Malcolm Carroll, Director, BlueFinity
The impact of Covid-19 has been profound and has caused many industry sectors to rethink important aspects of their business models. This has probably been felt as strongly in retail and related logistics as in any other industry.
The consequences and repercussions of lockdowns have been debated at length, especially with regard to changes in customer buying behavior that will be temporary and those that are likely to be a more permanent change in their buying habits.
What is clear is that the waves of imposed restrictions have accelerated the rate of traction of new models of behavior to find a more permanent footing and thus become “the new normal”.
The rapid growth in online shopping has resulted in a proliferation of updated websites to support this more effectively. However, while these websites may support the activity and process of online selection and purchase, they are not necessarily able to provide many of the functions considered today as crucial for the introduction into smooth and efficient online shopping experience. They are also unable to meet the need for a cross-channel retail strategy, especially as the effects of Covid-19 begin to wear off and shopping streets and malls begin to wear off. are once again becoming an ever-vital part of retailing.
How Apps Modernize Retail
This is where the introduction of applications for mobile phones, tablets and desktops, often associated with a website, becomes increasingly valuable.
The apps can not only meet the demands of e-commerce, but also solve the critical problem of customer retention. The apps encourage customers to return to a chosen supplier instead of looking for other websites where they can select a competitor. Loyalty is a big factor in department stores and malls, but it often gets lost in the online world.
The often-cited analogy is that “accessing an app is like walking into a store to browse and purchase an item, whereas choosing from multiple websites is like being in the middle of a marketplace with multiple sellers trying all of them. to sell you the same item. . “
Now, in addition to supporting a multi-channel retail experience for customers, applications can be designed to meet the demands of retail, warehousing, logistics, management and store operations personnel. . Importantly, they can be designed to work with sophisticated EPOS and EFTPOS operations within the application, or as a pathway and integrated into a company’s website.
There are other benefits for retailers who have an app. These include increased security, location-based communication with your customers, integrated use of telephone / computer technology (GPS, Bluetooth), information retention and display, personalization of the shopping experience and a much higher conversion to purchase rate than websites. It’s clear to see why retail apps are quickly becoming a must-have rather than a nice to have.
Additionally, apps that extend a retailer’s online presence aren’t just for department stores and vendors. New no-code / low-code application development platforms make applications accessible to all outlets, regardless of their size and level of experience with the technology.
Organizations of all levels, from start-ups to the largest multinationals, can now easily and design their own applications with the design, usability and brand placement they need.
The new generation of low-code platforms make what was previously a difficult and expensive option to build and deploy an application, very affordable, accessible and viable for all retailers.
Using low code technology, retailers can now design and deploy affordable applications that specifically meet their needs and their customers’ needs, without having to employ specialist application developers to do so and instead, using their existing staff.
The technology offers simple and familiar features including point-and-click, drag-and-drop, and options to select the development process, supported by a wide array of functional routines and widgets that anyone can use.
The results are often sophisticated and fully functional applications that can run and are optimized for any device and operating system (phones, tablets, watches and TVs using IOS, Android and Windows as well as Windows desktops. , Linux and Apple). They are even able to fully integrate with the wide range of databases (SQL, Oracle, DB2, MultiValue, etc.) that retailers already use and support multiple types of databases within the same application.
Many retailers have been able to create very effective applications without any custom programming. For retailers with a more technical background, modern platforms do not limit any customization, enhancements, and future developments so that users can add to their application design, and reuse and incorporate routines and code that they already can. to have.
The new generation of no-code / low-code platforms allow the user to build applications as web, hybrid, or native applications, with the ability to deliver fully structured source code (typically Visual Studio) for a easy access and further development, as well as offering the ability to include custom code or 3e party components as needed.
These platforms open up entirely new possibilities for retailers, allowing them to deploy an application that is right for them and their customers, without a lengthy and costly development process.
The right platform choice will now also include full retail support, providing multiple product screens and shopping experiences, customer information retention, shopping carts, and multiple payment and delivery options. In fact, the entire store in one app!