It's about time that we cover today's mobile marketing topic about downloadable, mobile applications.
For the record, we're not big fans of mobile applications for retail stores simply because you have to download them, install them, and in many cases you also have to configure or log into them. That can take from a minute to 5 minutes depending on the size of the application and how difficult it is to find in your phone's "app store."
We feel the retail store should focus their mobile strategies on mobile websites instead of an application. The mobile sites are much less expensive to create and maintain, and your customers appreciate it more too.
Back in March 2012, Nielsen released their findings on the popularity of mobile apps vs. mobile websites. During the holiday 2011 season they measured Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target, and Walmart and found that smartphone users preferred mobile retail sites 51 percent to 28 percent for smartphone apps.
The consumer just didn't want to take 5 minutes to download an app, only to use it once.
So, for the local jeweler, this seems like a good way to save marketing money--just create the mobile website.
If the statistics aren't enough to convince you not to create an app; we'll also tell you that apps created for the iPhone will not run on an Android. This means double the development costs.
There is a cool company called Mobile Roadie (www.mobileroadie.com) that has an app creator, but they charge a monthly service fee of at least 297 to create an app that would be retail store usable. After you create your own app Mobile Roadie will help you get approved for sale on the Android and iPhone. The process is long, and it really is cost prohibitive for jewelers.
Last year we heard that Cheri Dori was releasing a mobile app that could be shared by multiple jewelers. Cheri Dori created a fantastic app that shows 3D rings and virtual hands to modal the jewelry. It really is nice. Cheri Dori is also "branding" the app for each individual store.
We were intrigued when we heard about the individual store branding, because if that was true, Cheri Dori would be publishing a unique app for each store, and having it approved through Apple and Google. It turns out not to be the real situation, the app is simply location aware.
When you load it onto your smartphone it asks permission to read your current location, then it displays the closes retail jewelry carrying the Cheri Dori line. In other words, they've taken the "Retailer Locator" to a new level. Instead of asking for a zip code, it can automatically read your location.
This sounds great, until you consider that Cheri Dori is asking retailers to announce the app on their retail store's website.
Imagine this scenario: You're a retailer that spends a lot of money on SEO, and you even have e-commerce. Hundreds of organic visitors come to your website every day, and you even have sales. Now you put a link to the Cheri Dori app on your home page and a few users download the app daily. Those users like the rings they see and look for your store's information inside the app. Except they don't find your info; they find another local jeweler.
In the end it was your valuable SEO that found the customer, and the customer downloaded the app. But since your store is in Seattle, and the customer was in Orlando, you lost the e-commerce sale to a local jeweler in Orlando.
We believe that more vendors will start offering apps like Cheri Dori has. Before you push the app in your own store you need to check out how it works, and that it's something you agree with. We never like to see a retailer lose a customer to a vendor's zip code search. These mobile apps are a rebirth of the same situation using more advanced technology.