It’s been a decade since the iPhone phrase “there’s an app for that,” was first uttered. And with more than 8.93 million mobile apps available globally, it’s a ubiquitous saying that’s held up over time.
But the popularity of apps means the market is now extremely saturated, and consumers are often hesitant to install or pay for an app. Plus, no one enjoys interacting with a brand only to find a download is required: it kills engagement on site for a browsing consumer.
It’s difficult for retailers to compete with downloads, and in order to capture consumer attention, they must provide and communicate the benefits offered in return.
However, there’s an alternative to apps that eliminates the barriers for customer interaction: app-less technology. App-less, internet-enabled services can provide retailers with the functionality they need to capture attention on mobile devices, without the need to download or register for an app.
So how do you determine which option is best for your business? Let’s explore the benefits of both approaches, and what the differences mean for retailers and customers alike.
Apps Offer Personalized Service
Mobile apps can be beneficial when it comes to self-checkout and eliminating lines in brick-and-mortar stores. When a shopper downloads an app, they can self-scan products on their own device, and then pay directly from it. And by voluntarily registering for and signing in to an app, consumers share purchase history that helps retailers send better, personalized promotions.
As a result, promotions are sent when and where it’s helpful and rewarding, instead of pushy or irrelevant. App-based services are commonly used by grocery retailers as the industry is notorious for long lines and grocers benefit from offering promotions and circular coupons to shoppers on a weekly basis.
Because retailers’ apps are often linked with all other software systems and databases, apps provide an opportunity for real-time pricing updates and inventory management. Dynamic pricing is quickly becoming an essential capability for responding to both significant and subtle shifts in consumer demand.
One potential roadblock for mobile apps is the cost of maintenance. Regular updates and security management are required in order to meet guidelines for app stores.
Apps also require consumer buy-in. Even when an app is free, requiring a download adds extra friction. Loyalty rewards or some other immediate benefit must be tied to the app in order to convince a shopper its worth their time. The steps of finding an app, downloading it, registering, and keeping it on a phone is far from seamless.
App-less Tech Offers an Improved User Experience
Imagine all of the benefits of an app, without the need for friction on a shopper’s end. While native mobile apps are built for specific platforms such as iOS or Android, web apps or app-less technology can be accessed through any internet browser and adapt automatically to whichever device shoppers are using. The extensions in mobile phone browsers now have access to hardware, like a smartphone’s camera, making app-less technology possible.
App-less technology features additional accessibility and improved user experiences, making it a great fit for retailers looking to drive adoption and usage rates. Shoppers gain instant access to services and information as they need it, from multiple touchpoints. This can be advantageous for retailers, for example, as a consumer looks up inventory availability for a specific shoe or the aisle in which a power tool is located.
QR codes have seen a resurgence during the pandemic as a quick and efficient method to contactless experiences for shoppers. And with QR code readers now built directly into phone cameras, shoppers simply open their phone and can begin interacting in stores.
App-less technology can help speed up processes such as checkout, as well as order fulfillment and buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS). What’s more, retailers can easily integrate new payment methods as they continue to evolve.
Remain in Control of Every Customer Interaction
Modern retail demands flexibility and control. Regardless of whether retailers choose to implement app-based or app-less technology (or both), it’s important they make decisions that allow them control of the customer interaction.
Eliminating friction for shoppers and providing them an easy experience will ensure they shop with you today, and in the future.
Michael Jaszczyk is CEO of GK Software USA.