, it’s the number of customers who purchase after taking a look at a product.

A conversion rate can be widely explained as a user completing desired actions predefined by your company – in summary, the total of all individual goals completed. 

In eCommerce, it is defined as a percentage of website visitors who actually complete an online transaction from your store. 

You can compare Conversion Rate values with other metrics like traffic sources, average order values (AOV), page views and more, to get insights into customers’ online habits. 

The findings will help you not only to increase your conversion rates, but also to improve your price structure, copywriting and SEO, contributing to your entire brand appearance.

Source: growcode.com

6. Customer Lifetime Value 

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) tracks the average value a certain client brings to your company throughout their lifetime. It’s a metric measured by a client’s repeat transactions and average order value (AOV) to distinguish between one-time customers and those who stick around for years.

The thing is that many businesses spend too much of their valuable resources on acquiring new customers. 

A more cost-effective approach is focusing on the clients who are already loyal to your brand and eager to buy more from you.

If you wish to increase your CLV, there are a few tactics you can use e.g. you can make it easy for customers to return items if purchased from you, set expectations regarding delivery dates, create a reward program to encourage repeat purchases or offer freebies for buying from you but the most important method is to STAY IN TOUCH. Long-term customers want to know you did not forget them so make it easy for them to reach out to you. 

Source: alexanderthamm.com

7. App Speed

Nothing makes a customer quit an app quicker than slow-loading pages and you can’t blame them. 

It’s not easy to engage with an app’s content if it takes minutes to show up on screens. 

Luckily, you can track the speed of your interface and its functions. When anything takes over two or three seconds to load, you should consider fixing it.

8. Gross Margin of Your App Sales

The money you made by selling your items, minus the inventory costs, is your gross margin

In other words, it’s your profit. The average online shops on eCommerce platforms have a gross margin of 30 to 40%, and every business should aim at 40% or higher. 

However, keep in mind that it’s vital to track these numbers over a long period. Don’t hassle too much about weekly losses or occasionally lost customers. The overall profit of a whole year is what matters. 

Source: insidesmallbusiness.com.au

9. Average Time Spent on Resolving Tickets

Knowing how much time it takes for your customer support to solve support tickets is the first step in speeding up the service. 

You might consider installing a 24/7 accessible chatbot for your customer support. Chatbots are software programs created to engage with users automatically. It can respond to messages containing specific words or phrases by offering a predefined response. Chatbots can also use AI or Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze and understand incoming messages and provide an appropriate answer in real time. 

It’ll be worth the effort because customers who have to wait for days to get their issues resolved are unlikely to return and buy from you again.

Source: kommunicate.com

10. How Much Revenue Your Ads Bring

Dividing your overall revenue with the amount of money you pay for your marketing efforts gives you the value of how much money every dollar spent on ads makes. Your website can earn revenue when visitors engage with your ads, commonly by generating impressions, engagement and clicks. 

The main aim is to keep the expenses as low as possible while reaching your target market effectively. Many things depend on the pricing model you choose so it is crucial to get to know some of these models – there are many pricing models like CPC, PPC, CPM, CPI and more. Among these, the most widely used is CPM (cost-per-thousand) and CPC (cost-per-click)

Keep experimenting with new types of ads to get the revenue/ads cost number as high as possible. Finally, the content itself should be valuable to your visitors to attract them into spending more time viewing your ads and making purchases. 

Conclusion

Ecommerce, by definition, means doing business over the Internet or online. 

A great thing about online transactions is that everything is measurable so keep an eye on the metrics outlined in this article. They’re all key performance indicators (KPIs), and tracking these eCommerce KPIs with specific targets in mind will enable you to make the most out of your in-app sales. 

How To Boost Your eCommerce Mobile App

Last time I wrote about the top functionalities that each ecommerce app MUST have, but now we will explore features that can help your eCommerce app to get a competitive edge over other apps.

Take a look at some features that can help your mobile app gain more popularity.

Augmented Reality 

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have increasingly become a part of mobile development. You should consider these technologies if you want your eCommerce app to make a difference.

AR refers to superimposing virtual objects onto the real-world items using your mobile device. The technologies have become mainstream with the release of individual frameworks for AR content development by Apple and Google. 

Using AR enables you to showcase a much better view of your products and trigger users for further engage with your app. Users can view your products from different angles which ensures that they are satisfied with the item they choose thus reducing churn rates.

Source: veeqo.com

If you want to step outside of standard and get a bit more creative, consider adding VR to your mobile app.

For example, if you offer some clothing items, VR will help consumers to check how the clothes will fit them. The same thing can be done for many types of retail stores, no matter if you sell clothes, sunglasses, hats and so on.

Source: ikea.com

AR and VR give you an opportunity to present your products to your customers in a real life context. Some great examples are IKEA and Sephora

These technologies give users try-out experience – such real-life interaction gives users a chance to reach a conscious decision.

Gamification 

Gamification is a process of adding game-like elements like points, scores, etc., to a non-game environment like education or eCommerce. 

By using gamification in your eCommerce app, you create a story where users can earn loyalty points, complete milestones set upfront, share their achievements and more. Gamification increases chances of returning customers who will use your app for future purchases as well.

Source: starbucks.com

Today, engagement is the most important for the success of any business let alone eCommerce – that’s where gamification comes handy. It helps to provoke word of mouth and increase your customer loyalty as well as retention rates. 

H&M developed such an idea to H&M club – the story goes: ‘Become a member and get a 10% discount when you join, unlimited free delivery, earn points on all or some purchases and get exclusive discounts’. They went the extra mile and added some personalized features like 25% discount on the users’ birthday, early access to selected collections and so on. 

Source: www2.hm.com

It’s challenging for a mobile app to gain popularity within eCommerce, yet it is not impossible with right tools, techniques and a great development team

Recommendation System

Recommendation system is a type of information filtering system which analyzes user behavior to showcase personalized messages or content.

This feature helps you to engage customers and improve cross-selling. It’s similar to experiencing top eCommerce apps like Amazon where the algorithm is designed using Machine Learning (ML) to help the app to learn users’ preferences and display relevant products.  

There are different types of recommendation systems:

  • Collaborative filtering: similar to Linkedin or Facebook where you get friend suggestions based on mutual connections or similar demographics and/or behaviour. It is effective yet it requires a fair amount of customer data (many users)
  • Content-based Filtering: based on customers’ likes as each item carries certain attributes or keywords. Items are recommended if the characteristics match the user’s profile. It’s less effective as it’s not easy to attach attributes to the items and the recommendation may turn out to be vague.
  • Hybrid Model: It’s a combination of the first two types. By combining the two approaches you can enjoy the benefit of both without having to handle drawbacks. An example is Netflix which earned many loyal users with such approach.

If you use a recommendation system, you can provide personalized suggestions to consumers and improve catalog visibility – it is similar to brick-and-mortar stores where salesmen understand what the buyer is looking for and shows only preferred products.

Source: oldnavy.gap.com

Customers looking for the items in an app will use these recommendations to access the preferred products and quickly complete the purchase.

Recommendation system can bring you some level of trust from your users thus making them into long-term customers which is essential for every business not only eCommerce.

Geofencing

Geofencing is the technology that enables location-based marketing. 

Geofencing can be another valuable element of brand apps enhancing the experience of product browsing and shopping. 

Your mobile app can make use of GPS, RFID, Bluetooth beacons etc. to allow your app to identify the location of the user. 

With geofencing, you can send customized marketing messages to users based on their location. 

For example, you can send promotional offers the very moment the user enters a marketplace – it will ensure that you take advantage of timing.

Geofencing can automatically detect which store the user is in and provide them with a map leading to specific products based on their position. This type of technology can help businesses to retarget customers later. 

Source: econsultancy.com

Keep in mind that while geofencing automatically requires permission to access location data, not all users will be aware of what they’ve done. It’s vital for your business to fully state why and how you are using the data so to explain it to users especially in countries where strict data regulations apply like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

This technology is very popular and might be a good idea to consider for your e-Commerce mobile app. 

Mobile Cloud Computing

Mobile cloud computing is a combination of cloud computing and mobile computing to provide better user experience. 

One of the examples is that a cloud engine reduces the server response time thus increasing your mobile app speed.

Your expect your business to grow in the future and it’s vital to scale it as it grows. Mobile Cloud computing provides scalable structure for your business needs – it allows you to scale your services up or down as per the demand, traffic or seasonal spikes.

For example, while a sudden spike in traffic can slow down a website, cloud computing provides you with a greater bandwidth, power and storage. 

Source: newgenapps.com

As eCommerce business greatly depends on its customers’ data, it’s wise to use cloud-based structures – it can save your business from data loss and keep the data secure, backed-up and easily accessible.

By using mobile cloud computing, you can ensure that your app has both quality and performance. 

Chatbots

Chatbots are programs that can understand human inputs within the right context and provide outputs that can be helpful to users.

Chatbots use NLP (natural language processing) to understand the context behind a user query and provide the most suitable results accordingly. 

A customer can ask about purchase suggestions, payment process, raise issues or find desired products and more with the help of a bot. 

Source: rubygarage.org

Benefits of having a chatbot are huge – chatbots require a small investment for development and maintenance allowing instant assistance to users without having them to wait in long calling queues on the helpline. 

Chatbots provide better engagement – they are specialized in giving advice on a certain subject anytime while people cannot work 24×7 during a week. The result is serving customers whenever they need. 

Personalization is also important – although FAQ on your website can provide some answers, chatbots can immediately answer your customers’ queries and help them with personalized recommendations afterwards. 

Multiple Shipping Methods

You should provide better choice in shipping methods for your consumers.  

People like to have their items delivered as per their personal needs. For example, if a customer wants delivery only to their PO Box address, then you should have that option. 

Allowing users to choose from various shipping options and letting them add the shipping address easily will create a positive user experience in your e-Commerce mobile app. 

Different available shipping methods is a must-have and it would be practical for users to show the cost and estimated delivery time for each option.

Source: quora.com

If you start with developing an MVP, you can start with a simple option for users to order an item to one of your stores and once the app gains popularity, you can upgrade this feature and add new options. 

Another feature that is nice to have is the option to easily check the shipping status of the ordered items. It will help to boost transparency and enhance the quality of interaction that customers have with your store after completing the purchase. 

Source:
 https://www.spaceotechnologies.com/

Users like to know the details about their online purchases so this feature will help them to know exactly what is going on with their ordered items. 

Loyalty Programs

Customers spend 90% more time in mobile apps than on mobile sites and a research has shown that mobile app users are more likely to return to your mobile app within 30 days.

People who decide to download your mobile app initially show a higher level of investment in your brand. Besides regular promotions and exclusive access to products via VIP membership that many stores offer today, you can also give users an option to collect points and win discounts through your mobile application – driving loyalty through a special loyalty program is a smart move.

Source: devteam.space

You can easily notify your customers about the upcoming events, exclusive discounts and rewards if they wish so. You can also use the app to distribute promotion codes to users, motivating them to download and use the app. 

Offering special promotions and discounts as well as making purchase simple for your users will improve user experience and increase sales as you’ll be reminding your customers to make purchases on a regular basis.  

Extra Functionalities

Besides the above mentioned add-on features for an e-Commerce app, there are some extra functionalities that are optional but can be added to boost your sales:

  • Push Notifications – send personalized messages and offers
  • Beacons – personalize push notifications better per customer offering them exclusive deals
  • Magazine – an in-app blog about the latest industry trends
  • Store locator – to easily find a brick and mortar store nearby. 
Source: slideshare.net

FINAL WORD

The eCommerce mobile app development process is full of challenges because you are trying to squeeze a lot of content into small screens and it comes with certain compromises. The process needs to be quick, intuitive and transparent and it should encourage customers to complete the purchase.

Another way to boost your mobile app is to build your brand. If you want to increase the visibility of your eCommerce brand then focusing on eCommerce SEO is critical. Proper SEO can provide you not only with the higher ranking but also a strong brand recognition.

Your brand needs to stand out as it’s important that shoppers recognize your brand and choose your eCommerce mobile app for their next shopping destination.

Adding some extra functionalities to your eCommerce app can help your brand being recognized and your app gain more popularity.

10 Tips for Developing a Successful Ecommerce Mobile App

Did you know that 85% of smartphone users nowadays rather use mobile app instead of mobile websites?

Although a large portion of sales is made via a mobile app, only a few retailers actually offer a mobile app!

Considering such an opportunity at the market, any eCommerce business wishing to increase their sales should seriously think about building a mobile app.

When you’re an eCommerce, you must create a great customer experience for your buyers as it is critical for your success. As UX is one of the most important elements in any mobile app, make sure to be up to date with the latest UX industry trends and stats.

Before building an eCommerce mobile app, there are some key elements mobile users impose so you need to understand them.

Simple and Clear Design

User Interface (UI) is the first thing that users experience when they launch an ecommerce app – it allows users to enter the app, navigate and explore the categories and make searches. 

Always keep in mind that the screen size of a mobile device is much smaller thus you’re limited with space –  home screen should focus on having a clear layout with an easy navigation system and search features while each button, menu or content has to be well organized and neat.

Source: deorwine.com

Your design should be intuitive for users to easily navigate through the app – your UI shouldn’t make them think:

  • Avoid complicated designs with lots of text or animation; 
  • Avoid UI junk as your users want to find the product they what as simple as possible;
  • Use simple color schemes like monochromatic or analogous scheme; 
  • Pay attention to spacing – lines and dividers are great tools to emphasize different sections on a screen but you can also achieve the same effect by using shadows and colors.
  • Use only a single typeface or you can play safely and use the platform’s default font like San Francisco for iOS or Roboto/Noto for Android. Sometimes it’s better to experiment with size, style or weight of the chosen typeface rather than using another font. 

Just remember, get straight to the point – the fewer clicks, the better. 

Also, consider that every mobile OS has its own style guidelines like Material Design for Android or Human Interface Guidelines for iOS. 

The UI of a mobile app is a genuine attention grabber so make it the best possible. 

Quick Login and Checkout

Nothing can irritate more than having to type in the same details over and over again like email address, name, surname, address, security questions and so on.

Don’t make users annoyed while logging or checking out – touch-screens are more distracting for writing as they lack a physical keyboard. If you make your login/checkout process long, you will definitely lose customers.

As said many times before, a good idea is to make social media login via Gmail, Facebook or any other favored social networks so that customers can easily login without bothersome numerous input. 

Using social media has additional benefit if you create a ‘Share’ button – that way, your customers can share on social networks what they’ve bought and at the same time, advertise your business. 

Source: profilepress.com

You should offer to store user information and use auto-complete to avoid those repetitive tasks. 

The same goes with checkout – don’t ask users for their personal information until it is really necessary. Keep in mind that it has to fit the smartphone screen without any scrolling. 

Some examples of how you can ensure streamlined service can be:

  • The buttons ‘PAY’ or ‘CHECKOUT’ must be in a thumb-friendly zone
  • Allow the users to modify their order
  • Use autofill fields 
  • Implement error messaging to prevent any unsuccessful order due to typos or incomplete fields
If you don’t make it short and sweet for users, the result will be abandoned carts and lost profit.

Consistency and Simple Navigation

 One of the key principles of design is keeping your mobile app consistent – it means having the similar elements behave and look the same way. 

Source: pixelworm.io

Consistency can be:

  • Visual Consistency – buttons, fonts and color schemes should look identical
  • Functional Consistency – interactive elements (e.g. navigation elements) should operate the same way on different screens
  • External consistency – all your products (e.g. a website and both Android and iOS apps) should share similar design patterns. 

For example, if your ‘Pay Now’ button is green on one page, then it should be green on all other pages as well. 

Source: dribble.com

Consistency brings infinite benefits like making your app more predictable so that users don’t have to learn new ways to navigate your app; it eliminates confusion, helps to prioritize content and evokes a positive emotional response with users.

You must ensure that your menu is positioned clearly throughout the app, listing only the most important sections and that each menu item is easily understood by using a single word. 

The best is to use standard elements like the tab bar for iOS or navigation drawer for Android. Considering gesture-based navigation, think about well known patterns that all users intuitively understand like double tap for zooming in the photo or scrolling down if you wish to explore more products. 

Make navigation visible – if you have a side menu, users should clearly see how to reach it. 

You can also increase the visibility or prioritize some of some navigation elements by using different colors. 

Prominent Cart Button

The cart should be always visible since it’s what every customer will use to buy products from you. 

It should show clearly and be able to add a product without taking the users to the cart page, so that they can continue shopping.

Do whatever it takes to minimize the steps and deliver better shopping experience. 

Source: pngitem.com

Product screens should always have a visible and a prominent button ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Now’ – it will help to make the buying experience simpler for the customer and to improve your sales. 

Source: toptal.com

Make sure that users can easily add or remove the items from the cart. 

One Hand Input

In the world of smartphones and touch screens, you must place the elements that will encourage users to take a specific action.

Thumb-friendly zone is a space on the screen which a user can easily reach with his thumb while holding a phone in the same hand.

Source: storemotion.io

Check if all your elements are in the thumb-friendly zone as people won’t take an effort if they cannot easily reach something.

Which buttons should be placed in the thumb-friendly zone?

  • Add to cart
  • Proceed button that leads from cart to checkout
  • Pay button at the payment screen
Source: toptal.com

Another way to keep it simple is ‘The Three-Tap Rule’ – it suggests that it shouldn’t take more than 3 taps for a user to get any of the products they want to buy. 

Arranging and organizing your products in categories will meet this requirement. You can arrange your products as follows:

  • Categories
  • Sub-categories
  • Products

You can also use tags to arrange products into specific campaigns like ‘Xmas Sale’ or ‘Valentine Gifts’ etc. 

Source: digitalcommerce360.com

However you decide to proceed, the search bar is essential as it helps users to get directly to the products they’re interested in. 

If you want to go the extra mile, you can implement Smart Search – as a user types in the first letters, a number of possible suggestions should be displayed to choose from. Not only will you save users’ time but you will have an opportunity to show some hot product selection. 

The Three Tap Rule is nothing more than a rule to minimize the steps with all processes like browsing products, adding to the cart, payment and so on. 

Quick Load

Users don’t want delays anymore in loading or not loading in time. Loading circle for more than 4-5 seconds results in a user abandoning the app.

Just a single second delay in page loading can result in less views by 11% or customer satisfaction in 16% so make sure to speed it up. 

Source: freecodecamp.org

If you want to stay ahead of the game in the e-commerce world, you need to make sure that your app loads as fast as possible. Each element, images or page should load under 4-5 seconds being the attention span time of online users. 

You can use a progress bar to mitigate impatience - this way you let your customers know exactly how much time they need to wait until the process is finally complete. 
Source: dribble.com

Favourite or Wish list feature

Customers like to browse or pick the best items before they actually make a purchase to a specific product. 

The solution is a feature ‘add to favourite’ or ‘add to wish list’ as it lets users gather all their choices in one place before they decide which one they will buy – it’s pretty much similar to brick-and-mortar stores where customers firstly browse before eventually buying something. 

Source: originboardshop.com
Once they decide which item they will buy, customers can re visit their collected lists and decide which one will be the one as per their taste. 

Security first

When you have an e-commerce app, you ask a lot of details from your customers like bank account details, credit card info, address and so on. 

As usage of mobile phones becomes more and more popular, they are also becoming the target of hackers and attacks. A poorly secured app can easily be breached leaving personal information and financial data unprotected. 

This is the reason why you should always provide the high level of security in an app as well as making each transaction encrypted with the best security features.

The most important thing for users is that their information, whether personal or financial, is safe. 

Even if it sounds too expensive, the consequences of not having a high level security goes beyond expensive to impossible as your reputation and business depend on your secure app.

Once the users lose faith in your app, they will never return. 

Keep an eye on the security level of your app and ensure that there are no loopholes.

Another important thing is to provide the most popular payment methods. For example, a customer  who mostly shops online but after checking out his ‘cart’ he realizes that you don’t have the payment option that he prefers. The result = lost customer. 

If you wish to play smarter, you need to ensure that your payment method covers credit cards, debit cards, net banking and e-Wallets being at the top. 

Source: magneticians.com

During the process, always keep in mind the new GDPR for mobile apps as every app is obliged to communicate which data of the user is collected, why and what it will be used for.  If your app doesn’t comply with the regulations, you can face fines.

The best way is to ask for approval of its privacy and security policy right after the user downloads the app. 

Auto Suggestion

This feature is always handy for users – when they browse an app and go from one page to another, the activity can create data logs which can be used later to understand the behaviour of individual users. 

That’s where apps use auto recommendation – to make it easier and faster for users to fill out forms. Auto suggestion predicts common search queries and helps customers to find products more easily. 

Source: toptal.com

Moreover, address lookup and validation makes the checkout process much faster – various APIs like Google Places enable easy implementation of this feature. 

As e-commerce apps should earn your revenue, it’s highly important to deliver exceptional user experience. If you implement app analytics, it will provide you with insight for user-behaviour and similar patterns like session time, click-through rate, accessing custom fields and more. 

The information collected will help you in understanding buying patterns of the users and allow you to provide better recommendations based on their interests all amounting to higher revenue streams. 

Prompt Customer Service

Although you can make the app as simple as possible, customers frequently have some questions to which they’d like an answer. Facilitating the interaction between customers and representatives is a must-have for any ecommerce mobile app. 

Source: smartsupp.com

Providing live chat support to online customers or you can experiment with different options like messaging service, telephone or email support to see which ones your customers like the best. 

This way, customers can easily get in touch with the store in case they have any questions about the products, shipping, payments and more. 

Tell your developers to implement such feature in your ecommerce app as it will be more likeable by the customers and ensure more downloads, meaning more revenue. 

IN SUMMARY..

There are many key features for e-commerce apps and I’ve summarized the best picks to have in mind when building an e-commerce app

Let’s recall the main tips which will help you to increase your ‘mobile’ sales:

  • Stick to ‘minimal’ approach – simple colours, default font and appropriate spacing
  • Provide fast and easy signup and checkout process
  • Be consistent (visual, external and functional) and make sure users can perform main actions without any prior instructions
  • Make sure that CART button easily visible and prominent
  • Provide comfortable interaction in a thumb-friendly zone with gesture for product image zooming 
  • Provide fast loading of app pages
  • Provide users with an option to choose and perform their purchase at their own pace with an editable wishlist
  • Provide a sense of security and trust by displaying badges and testimonials
  • Incorporate fast product search and easy filtering with auto suggestion bar
  • Ensure a prompt customer support to offer the best services to your users

These are some basic key features – they will help you get an app that really makes difference in retailing business and make you successful in your ecommerce journey.

Powerful Augmented Reality in Mobile

Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that ‘augments’ your reality by blending the real and digital world in such a way so to provide a unique experience.

We are using Augmented Reality every day, although most people aren’t aware of it. Examples date from the old movies like Who framed Roger Rabbitor Space Jam to the present days when Augmented Reality took off in mobile with popular apps like Pokemon Go or features on Snapchat that introduced many people to the seemingly futuristic concept.

AR market is rapidly growing so let’s see what’s the buzz.

What is AR?

Augmented Reality (AR), expands your ‘real’ or physical world — it imposes digital data being sound, video or text onto your realistic view.

As an example, think of Snapchat and their filters, where you can make funny selfies with various add-on’s and filters etc.

As opposed to Virtual Reality (VR) which actually ‘absorbs’ you into a 3D environment or situation, AR places digital information onto the real image or video thus saving most of the environment unaltered.

AR has become widespread due to a simple fact that you can experience AR using only a smartphone while for VR you need to have special equipment.

Many people think of AR as a tool for fun, but it is a rather powerful add-on to any industry nowadays as it can boost engagement and create realistic-like experiences with various products.

blippar.com

How does AR Work?

AR technology today is quite common -tech giants like Apple and Google already created AR toolkits to facilitate the development of the technology.

AR is actually overlaying the experience where the 1st layer is the real world. Layering effect enables the user to see both natural and artificial light and when the camera recognizes the target, it processes the image and then pastes a digital asset onto the image. This enables a user to see both the real and artificial world simultaneously.

For example, Gatwick airport developed an AR app which helps the passengers to navigate through their large site — they installed numerous beacons that guide people through the airport using augmented reality (AR). This way, passengers have an image of the real world (airport) with an overlaying image of digital navigation image (check-in, different gate numbers, etc.).

Together, they make AR experience for their users.


www.vrfocus.com

Types of AR

There are four main types of Augmented Reality.

Marker-based

Marker-based AR or ‘image recognition’ AR uses phone camera and certain visual markers (like QR code or a specific image) that produce AR when sensed by the camera. If you want your image to come alive, then you should use marker-based AR. Some examples are print media (posters, logos, brochures, etc.) or objects (bottles or some machinery etc.) like ScanLife or Popcode.


www.yestzerstudio.com

Markerless AR

Markerless AR is the most popular type of AR — it uses an accelerometer, GPS or digital compass to provide data to the device based on location or speed. It is useful for showing physical objects in relation to other objects, for mapping directions, finding nearby companies and other location centered apps. Example of it is ARIS, an interactive storytelling application.


www.techook.com

Projection based AR

Projection based AR is projecting light onto a real surface, similar to a movie projector. You don’t need any additional equipment like a screen or a headset.

This type of AR is usually deployed at large conferences or events as it can show large objects (cars, vans, etc.) and it can be used for consumer feedback on different models.

It can be interactive and uses sensors and 3D. Some of the examples include laser plasma technology which uses AR to project 3D interactive hologram.

Superimposition based AR

This type of AR uses object recognition — augmented image replaces the original image fully or partially. This type of AR is used in the field of medicine relating to superimposing X-ray onto a patient’s body.

It can be used to enhance historical tours — e.g. this type of AR can showcase a painting or a statue and how it looked like originally, visually depicting how it aged and why it is significant.


www.yetzerstudio.com

Benefits of AR

Although many people consider this technology entertainment only, it is quite the opposite. It is widely spread in many industries like healthcare, e-commerce, architecture, advertising and others.

Potential of AR is immense and brands are already utilizing AR technology to provide a brand new user experience to their customers.

Some examples include creating product demos, interactive advertising or providing real-time information to consumers. According to the Study from Ohio State University, people are more prone to buy a product after ‘touching’ it, or after interacting with it since during the process, an emotional bond is established.

Some benefits are:

Personalized Customer Experience

This is a great way for businesses to enhance their engagement with their consumers from apps where you can virtually ‘try-on’ the product like Ray-Ban did it with their Virtual Try-On feature to many other similar apps.

Another example is IKEA Place app, where customers can virtually place the furniture around their homes without leaving the comfort of their armchair. This way, customers can make sure it fits their space prior to any actual purchase.

www.ikea.com

Home Depot also did the same thing back in 2017 and developed an app where you can place furniture and other home accessories around your home, similar to IKEA.

www.homedepot.com

Usage of AR like here actually simplifies a product trial and an overall purchase process.

Interactive Advertising

Starbucks gave an excellent example of interactive advertising with their Starbucks Cup Magic which displays animation characters like e.g. ice skater, a fox etc. when a customer points a camera towards the cup.

Such strategy enhances the customer experience by creating an interactive bond between your customers and your brand.

youtube.com

More examples are Nivea interactive ad which included a wristband to put on your kid and set the distance for parents to receive alerts if the child went beyond the limit.

Motorola did a great promotion of Moto X’s customization where people could change the colour of the phone by pushing buttons.

pinterest.com

There are many more examples of interactive advertisement, print or not, which nowadays take over traditional marketing, so keep the pace!

Consumer Engagement

Sephora is also a good example — you only need to take a shot of your face and plunge into an adventure of trying out different colors of lipsticks and other delicacies they offer.

sephora.com

You would say ‘Hah, this app has no other function except fun, it’s a waste of time!

But it’s not true at all — Sephora is actually improving customer engagement by keeping consumers entertained for a longer time plus increasing chances of purchase from customers who can now interact with them in a brand new way.

More examples are Uniqlo Magic Mirror, which enables customers to try out multiple colours and patterns of the same garment — it was followed by Adidas and Gap.

Another example is Timberland Virtual Dressing Room where a consumer may try out different clothes, accessories and various combinations of the same. Virtual fitting rooms became a common feature nowadays, but the notion is still acquiring wider development.

www.timberland.com

Making Your Brand Stand Out

If you need to present your company or a product on a trade show, it can be demanding. Trade shows are all about attention — simple old flyers or brochures won’t do a trick anymore.

If you want your product to stand out, you need to evoke ‘fascination’ effect with people — for example, a mobile device feeding a video of a 3D interactive AR product model to a large screen will make people focus on your product with a fascination that other mediums cannot inspire. And -fascination creates an emotional bond which is good for sales.

You can use AR screens like nuReflection to attract more people to your booth, e.g. you can use AR position based messaging like digital directions to your booth overlaying the real world  and more.


www.numediainnovations.com

AR can greatly help your company or a product to stand out of the crowd.

Repeat Purchase and Customer Loyalty

If you want to maintain customer loyalty and enable repeat purchase, you need to go the extra mile for your customers.

The example is Audi eKurtzinfo – their app converts your smartphone into a detailed user manual explaining how the parts work. It is extremely handy for users since it helps them to identify buttons and knobs in a way hard copy manuals never could do. Plus, everything is stored in the cloud, so users don’t have to bother updating the app continually.

Another example of how a company encourages repeat purchase is Lego, which introduced an app ‘Lego X’ back in 2010 — it uses networked Lego bricks to create a 3D model on your device. Customers should just hold up the box in front of the screen and the finished Lego will appear on top of the box. This is an excellent way for customers to check the item prior to purchasing and helps to create a trust in a brand where they will come back to buy again.

Geo-targeted Market

Apps that use geo-location feature can use your device camera to show nearby restaurants, stores, and other locations along with important information about each location — reviews, directions, open/close time, etc.

Example app is Street Lens developed by Google which uses geo-targeting for enhancing your experience.


www.digitaltrends.com

These types of apps can send notifications to the user according to their location and give recommendations about the best nearby bars and the directions how to get there or more specific goals like to find your car inside large parking lots or garages using GPS.

Boosting B2B Mobile Marketing

AR technology doesn’t fit only to individual purposes — it can also help to boost B2B marketing.

Product-based companies can show their goods with AR-driven 360 view and interactive experience where the customers can test their products while service-based companies can create AR tutorials of their key offerings, showing customers exactly what they will get for their money prior to any commitments.

For example, an architectural design studio can show a client how a new room addition will look from outside when finished and more. Examples of B2B usage of AR are endless and a good example is Cisco AR catalogue where you can explore the product features, rotate the products and learn more about the key technologies.

www.youtube.com

If you enable B2B audience to view interactive 3D models on their smartphones, companies can go beyond the limitations of video conferencing and engage participants on a whole new level.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Today’s industries are focusing more on mobile devices because they are ubiquitous and have all required elements for AR — screens, cameras, processors, sensors, etc.

As tools and frameworks for AR are rapidly evolving, AR is finding its way to various industries and we can expect to see more use cases and experiences involving AR which will take the mobile app ecosystem to the next level.

So, let’s stay tuned!