Have you thought that just 20 years ago there were no smartphones? The web industry was focused on purely PC and laptop users. The emergence and rapid spread of smartphones have dramatically changed not only our daily lives but also the online industry. To date, more than half the world uses smartphones and the volume of mobile and tablet traffic surpasses the volume of desktop traffic. That is why a great internet marketing strategy for famous brands as well as small businesses involves more than just a mobile-friendly site. A responsive design is no longer enough to win modern customers with smartphones.
A business with a strong base of regular clients and a mobile-optimized website has everything needed to move forward on the Internet. Harnessing the potential of mobile devices can quickly distance you from competitors and attract new customers. This is about apps.
What is a smartphone without apps? It is a simple mobile device that allows making calls. Apps turn this device into an indispensable assistant. Look into your smartphone and count the number of apps there is. There are apps for all occasions: some of them are for hailing and paying for a taxi, some help to travel, some even prepare students for life on campus, and some are for shopping. A smartphone with shopping apps in hands of a buyer is a shop-assistant and an expert in discounts and best deals.
If Google Analytics of your store shows visits from mobile devices around 50 per cent of total visits it's time to start thinking about looking for a mobile app development company for creating an app. The existence of ironclad statistics is hard to ignore.
Here are trends of ecommerce mobile app development to watch in 2017.
Augmented and virtual reality in retail
Impressed by an augmented reality of Pokemon GO? If you don't know what an augmented reality is, just in case you're a modern Robinson Crusoe who has been stranded on an uninhabited island for a past few years, briefly, it is a technology that allows you to see virtual things in the real world by means of a smartphone's screen. As for a virtual reality, it is a technology that simulates our real or completely imaginary world with the help of a high-performance equipment.
The value of VR and AR in eCommerce. With online shopping, customers are unable to test the product personally and they have to imagine what it would feel like in hands. AR and VR technology helps customers transform their imagination into reality.
Retailers successfully adopt AR and VR for promoting their products enabling consumers to get a feel of an item before making a purchase. For example, Volvo launched their Reality app to immerse users into a virtual reality test drive and the interior of the car. Lego stores have special AR kiosks called "Digital Box". AR kiosks help customers to understand what the assembled product looks like. Fashion brands experiment with virtual try-ons allowing shoppers to see how items would fit without having to step into a store.
Difficulties to overcome. It is necessary to provide clients with the exact 3D copies of items or the environment which is not always possible.
Although AR and VR technologies are far from being the dominance of ecommerce app development, they are definitely among most promising mobile app trends in 2017.
Payments within apps
In most cases shopping with smartphones on websites designed for a desktop is challenging and sometimes impossible. Product images are not shown adequately on a mobile screen, design elements are tiny and it is difficult to hit the buttons "select size", "view product details", "add to bag", and what is the worst thing "pay now". Payment is a key step in conversion of a website visitor into a buyer and it deserves special attention in the development stage.
Once ecommerce apps sell a physical commodity then they should accept payments and make this process for users as simple and fast as possible. The tendency is that customers want to use different mobile payment systems like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay to pay for purchases within apps, online and in brick and mortar stores.
The near future. Every sign indicates that in a few years people will be able to pay by voice commands. Amazon is working to develop a new feature that will help their voice assistant Alexa to distinguish individual users by their voice. This feature will allow linking a voice print to a specific user to prove his identity. An Amazon Echo account owner will be able to restrict access to commands by a voice print. For example, with the help of voice of one of the adults in the house, it will be possible to give Alexa a command to pay with a credit card or to turn on a coffee machine.
The dialog is a natural way of interaction between people. That's why technology companies specializing in Internet-related products offer chatbots to supplement people in their work, for example in customer support. Such programs simulate a conversational partner. Chatbots are not the future but an important step towards it.
Let's suppose a customer wants to buy a smart robotic vacuum cleaner or yoga clothes online, he goes to a website, looks around until he finds what he wanted, and probably then he would purchase it. If an online store makes a chatbot, customers would be able to ask what they are looking for simply on a store's page on Facebook.
There's room for growth. Modern chatbots have very primitive functionality which is far below the efficiency of human. Nevertheless, bots are improving and now they enable customers to request contact information of a business, to get the list of items in stock, to register with a dentist online. It looks like chatbots will replace customer service staff soon.
To sum it up
The mobile ecosystem is progressing at phenomenal rates. Do you think it is late to enter the mobile market? Just on the contrary. It is difficult to find more suitable time to develop your ecommerce mobile app than now.