Beyond Commerce: 4 Strategies for Engaging Retail App Users
Jesse Weinberg
Jesse Weinberg

Beyond Commerce: 4 Strategies for Engaging Retail App Users

Jesse Weinberg, Associate Product Manager

Ecommerce apps have a serious engagement problem. According to Adobe’s 2016 Mobile Retail Report, retail apps see the highest abandonment rate with 60% of retail apps being used less than ten times – a lower usage rate than any other type of app.

Unfortunately, many retail apps have a sole focus of pushing users through the purchase funnel and fail to consider the value needed to incentivize users to keep coming back in between purchases. With a relatively high uninstall rate of 70% after two months, it is important for ecommerce apps to consider the value they can provide their users above and beyond shopping.

While there are a multitude of ways that apps can keep their users engaged, one way product teams are achieving this is through designing engaging, non-shopping focused features.

Considering your brand’s promise, the needs of your users (beyond buying products), and the unique utility a mobile app provides will allow you to come up with interesting feature ideas that can help retain users long term. A handful of retailers have done a great job designing apps that go beyond commerce and give the user a reason to remain engaged before and after a purchase. Here are a few examples:

Alex and Ani

Customer Insight

The Alex and Ani customer is not only interested in buying a physical piece of jewelry, but is looking to be inspired on a daily basis. This inspiration informs her purchases for both herself and the charms she may buy as gifts by connecting her with products that she feels represent her.

Solution

Prolific Interactive worked with the Alex and Ani team to tap into the customer’s emotional energy. We developed a feature called Daily Scroll which gives app users access to exclusive stories and motivation to carry them through their day. Each day, users get access to new content including inspirational stories, videos and quotes which closely match the Alex and Ani brand and the charm jewelry they sell.

Alex and Ani’s Daily scroll

Nike +

Customer Insight

Nike sells a large variety of shoes, athletic apparel, and equipment that cover a broad range of sports and activities. They understand that their customers are a diverse group with specific interests within their product catalogue, and that while one Nike customer may be interested in learning more about running events in their community, they may not have any interest in upcoming basketball shoe releases.

Solution

Nike got personal – the app’s primary feature is a personalized feed, based off of a short quiz that learns your interests as they relate to the entire Nike ecosystem. Users are asked a few questions about their gender, sport interests, shoe size and more so that the app can provide information such as product recommendations, news, events and release announcements that uniquely match the user’s interests. In addition to the feed, Nike also separately provides a traditional browsing experience for users who know exactly what they’re looking for. Personalized content beyond the scope of shopping is a value to the user that only the app can provide.

Personalized Feed on Nike + 

Walgreens

Customer Insight

With a large portion of their business being pharmacy related, the Walgreens customer is likely to be generally interested in finding easier and more comprehensive ways to connect with their health and wellness. Their customer already benefits from options that make filling prescriptions and buying medical supplies more convenient, but would additionally benefit from expert assistance with their medical care far beyond Walgreens’ normal scope of services.

Solution

While the Walgreens app has features to help the user fill prescriptions and make purchases, the app also includes many features designed to further assist users with managing their medical care. A few examples include the ability to video chat with a doctor, chat with a pharmacist, and a prescription reminder tool which allows users to enter the medications they take and set reminders on when to take them. Focusing on providing more comprehensive digital medical services to their users allows Walgreens to increase the odds their app remains on their customer’s devices the next time they go to fill their prescription.

Comprehensive offerings on Walgreens’ app

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Customer Insight

The Dick’s Sporting Goods customer values being active and is more likely than average to record their activity with a device such as an iPhone or a Fitbit. As a sporting goods brand, it is in their best interest to encourage active behavior, and reward their users for living a healthy lifestyle.

Solution

The Move feature on the Dick’s app allows users to link their Apple Health app or fitness tracker and gives rewards for the activity users take. With weekly challenges and rewards for daily step benchmarks, users are incentivized to keep active and return to the app to check their progress. Eventually, users can apply their points in the form of purchase discounts which can then be easily redeemed within the same app.

“ScoreCard” and “Move” features on Dick’s Sporting Goods’ app

Thinking Beyond Commerce

Overall, there are many ways to engage retail app users between purchases, and, with a bit of thought, companies can find ways to provide value in the large swaths of time users have between purchase needs. While a commerce focused MVP makes sense, consider the value in thinking about engagement-focused features and how they can improve long-term retention when developing a feature roadmap.

With about 1% of users converting each time they visit a commerce app, the longer you can keep customers coming back, the more value you will be able to generate over their lifetime.