It is safe to say that mCommerce has now well and truly established itself as the next big retail frontier. In 2015 the UK mCommerce market equalled Asia’s sales conversion rate, firmly establishing itself as the largest mCommerce market in Europe and a dominant global player.

While desktops were traditionally the primary device for browsing, the number of global mobile devices users overtook desktop users in 2014 and consumers quickly began using them for retail browsing. In the UK 56% of all product views through eCommerce sites now take place on a mobile device – and this number is set to continue to increase as users move away from desktop browsing to handheld portable devices like mobiles and tablets.

The increase in handheld device usage and the prevalence of apps has meant that companies have another platform through which to attract and, more importantly, keep customers.  In terms of sales, apps now account for over a third of UK mobile purchases with the conversion rate over four times higher than mobile or responsive websites, demonstrating the retail power of a dedicated transactional app. Over the next 10 years mCommerce conversion will influence an amazing £112bn of retail sales.

However, less than 19% of the 500 leading UK retailers currently offer dedicated transactional apps. This is despite the fact that 18% of those retailers who do offer an app make over 50% of their total mobile revenue through it, making apps a real asset for retailers in 2016

So what makes a native app different from a mobile website?

Building a native app means building it in the phone’s own programming language, rather than in HTML, the language of websites. This means that the app can take better advantage of the phone’s computing power, allowing for custom, performant and unique user interfaces. Unlike HTML, it also lets users engage with your brand and content offline, as well as enabling targeted and personalised push notifications to bring users back into the app.

Unlike a mobile website, which can only be used as a browsing tool when the customer opens it, a native mobile app can always be active. A dedicated app enables retailers to use technology such as a handheld device’s geo location services whilst supporting an omni channel strategy to drive customers in store. Cross-platform conversion rates are now higher than ever and an app can not only be integrated with desktop transactions but can also be used in store, with easily accessible wishlists or suggested items.

An app can seamlessly integrate with a retailer’s current back end system to ensure global stock visibility in real time. They can provide previously huge quantities of relevant data on stock, product popularity and customer habits which are currently not provided by a mobile site.

Expect to see a huge increase in retailers launching their own dedicated brand apps in 2016 as it becomes one of the major retail platforms of the future and an indispensable sales asset.

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