Survey Shows Millennials Willing To Pay For Loyalty Programs

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Build Customer Loyalty

Free shipping and special discounts were top reasons for joining.

A recent survey by LoyaltyOne has found that 62 percent of respondents overall – and 75 percent of Millennials between 18-24 and 77 percent aged 25-34 —  would join a fee-based rewards program if their favorite retailer offered one.  Almost half (47%) of all respondents said paid programs have better rewards, and 61% of those 18 to 24 and 54% of those 25 to 34 said so.

The survey also found that free shipping (69 percent) and special discounts (67 percent) made the loyalty programs valuable to respondents.

Consumers reported that they gave high marks to paid loyalty programs like Amazon Prime or even membership-based warehouse retailers like Costco. The explanation is obvious: when loyalty programs require an upfront fee, it means that customers have already invested in the retailer and therefore is more likely to make purchases from them to recoup their investment.

A recent study from Millward Brown Digital found that Amazon Prime members convert 74 percent of the time on Amazon.com, according to, compared to 13 percent for non-prime members.

The LoyaltyOne study also found:

  • Nearly half (47%) said that fee-based programs offer better rewards than free programs, with a significantly larger number of millennials – 61% of 18-24 year-olds and 54% of 25-34 year-olds – reporting that fee-based rewards are better.
  • Slight more women (67 percent) than men (64 percent) reported that rewards are worth paying for.
  • Ranked by category, respondents ranked Grocery and Mass merchandise highest (35 percent), followed by Credit Card rewards (26 percent), Specialty Retail (13 percent), Travel (18 percent) and Restaurants (9 percent).
  • Meanwhile, roughly one-third of 18-24 year-olds (32 percent) and of 25-34 year-olds (34 percent) reported that they have never been offered membership in a fee-based program, compared to one-quarter for the general population. This would suggest a ripe opportunity for brands and retailers to target their loyalty programs.

“These results should attract the attention of brands considering a shift to fee-based loyalty programs as marketers look for ways to create competitive differences and lock in customer spend against a backdrop of waning program effectiveness and engagement challenges,” LoyaltyOne Consulting associate partner Lance Du Chateau said. “The traditional spend-earn-redeem reward program doesn’t make sense for all companies and customers, and fee-based value propositions increasingly are a topic of conversation. More marketers should explore this approach.”

Millennials Prefer Native Apps For Mobile Shopping

Christine Kerr

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Millennials Prefer Native Apps For Mobile Shopping

Native apps provided better experiences than companies’ mobile sites

A recent survey from Forbes and Stanford that polled more than 1,600 millennial consumers has found that native apps are the preferred tool for mobile shopping.

According to the results, almost half (47 percent) have downloaded at least one mobile shopping app to their smartphone, with Amazon, Etsy, Forever21, and Wanelo ranking as the most popular native app downloads. Millennials also favored apps from Forever 21, Starbucks, JackThreads, and Modcloth.

When asked why they downloaded native apps, 54 percent of the millennials said it was because they offer a better experience than the company’s mobile site, followed by discounts or lower prices (27 percent).  Just 2 percent said it was to shop while not on their computer, and 4 percent said using a native app was mandatory to purchase a particular product.  This seems counter to prevailing wisdom that states that native apps provide a more personalized shopping experience.

According to Retail Dive, native shopping apps are the latest tools to help retailers cash in as sales executed on mobile devices are expected to nearly double to $280 billion worldwide in 2015. This is particularly true in relation to attracting the millennial customers.

And as Integrated Solutions for Retailers reported, sales via mobile devices are driving revenue. For example,Amazon has announced that sellers on Amazon sold more than 2 billion items worldwide in 2014, setting a new record for sales.  In 2014, Amazon also introduced the Amazon Seller App to facilitate the management of sellers’ business on Amazon via their mobile devices.  And sellers from more than 100 different countries were able to fulfill orders on Amazon to customers in 185 countries by using Fulfillment by Amazon services.

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Canadian Small business, improve customer relationships by developing smartphone applications

Great Article in the Toronto Star as to how important Mobile Apps are for Business Owners.

Apps – those things you install on your smartphone or tablet to perform specific tasks – have traditionally been seen as a luxury offering available only to large or tech-savvy organizations.

Apps – those things you install on your smartphone or tablet to perform specific tasks – have traditionally been seen as a luxury offering available only to large or tech-savvy organizations.

A small business can’t easily afford to invest $10K – $40K to develop a customer-friendly app. But new products available now let small businesses purchase their app services on a monthly basis, just like internet and phone. These cover areas such as payments, scheduling, and appointments, messaging and marketing with coupons, deals and social sharing.  This means that, for the first time, apps are now affordable for small businesses — and they may be one of your best secret weapons to staying competitive.  With more than one million applications available across the Google Play and the Apple App store, and users spending nearly half a day each month using the programs, the message is clear: users like apps.  With this in mind, here are five reasons why a small business should consider investing in its own mobile application:

Customer service – providing information at the fingertips of your customers is a significant value add. From the convenience of wherever/whenever they are, they can find information that is essential to their purchasing decision.
Retention through brand recognition – Staying top of mind is easy when an app puts your company’s logo in front of your customers.
News and information updates – Whatever you need to share, an app gives you the ability to ensure a customer’s smartphone has up-to-date information. From holiday closures to extended hours to trending news and reviews or something as simple as construction they might want to avoid while making their way to your business, an app can be a valuable information resource.
Company image – Having your own app projects a professional, tech-savvy image. It shows you’re invested in the latest customer trends and can make your business appear larger or more well established than it may in fact be.
Push out messages for promotions/launches – Apps are a new direct line of communication with customers. You can push out notifications for promotions and new product and service launches, literally putting the news in the palm of your audience’s hands. Plus, these notifications tend to stand out from the stream of emails most people receive about the other guy’s promos.

What our Customers Have to Say!

We have recently received a great testimonial video from one of our customers.  Danny, the owner of Denim Industries has been with us for approximately 1 year, and has received a great response to his “Denim” app from his customers.  According to Danny ” it took a while to grow my user base, but now we have customers coming in for our ‘App Only’ promotions, and all of our regulars have really enjoyed the fact that they now earn rewards.  I even had one customer bring her friends from out of town to the store, and encouraged her to purchase a thousand dollar jacket and she took the points.”

Danny From Denim Industries

Sunshine Greer from Cuppa Sunshine Coffee & Tea had this to say: 

“OMG!!! Love the new feature that asks # of punches so we don’t have to punch it in so many times for multiple drinks!! awesome!! If you want to market this to coffee houses on the west coast (Seattle area), I can write you a coffee house specific review. You guys (maybe you are just a one man team?) are the best!!  Thanks,

Sunshine=) ”

Ahmad from Organico Vitamins :

“That is even more AWESOME. I am running out of adjectives.  Now I have to start thinking about putting together rewards format.  What great news to start our day. Everyone is excited and cannot wait.  Actually you may get some referrals from other merchants also. They had asked me who did my APP.  This is my top priority so everything is secondary. We need to have this off the launching pad as quickly as possible!”

Sam from Back to Cali:

“Having  our very own app on the app stores gives us that extra credibility, that has not only helped with customers, but with our suppliers. Before this, my emailed newsletters, were getting absolutely NO attention from my customers, any promotion taking place in store would have to be repeated because they weren’t opening my emails. NOW, however, I have customers visiting weekly with phone in hand asking me to point out the newest items (in store) showing on their app!

-Sam

Ben from Audio Basics:

My only regret when purchasing my custom app is NOT DOING IT SOONER! It’s given my business to a whole new level of sophistication. So visually & aesthetically pleasing, has my clients thinking we are an industry giant with multiple locations!!!  -Ben

Oral from Natural Touch Rehab:

At first look, I felt the idea of the app didn’t really fit for our clinic, but it’s actually much more than i envisioned!! The “notification’ feature has really helped us stay connected to our patients. Our patient response times have never been quicker! Every time a new update is available, me and my staff can’t wait to see what feature have been added! Good Job guys!

-Oral

 

5 Ways to Maximize your Mobile Strategy

For the first time, mobile devices outnumber people. This benchmark underscores a crucial fact for entrepreneurs: as the number of mobile devices rises, so do their importance.

Apple Will Constantly Remind iPhone Owners to Buy an Apple Watch

Eighty-five percent of consumers believe their mobile devices are essential to daily life. Clearly, the mobile interface is crucial for consumers, and the savvy businesses that hope to connect with them increasingly choose to do so via smartphones and tablets. A mobile strategy can help companies of all sizes reach more customers and help maintain a strong market presence.

But creating a mobile strategy involves more than building an app. A great strategy ensures that your in-person, mobile and traditional online experiences communicate a cohesive message that motivates customers to interact with your business. Here are five ways to maximize your mobile efforts:

  1. Design great experiences.

Make sure you deliver a customer experience that enables users to interact with your brand in new and exciting ways. Most users have experienced the frustrations of trying to navigate a mobile website, with distorted layouts and impossible navigation.  This is why they prefer a native app experience.  So when you are planning your app with your developer, make sure you address ease of use, and functionality.

  1. Make your strategy scalable.

Mobile App downloads are projected to double during the next 3 year period, and the smartphone market is forecasted to grow by more than 10 percent every year for the next four or five years. Your mobile strategy must be flexible, so allow and plan for rapid growth.

  1. Look to Unify User Experience.

When possible look to align user experience across multiple channels, make the visual of your app align with that of your website, online shop, and your bricks and mortar location.  Having the ability to link to your facebook, twitter, website and ecommerce sites is a definite plus.

  1. Find a strong team.

A bare-bones app can cost upwards of $10,000 to develop, and developing a more in depth experience can run in into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Having a solid team of developers is critical to building successful apps.  Look at the experience of your prospective developers, and if at all possible contact some of their existing clientele for feedback on support, and overall satisfaction.

  1. Extend your OWN Brand.

There are 2 different models that enable business owners today to launch a mobile strategy.  The first is to join a community of merchants inside of the app of the developer. Your company will appear geographically alongside other participating merchants. While you may expose your brand to potential customers that may have never heard about you, the probability is that you will not.  Why because users of these types of Apps, do not look for other merchants when using the loyalty aspect of the app at their businesses of choice.  Additionally you will be required to promote this app to your customers, and if you do gain some from your inclusion you may also lose some for the same reason.  The second and most effective is to develop your OWN custom app, where you do not share your customers with your competition, and you extend your own brand, with your logo and the credibility that comes along with having your own custom app.

Denim Industries is a great example of a merchant that tested several of the multi merchant platform, and eventually ended up going with their own mobile app, developed by Mass Mobile Apps.

A mobile strategy that’s tailored to your goals and connected to your customers’ needs will help you connect with your target audience on a deeper level, additionally a strong mobile strategy will also accelerate your company’s growth in a market place where mobile technology is quickly becoming an expected avenue to maintain and nurture customer relationships.

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Costs of Custom App Development

Figuring the costs of custom mobile business app development

How much are custom mobile business apps going to cost you? Here are some estimates, analyses and offers we’ve found that should help set some reasonable expectations.

General app development costs

This post is primarily about apps for for mobilizing business processes, but if you are interested in the more general topic of app development costs here are some pointers:

Business app development costs

Surveys

Update: A November 2014 Kinvey report based on a survey of CIOs and Mobile Leaders found that mobile application development is “costly, slow and frustrating.” According to this survey:

56 percent of mobile leaders surveyed say it takes from 7 months to more than one year to build one app. 18 percent say they spend from $500,000 to over $1,000,000 per app, with an average of $270,000 per app.

costspng

Source: Kinvey Survey

survey of IT professionals conducted in 2013 by AnyPresence, a backend-as-a-service company, asked about the initial cost of developing a typical mobile application. Over half reported spending more than three months and over $50,000  developing a typical app. Very nearly a quarter reported spending over $100,000.

Analyses

App development company Propelics specializes in iPad apps and posted a very informative blog post in December 2011 with a breakdown of iPad app development costs. This is recommended reading on the difference between consumer and enterprise apps. In a nutshell, Propelics describes three levels of complexity in enterprise apps corresponding to three price ranges:

  • Simple Enterprise iPad App Development Cost: $50,000 (+/- 20%)
  • Medium Enterprise iPad App Development Cost: $100,000 (+/- 20%)
  • Complex Enterprise iPad App Development Cost: $150,000 (and up)

Features that bump an app into the $100,000 range include a branded and highly tuned user experience, and integration that leverages your existing enterprise capabilities. For real-time integration, mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) infrastructure, you enter the $150,000+ category.

In a late 2012 webinar Propelics reiterated these figures in the context of mobile budget planning for 2013.

An October 2012 post provided some very detailed estimates by the CTO of 5App and his conclusion:

It’s safe to assume that using traditional development techniques to create a cross-platform enterprise app won’t come in under £100K.

He lays out a grid splitting out costs for design, development and testing on one, two or three platforms for four app categories.  Here are some example estimates (converted from GBP to USD for comparison to other estimates here):

  • An app that extracts data from a database and displays it in a simple list can be expected to take 4-8 weeks to create at a cost of $26,000 on a single platform.
  • An app with more complex server-side integration and offline data caching will probably take 8-12 weeks and cost $71,000 to develop for two platforms.
  • A full-scale enterprise automation app with integration to business processes will take anything from 3-6 months and may cost over $150,000 to develop on three platforms.
  • Assorted Quotes
  • An October 2012 analysis of why enterprise apps fail begins with this rather revealing anecdote:
  • The head of digital for a major UK interactive agency shut the door and slid the iPad across the table with a pained smile. Her team had developed an app for a major financial services firm. $140,000 and six months later they were about to start again. The client was, unsurprisingly, unhappy.
  • Kevin Benedict:
  • Companies are under tremendous pressure to develop and deploy mobile apps for their business systems, yet the traditional approach to mobile app development typically costs $250K+ and takes 6+ months for a single app.
  • StarMobile:
  • Based upon complexity, the initial costs to develop a native enterprise application for one mobile device platform can range from $50,000 to $250,000. Those costs grow exponentially if you need that app to support multiple mobile device platforms.

A Mobile App – A gift that keeps on Giving!

No longer hold the belief that building loyalty is through discounting, but rather by building a strong bond between brand and customer.  The connections that customers attach to a brand must also be considered as being added value.  Businesses that have already made their brand mobile and sociable have risen to the top by prioritizing loyalty and by developing emotional connections with their customer.

The customer is the heart of a business, and a good way to increase customer satisfaction is to keep the customers needs central to all business operations, from the top down.  Furthermore, by incorporating current technology to ensure a business provides the customer service that consumers expect, business owners can expect to turn that loyalty into increased revenue and a healthier bottom line.

The most anticipated holiday season of the year is only 30 days away businesses must be prepared to leverage this technology to increase customer retention which will translate into a successful Christmas season!

Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that your Holiday Season is the best one yet!

1.  Content Marketing – Keep it fun and reflective of the season, special promos and themes

2.  Discounted Shipping – Offer special rates for delivery

3.  Social Media – Make regular updates, especially during the holidays when usage is at its peak!

4.  Customer Service – OVER DELIVER!

5.  Support a Local Charity – Tis the season for giving…setup a promotion with a local charity

6.  Appify – Get a gift that keeps on giving – to your customers!  Mobile apps can update customers on current events and offers that your business has, and with features like push notifications, you will have access to your customers 24/7!

Referral Marketing

A loyalty program should keep your hard earned loyal customers YOURS while allowing a business to nurture that relationship unlike many generic programs that share your contacts with other businesses some may even be competitors in the hopes of bringing new customers through the door.  Many business owners are disappointed from the results generated from these types of loyalty programs for the simple reason, its only discounts not engagement and that brings the wrong type of customer through the door…a deal seeker who ultimately hurts a businesses bottom line. Businesses need to shift their way of thinking towards their most valuable asset their loyal customer, since it is their brand advocates that will bring new customers and shop more frequently with you and not a competitors.  A Mass Mobile customization app can create a loyalty program that will build brand affinity by including share-able aspects of your business that are key to the apps success for your business.

Mass Mobile gives business’ the ability to encourage customers to “SHARE” on all social media platforms and gives the customer the opportunity to earn dollars/points for behaviors like sharing on social media. A business can increase their persuasive impact and customers intention to purchase through engagement. Customers are more engaged when the customer finds value in the loyalty rewards offered creating brand affinity. Business’s must connect their loyalty programs to their social media profile since the integration of social media to apps & websites needs to be seamless  in order for customers to share. The value of referral marketing is just as significant as S.E.O  since it drives the number of new customer acquisitions by creating trust and loyalty. A business can connect to more potential customers by simply tapping into the customers circle of friends. By intising customers with an offer that is both exciting and rewarding it will enable a business to capture the attention of its customers to share and download. endorsements by a ‘friend’ are regarded positively since 84% of consumers trust recommendations from their friends. A business must have an effective referral strategy to meet their objectives in a loyalty app strategies may include: 1) share and win, 2) share and save (coupons sweepstakes), 3) give and get, 4) share and charitable donations.

The referral feature on mass mobiles loyalty app is extremely user friendly for easy sharing. Businesses need to encourage the help of its loyal customer to become its marketers through spreading the word to their circle of friends and by sharing the apps content. It is estimated that for every ten referrals a business will gain up to eight new customers from simply using a refer friend marketing program. The results are astounding with a 54% conversion rate since customers trust recommendations from their friends. Referral programs are the simplest way to successfully introduce your business to your customers own personal network of friends. This is a cost effective approach to market your brand by bringing the right customers through your door via loyal customers.

 

 

Are you Really Delivering?

The same rules apply for all businesses, customer service is key to being successful and profitable.  Earning the loyalty and trust of potential customers and keeping it can seem overwhelming.  With competition, many retailers are struggling to keep their doors open.  Small businesses and large chain stores have all been effected.  Some of the retailers that have found great success in the past have dramatically cut back or disappeared altogether.

“There’s a lot of fear how the landscape is changing, there are lots of rumors about who is weak and who will go down next,” retail analyst and former Eaton’s executive Jim Danahy says.

The retail landscape is changing at an alarming rate, along with customer needs and demands.

So now more then ever before a business that wants to be successful must provide the ultimate experience for its customers.  Along with implementing the basic strategies for exceptional customer service (http://visual.ly/25-skills-excellent-customer-service), technologies should be utilized to improve the overall experience, since it is relevant not only to the owner, and employees but also to the customer.

Most customers research on line before purchasing a product, checking out reviews, making product comparisons as well as getting the best price.  However, the customer will still most of the time purchase in store rather than online, because they value the “shopping experience”.  As a result retailers must engage their customers by keeping the lines of communication open, by improving and evolving based on their suggestions  of how to make their shopping experience a positive one.  It is important to encourage suggestions, ideas, and feedback from customers to remain viable in today’s retail world.

Technologies like loyalty apps are crucial, since loyalty and rewards go hand in hand.  Retailers who reward loyal customers for their repeat business , retain more customers than those retailers that don’t.  To keep remaining relevant it is essential to offer something of value as a bonus for choosing your brand over a competitor.   A loyalty app can make the shopping experience for its customer exciting, convenient and rewarding.