Want more in-app checkouts? Focus on “check-in” for 2018

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It is no longer good enough for merchants to simply have a functioning app. If I were writing this three years ago, then I would have accepted that just getting onto the App Store was a priority for businesses across retail, transport, QSR and other verticals. This is no longer the case.

A mobile phone making in App paymentsGlobal smartphone sales rose 3% in Q3 last year as the world races towards mobile ubiquity, which is hugely promising for m-commerce as it becomes the dominant channel for driving traffic, growing faster than e-commerce as a whole – according to Ryan Farley, CEO, Judopay.

However, businesses have to understand that with this comes increased competition for attention as consumers develop extremely high standards for any app they go to the trouble of downloading and placing on their precious home screens. Mobile devices are no longer the awe-inspiring technological feat that they once were.

As such, it is essential that businesses looking to reach consumers on mobile don’t become complacent when it comes to app design and, importantly, app marketing. Arguably, we have one truly disruptive company to thank for all this.

Uber represents the pinnacle of app-commerce perfection. Its slick, seamless user experience and invisible payments process scores a bullseye on the Venn diagram of functionality and design. People now expect this across the board, whether it’s a gaming app or QSR mobile order-and-pay.

Judopay, alongside other payments companies, have worked hard in recent years to fine tune the end payment experience to be as invisible and efficient as possible for the consumer in response to marketers’ acute awareness of friction at the bottom of the funnel.

But with the exponential rise in mobile interactions combined with consumers’ increasingly high standards for user experience and a low impetus to download a new app just because it exists, this friction has shifted from the checkout to the ‘check-in’ stage.

The download and login procedure is now a big decision for consumers who generally don’t want to flood their devices with mobile apps. Merchants mustn’t forget that people see their phones as an extension of themselves and it’s a big deal to allow a new app into their lives, even though on the face of it, installing an app is a quick and painless process. You have to add genuine value to be allowed in.

In the US, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are prime examples of businesses that get this right. First Annapolis data revealed last year that 75% of people who use merchant mobile apps receive rewards as part of their mobile wallet usage and two out of five said they would not have downloaded the app without rewards.

Starbucks removed the need for its customers to carry around a coupon card, which could be easily lost, damaged or forgotten, and even went further by using data insights to drive marketing capabilities. As m-commerce catches up with traditional desktop e-commerce, TD Bank’s latest Retail Experience Index shows that, for consumers, the popularity gap really narrows on the topic of redeeming coupons and promos.

The evidence is clear: rewarding consumers for downloading and using your app should be the main strategy driving design. Rewards don’t necessarily have to be monetary or product related; as Uber has shown, rewarding people by giving them back their time through sheer convenience is also a big draw.

For QSR, the time saving element of a decent app can increase revenue as well. In the States, Chick-fil-A recognised the huge surge in demand at mealtimes. The business is paying for staff to be there all day only to make most of its money at lunchtime.

One outlet was getting queues around the block, which it was unable to fulfil, and people would take one look and walk away. No business owner wants to be in this position, so Chick-fil-A opened a new channel with a mobile order-and-pay app tailored to solve this problem. Downloads went through the roof; the business could satisfy more customers and they saw a 25% increase in sales.

Businesses need to ensure they are pushing ahead with app design this year, addressing the key issues that affect their customer base that a mobile solution can solve. Needless to say, the app has to be absolutely seamless when it hits the store, but for 2018, rewarding people for their engagement will be the crucial differentiator.

People’s time is vital to them and merchants have one shot at getting them to download and register details. If the end experience isn’t approaching the slickness that Uber offers, then it’ll be bad news for business.