Don’t Lose Out On Millennial Buying Power With A Bad Mobile App

1VP PushBy 2017, Millennials are set to become the generation with the strongest buying power in the U.S., with $200 billion burning a hole in their collective pocket. Born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, Millennials are in many ways the first truly digital and mobile-driven generation for retailers to contend with. But, while more than 85% of them own a smartphone, a recent Accenture study found that rather than shopping consistently online, Millennials actually prefer the in-store brick-and-mortar experience.

The question of how retailers can capitalize on this contrasting pairing of behaviors can be answered not just by deploying mobile applications, a tactic many have been using to varied effect for the last few years, but by launching mobile applications that offer seamless location-based services to shoppers as they tread that thin line between mobile and in-person engagement.

Targeting Millennials In Real Time, On Their Own Turf

Location-driven customer engagement is here to stay. With up to 85% of retail locations operated by the Top 100 U.S. retailers expected to implement beacon technology by 2016, retail marketers need to provide up-to-date information and coupons to shoppers at the right place and at the right time now more than ever.


Picture this: a mid-level clothing retailer now has all the tools it needs to deploy an app that scans the shopping mall where it is located for app users. The app can identify Maria, a 26-year-old professional with an annual income of $53,000, as she arrives in the parking lot. The app can pinpoint Maria’s location in the shopping mall throughout the day as she browses, and also see that she most recently engaged with the brand three months earlier when she bought two blouses and a piece of jewelry through the app’s e-Commerce feature.

The app can also see that Maria responds most readily to coupons or offers that help her build out her work wardrobe, but only when the offer is for a 30% reduction or more, and only if it speaks to her in a chatty, familiar tone.

The challenge is bringing all of this data together in a timely enough manner to drive a real-time experience for Maria. In a best-case scenario, the reactive application would alert Maria as she entered the vicinity of the retailer, and it would lead not just to a sale, but also to a positive customer experience. This simple mobile interaction would result in Maria thinking of the retailer as a “helpful brand” with a seamless, personalized approach.

While mobile applications are the central vehicle for this kind of real-time, personalized communication that spans Millennial in-store and digital preferences, they can also very easily derail a positive customer experience. And that power all balances on smooth app performance.

The Problem Of Data Fatigue

These days, consumers have limited tolerance for apps that aren’t at the top of their game. Nearly half, 48%, of users would simply uninstall a slow app, while 32% would look for an alternative. Apps don’t have much time to prove themselves to consumers, either, as 80% of users say they will only attempt to use a “problem app” three times or less before giving up.

The margin of error for mobile apps is incredibly slight, and the stakes are high, given the huge amounts of data many need to make sense of in real time. No wonder so many apps slow down and crash in the face of serious data fatigue.

Needless to say, the retail app on Maria’s mobile phone has many data ducks to get in a row to function properly and close its interaction with Maria, both in terms of a sale and a positive customer experience. In a worst-case scenario of low performance, there is the potential for the app to become so overwhelmed by the data inputs (that Maria is nearby and available for a real-time promotion) that it never sends the notification at all. Instead, the influx of real-time data proves to be too much, and it crashes. Maria would never even be aware of the opportunity for engagement, or to buy that workwear at a 40% reduction.

So, where does this data backup that’s threatening app performance stem from?

Unintelligent Data Distribution

Many real-time, data-driven apps are limited by how backend data is being delivered, and not having “sympathy” for unreliable networks such as the Internet. When faced with large swathes of location and customer data, most solutions simply stream all available data to the mobile app, but this makes it difficult for the app to sift through it and identify the information that is actually relevant. This is an unnecessary step in the process that can lead to a serious functionality slowdown or even repeated crashes of the entire app — which translates to a quickly depleted user base.

Intelligent data distribution techniques help with this exact problem, making them essential for successful retail apps leveraging real-time, contextual data across a highly unpredictable network, the Internet. If the backend can send on the most relevant and recent data, instead of everything, data does not overwhelm the application or network.

With intelligent data distribution, applications are better able to contend with network interruptions and device variability. This ensures highly performant, responsive apps that can drive positive customer experiences and build brand loyalty among Millennials, a digitally native group of big spenders.

The Millennial wallet represents an incredible opportunity for retailers, both in terms of generating greater revenue and being able to innovate and design mobile-led sales and marketing strategies. But the customer experience produced by those strategies must be seamless and positive, or retailers have the potential to undo all of the relationship-building work they’ve done to date — by either missing an opportunity for engagement when an app crashes, or turning a positive experience into a negative one through slow performance or even a crash due to inefficient data distribution. Retailers and marketers alike must recognize that it takes more than just having an app to make a mobile strategy pay off with Millennials — that app must also be highly performant and responsive.


Ross Garrett is Director of Product Marketing at Push Technology, where he is responsible for market strategy and positioning of Diffusion & Reappt Internet Messaging products across various industries. He has over 10 years of product leadership experience in the API space, most recently with Axway, and before that CA Technologies & Layer 7. Ross advises Fortune 500 companies on how Internet Messaging can help to deliver an open, scalable and secure digital platform for their business.


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