Last time I wrote about the top functionalities that each ecommerce app MUST have, but now we will explore the features that can help your ecommerce app to get a competitive edge over other apps.
You probably heard about these features before but you may not realize their potential if implemented within an ecommerce mobile app.
Take a look at some features that can help your mobile app to gain more popularity.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have steadily become a part of mobile development. You should consider these technologies if you want your ecommerce app to make a difference in your retail business.
AR refers to superimposing virtual objects onto the real-world items using the 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 evoking users for further engage with your app. Users can view your products from different angles which ensures that your users are satisfied with the item they choose and reduce churn rates.
If you want to step outside of standard and get a bit more innovative, 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 or look on them. The same thing can be done for many types of retail stores, no matter if you sell clothes, sunglasses, hats and so on.
These technologies give users try-out experience – it removes any confusion with users and the real-life interaction gives users a chance to reach a conscious decision.
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 much more. Gamification increases chances of returning customers who will use your app for future purchases as well.
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.
It’s difficult to gain popularity in eCommerce, yet it is not impossible with the right tools, techniques and a great development team.
Recommendation system is a type of information filtering system which analyzes user behavior to showcase personalized messages, content or suggestions.
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: It’s based on customers’ likes as each item carries certain attributes or a keyword. Items are recommended if the characteristics match the profile of the user. It’s less effective as it is 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 this 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.
Customers looking for other items in an app will take advantage of these recommendations to get access to the products matching their needs and quickly complete the purchase.
Recommendation system can bring you some level of trust from your users thus making them long-term customers which is essential for every business not only eCommerce.
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.
With geofencing, you can send customized marketing messages to users based on their location.
For example, you can send promotional offers the same moment the user enters a marketplace. It will ensure that you take advantage of timing and channel the user’s buying intent to your advantage.
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.
If a customer tries an item in one of the stores, geolocation feature can help retailers to use the data and send a related email or a product offer thus connecting offline and online brand communication.
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 business is expected 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.
As e-commerce business greatly depends on its customers’ data, it’s wise to use cloud-based structures as they are accident tolerant – 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 are programs that can understand human inputs while in 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.
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 how much each of them cost as well as the estimated delivery time for each option.
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.
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.
Customers spend 3-4 hours more in mobile apps than on mobile sites and a research has shown that mobile app users are twice as likely to return to your mobile app within 30 days as opposed to shoppers who access your website via mobile.
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.
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.
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.
The e-Commerce 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.
You should aim to create a smooth flow for your users from the moment of choosing the product to finalizing the purchase. The process needs to be quick, intuitive and transparent and it should encourage customers to complete the purchase.
Your brand needs to stand out as it’s important that shoppers recognize your brand as relevant instantly.
Adding some extra functionalities to your eCommerce app can help your brand being recognized and your app gain more popularity.