Morgan Stanley analysts have projected that by 2015, mobile Internet usage will surpass its desktop counterpart, and according to eMarketer, sales in global mobile commerce (m-commerce) will easily exceed $100 billion by 2017. As a result, merchants aiming to increase m-commerce sales are continuously opting for mobile app solutions. While apps that exclusively function as ecommerce platforms traditionally drive revenue, savvy marketers are also using branded apps to promote sales, build brand loyalty, and drive customer engagement.
There are a number of different approaches you can take to promoting mcommerce within your mobile app, but here are three approaches to consider:
1. Freemium Economy. A portmanteau of the words "free" and "premium," the phrase refers to apps that are free to download and use but require payment to acquire additional in-app perks. Business analyst firm App Annie released a report indicating that 98% of Google Play's income in May came from freemium apps - illustrating just how lucrative this method can be. Gaming apps like Candy Crush use this approach, often enticing users with a free game that delivers a great user experience and then offering additional services - extra lives, boosters, etc. - for a charge.
Many well-known productivity and communication apps work on this principle as well. Dropbox offers users an initial amount of storage space for free and the option to purchase additional gigabytes when they need more room. Scale is important when setting the price: WhatsApp, the messaging subscription service, charges a dollar a year after the free first year, but with 450 million users, that's more than enough.
2. Social networking. This approach functions to leverage social influencers to drive m-commerce and is especially effective for brands that are focused around a niche audience. Our work with the VigorWay app is a great example - it's a social network for health & fitness enthusiasts, providing a platform where they can share adventures and connect with other like-minded people. Once users feel well-connected with the community, they're more than likely to buy additional items that are sold through the platform.
Our team also developed Pippit, a beautiful mobile community that bridges blogging with social media and aims to transform how people share and find what they love. The app lets users follow their favorite bloggers, friends and brands all while being able to share personal blog posts, photos and videos. Like VigorWay, Pippit helps users discover new content and allows social influencers to tag where products can be purchased. .
3. Simplified purchasing. The third approach borrows a page from Amazon's book and makes it as simple as possible for users to buy products. This strategy is based on delivering a seamless purchasing experience, ideally giving users the opportunity to view highly relevant content and purchase items with just one click.
CoffeeTable, an iPad app, is a platform we helped build that delivers a simplified purchasing experience that drives m-commerce. The CoffeeTable app turns your tablet into a virtual coffee table, and since it's digital, no logistics costs are involved in delivering catalogs. The app tracks browser behavior, helping users discover similar and relevant items, which they can then purchase seamlessly in an expressway.
Apps are a powerful way to drive m-commerce, even if they don't primarily function as an ecommerce app. With the right strategy, you can use your brand's app to accurately target customers, track user behavior and deliver more relevant offers, all while providing users with a useful and intuitive user experience.