Optimizing Your App For Purchases

Remember the days when we had to stand in a line and actually converse with a human being if we wanted to buy a coffee or a hamburger? Terrible. And remember when we had to sit down at a desk, crank up a laptop, and use a web browser if we wanted to book a flight? Sad! Thankfully those dark days are behind us; we can now do all that, and more, via the little miracles we call mobile apps.

And while we’ve been able to do this for quite some time (Starbucks springs to mind), some big brands, like McDonalds and Chipotle are only just ramping up their efforts. Pretty soon you’ll all be tapping away on your little magic boxes to order 40 chicken nuggets at 11pm on a Wednesday night, hoping you don’t bump into anyone who you think might still have some semblance of respect for you. It will just be a regular part of everyday life. In fact certain people reckon that mobile commerce is going to dominate online sales by the year 2021.

So if you’re in the business of selling pretty much anything, you might want to start considering how exactly you’re going to grab a piece of that pie. You need to answer what is in many ways the central question of mobile success:

How Do You Get People To Purchase Through Your App?

Let’s set the scene: your brand has spent a lot of time and money building an app, and even more money trying to get people to download it. Once they’ve downloaded your app, you have to get them to use it, and heck, even purchase something through it - otherwise what is the point? And I know it’s obvious, but it’s worth spelling out: if users aren’t buying through your app, they’re potentially buying through a competitor’s.

The key, like most things mobile, is an excellent user experience, whether it’s an app to order a coffee, booking a flight or buying something weird from Wish. Let’s have a look at some of the key things you can do to improve your app experience, and as a result encourage users to purchase through your app:

  • Educate Users & Explain The Benefits There’s a good chance that users might not even know that they can order through the mobile app. Incorporate some relevant education into your onboarding screens, so new users are aware from the get-go, and notify existing users with an in-app message if they have yet to use the purchase/order feature. Explain the benefits to them, such as skipping the queue - this will substantially increase conversions.
  • Optimize The Purchase Flow Casual users won’t become regular paying customers if it feels like a chore to use your app. It’s vital to identify and then remove any potential friction that slows down, or prevents, users from completing a purchase. Check funnel reports to see where the main drop offs occur along the purchase path, and work hard to change the problem areas. A/B testing is crucial to find out definitively what is working and what is not working (and what the answer is).
  • Account Creation We’ve written at length about this before - whether you decide to insist on up-front account creation, or wait until a purchase is actually taking place, is ultimately up to you. But make sure you have the data to inform your decision. . Ultimately purchasing is made easier once an account is created. Again, explain the benefits to the user when prompting them to do so - for example: booking is just a few, simple touches away, or that they can re-order previous items in the future without going through several pages of submitting information.
  • Promotions Marketing messages to encourage a purchase are obvious, but effective. For instance, target users that have never made a purchase with time-limited offers through a push notification. A rich push, with a visual flourish and buttons that deep-link to a purchase page are powerful drivers of conversion.
  • Recovery Messaging For users that have gone some way along the purchasing path, but for some reason or other have abandoned the process, recovery messaging is essential. Send a push notification at a reasonable time after the abandonment reminding Sally about the flights to Barcelona that she so very nearly booked - particularly if the price or availability of the relevant item is about to change.
  • Create A Habit We really are creatures of habit, and once somebody orders a cup of coffee through their mobile app a couple of times, chances are they’ll continue to do so. Be persistent (but not annoying) in your pursuit of encouraging an initial purchase through your app, and you’ll most likely nurture a loyal, regular user once you have got past the initial purchase hurdle.