According to Econsultancy, 85% of consumers research online before purchasing offline.
As the online to offline loop tightens, it is inevitable mobile will play a major role in bridging the gap between them. Several publishers agree and the development of their high street based apps add additional weight behind this notion as do the download figures for the leading incentive site’s apps. With a combined total number of downloads exceeding 9m (Vouchercloud at 4.3m, Vouchercodes.co.uk at 3m, Quidco at 1m and TopCashBack at 1m), it’s apparent there is already an appetite from potential customers. It does beg the question though; with the obvious consumer interest and the heavy technological investment from publishers, can the retailers keep up? Well, simply put – they’ll have to.
The most successful apps provide reasons to review them up on a regular basis; whether it’s , finding the latest trends from top brands on Shopstyle, browsing the latest discounts and offers on Retailmenot or even seeking inspiration for a night out from Yplan, – each of these have an almost addictive nature to them. In order to maintain consumer interest in their apps, publishers are challenged with keeping their content fresh and interesting. They are seemingly at the mercy of their retailers and the freshness of offers/content made available to them.
Retailers themselves are in a difficult situation as the breadth of solutions available to track in-store can be overwhelming and everyone seems to be doing it differently. The mixture of barcode scanners (such as Eagle Eye Solutions), promotional buttons on tills and card linking (such as Birdback, Reward and Plan B) can be intimidating and no single solution offers the breadth of publishers that currently exists online (at least for the time being).
App developers who prefer a more innovative and less commercial approach have a place in the app ecosystem too. Nokia City Lens, for example overlays retail shops, restaurants and bars to your surroundings to give you a genuinely cool augmented reality while Red Laser’s barcode scanner encourages customers to browse shops and then get the best price online for what they want to purchase. It is clear that without monetisation options, the maintenance of apps is difficult longer term and it could see the emergence of more varied payment models. Not long ago, Quidco operated a pay per check-in service from their app, the scanning of receipt options offered by both the leading cashback sites show that the shift in payment model is already underway.
The potential that sits behind all high street apps is diverse and powerful. The geo-targeting when customers are near a particular store represents a new level of never seen before micro marketing while targeting based on handset or operator could kick off some aggressive marketing in certain sectors.
It would be fair to say that high street apps do have a place in the performance marketing mix but they are currently limited by the number of retailers able to provide offers, content and monetisation. Any retailer reading this that’s not technically capable should take notice as they’re already potentially losing ground!
- Edwyn McFarlane, Head of Publisher Services, Affiliate Window