Retailers have an opportunity with the influx of mobile and digital options.

Several years ago, apps used to increase conversion rates and boost average ticket prices were out of reach to smaller-size retailers and fashion brands as development tools and software platforms were costly, and required hefty investments.

But advances in technology have made native apps more attainable to small- to midsize retailers. Here, Marc Biel, chief executive officer of mobile web site and native app supplier Shopgate explains how his firm is helping retailers — especially midsize companies — leverage native apps to include increasing customer retention.

Marc Biel

Marc Biel, ceo of Shopgate. 

Shopgate, based in Butzbach, Germany, currently serves over 12,000 merchants worldwide. The company recently revealed the certified integration of its solution with Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

WWD: How does Shopgate’s platform serve as a customer retention tool?

Marc Biel: When it comes to customer retention, apps provide a clear advantage over mobile and desktop web sites. Because of their status as part of a user’s smartphone ecosystem, apps drive top-of-mind awareness simply by being present on a customer’s home screen.

Additionally, apps relieve many of the pain points of mobile buying, including time-consuming data entry, clunky user experiences and mobile web searches that can lead to competitor poaching. Additionally, push notifications provide an unprecedented opportunity to build relationships with customers as a direct communication channel, proactively driving engagement and awareness. We’ve found that apps yield 10.3 times higher retention rates than mobile web sites, leading many retailers to identify apps as the most valuable element of their mobile strategy.

WWD: For midsize retailers, what are the benefits that can be realized through Shopgate’s offering?

M.B.: Midsize retailers leveraging the Shopgate platform can reap all the benefits of apps — such as increased conversion rates, improved customer retention and more user-friendly mobile experiences — without the investment, lengthy time-to-market, or significant development implications of traditional app building. While not long ago the perks of apps were perceived to be a luxury only the world’s top brands could afford, they’re now accessible for midmarket retailers looking to break ahead of competitors with best-in-class mobile experiences.

WWD: Can you describe how your solution helps retailers improve the customer shopping experience?

M.B.: Our apps provide merchants with beautiful, customizable apps that can turn one-time visitors into loyal customers. Our app dashboard lets retailers change the look and functionality of their apps with a robust widget system that’s as simple as it is powerful.

This delivers a product to the end customer that’s beautifully streamlined for purchasing, puts the most relevant items available at a glance, and eases the order process with stored checkout information and payment simplifications such as Apple Pay and credit card scanner. Additionally, loyal customers value the direct communication they can receive from their favorite brands to stay on top of sales, restocks and special events.

Ultimately, an app provides a more personalized, relevant experience for the user, cultivating the customer’s relationship to the retailer.

WWD: Can you explain why it is important to have a mobile e-commerce strategy?

M.B.: E-commerce is overtaking traditional retail shopping — and mobile is quickly proving to be dominating over desktop spending. Within mobile, apps average three times higher conversion rates than mobile web sites and yield higher average order volumes and lower cart abandonment rates. Criteo’s 2016 Mobile Commerce Report outlined the mobile industry’s upward trend quite well, citing, “Mobile commerce has reached a turning point and is surpassing desktop purchasing as retailers continue to evolve their mobile shopping platforms.”