Retail | The evolution path of shopping experience


Ever given thought if you shop for necessities or luxury? Ever thought about what measures, if it is at all your necessity or luxury? The whole concept of shopping revolves around the fundamentals of demand and supply, whether existing or created. Together when you sum it up, in your day-to-day life, we call it retail. Today, the scope of retail includes supplying through various channels for existing as well as created demand. For retail, economics works in a circular flow where not just supply follows demand but also demand follows supply when portrayed in the most luring way possible.

Indian e-commerce built a business for about 16.4$ billion last year, how? Was there ever an existing demand for such a huge number? No. This becomes an Augmented demand. The demand which didn’t exist but was created and so was the shopping experience. You may or may not have ever given a thought to why you buy a particular brand of apparel or a particular biscuit, per se. For your demand for cloth or hunger, there exist several retailers. But the reason you pick that one particular brand which you do is only because you believe that you need can be satisfied the best by them only. This preference that you think you own is strategically planted in your mind using the research on consumer behavior as a psychological weapon. A similar practice is followed by mobile applications where they use consumers’ understanding to create loyalty and retention for their particular brand. This is the strategy that every retailer uses to create an augmented shopping experience. Did it ever occur to you that Xiaomi was only available for online purchases through Flipkart? This was Xiaomi’s strategy to give a unique supply destination to its consumers thereby building curiosity and a monopoly marketplace which was one big reason driving more consumers to buy this particular phone.

Ever wondered a world without trade, where would you go to get anything?  To cater to the basic need of supplying directly to consumers, retail walked into our lives. Shopaholic or not, we all see ourselves indulged in the act of shopping somewhere around the day. We might have different requirements like apparel, food, antiques, travel packages and so on. Also, the decision to shop may depend on our state of mind, emotions or money. What we all needed was a single destination for a similar or differentiated shopping experience. To offer in-store excursions, one segment of products at one destination or maybe more, bricks and mortar came into existence. The idea was to give the consumer an ideal place to go to when in need of any particular commodity or service. All it took from them was time and a little inconvenience. It was only last Thursday, I called up my friend to accompany me for shopping for apparels when they revert I got was “Why go out when we can order it online? We can always return it if it’s not a perfect fit!” What happened here is what we have been noticing around for quite some time now. There has been a significant shift to ecom wherein people enjoy the similar trade functionalities but at the tip of their own convenience. For example, does the word “home delivery” attract your attention? The word “home delivery” is like an angel to all consumers leveraging their laziness to an addictive comfort. Ecom is about both convenient as well as comfortable buying. The consumer can now access more information about the products as well as services online with reviews and content than they did earlier through friends or a sales executive at the store. While ecom was in the spotlight, mcom slowly made a marketplace of its own. Do you remember when and how mobile became so important?

Where the shift from bricks and mortar to ecom is pretty evident, it never crossed our minds that m-commerce is growing faster than e-commerce. But why is mobile becoming so significant in the first place? In the most simple words, Mcommerce is basically trading using mobile. One reason why mcom is now a need more than a luxury is that more and more people are now on mobile. According to a report by Mary Meeker’s  2014 Internet Trends report,  smartphone usage has consistently grown over the past few years, so much so that 30% of mobile users in the US are smartphone users. Although 30% doesn’t may seem a lot when you are talking about 5.2 billion population, it changes the entire game.

Did you know, Starbucks earned $1 billion through mobile transactions in 2013? A retail mobile app is a double-edged sword which at times is a shift but also at other times is an aid to bricks and mortar which was the case with Starbucks. Starbucks made an app to take orders, maintain loyalty points, etc. which not only improved their sales but also consumer engagement with personalized push notification in Android and iOS device. Also, Latitude reported that a good mobile experience improves brand perception for 61% of people. Not only does a retail app has to focus on mobile experience but also beyond the app experience which we refer to as post-sales experience which drives retention to our retail app more than any other strategy. Our feedback and review feature is another post-sales experience call to action.

This action is a measurement criterion for our understanding of the level of consumer satisfaction we are catering leading reasons behind leading or lacking retention for our app. With Myntra followed by Flipkart going only mobile, we can sense a pattern which our retailers are following to win the race they have all been running in. The whole idea is that the mobile app can provide a better experience for consumer as well as retailer. How? For example, Marian Bartlett came up with a mobile app called Emotient which could scan a consumer’s emotion based on artificial intelligence & pattern recognition to predict whether the consumer is going to buy more of a product or not.

Retail apps are genius. They track your decision thinking process and accordingly help you in finding the right products for yourself. One day I kept thinking why do I see suggestions for formal shirts all the time when I open eBay or why Italian food when I open Zomato? Ever wondered why you often find suggestions for one particular genre of product repeatedly? This is because your app is facilitating predictive algorithms at the back end based on decisions you have made previously. If you have been thinking, some miracle happened when your app suggested you just what you were looking for, in that case, it is a miracle. The miracle is called audience intelligence. The recommendations you get on your retail app is the focal point of your experience which drives a connect between the retailer and the consumer. Amazon, for example, says “Someone who liked this, also liked this”. These analytics drive sales conversions within apps and are significant to the functionality of the app because this is how you measure the patterns of your consumer behavior. Another important aspect is e-payment gateway and security which help in eradicating physical involvement on the consumer front and supports the application as a part of an end to end feature.

Affle Appstudioz has a vision. A vision to drive consumers towards an enriching experience of retail. Where mobile apps are giving consumers comfort, convenience and confidence to buy, we are only trying to deliver an experience which is also congenial. Our perspective is consumer-oriented and focus is to give our consumer a luxury at the cost of necessity.  In a similar context, we built an app called, Stylematch where our consumer could try apparels virtually and identify what suits them the most. Not only was this serving a significant purpose, but this app was also driving curiosity and interest from our consumer’s end. Another app called Desidime has been built to capture like-minded people and build a community for them to connect socially. Any developer can build something which gives different features, only real-time analysis can give our consumers something that they will enjoy, which is what we want to deliver.

Given the trends, we have come a long way from bricks and mortar to retail apps but our focus has been in dynamic directions. Our retailers offer shopping at one click using technology and behavioral economics to channelize it in a profitable direction. We are directed towards an idea to give our consumers a portable retail marketplace through an app which they will love to explore every day.

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Retail | The evolution path of shopping experience

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