Blog How mobile apps are shaping the future of the fashion industry

How mobile apps are shaping the future of the fashion industry

This year the number of smartphone users is expected to reach 2.87 billion and over 64% of consumers use their mobile for purchase decisions, even if that purchase is completed in-store. These figures present lucrative opportunities for many fashion retailers. But competition is tough, and consumers now expect brands to offer the best user experience across mobile web and apps. This article will break down the different types of fashion apps currently on the market, why your fashion brand needs a mobile app and how to apply a social media marketing strategy in conjunction with it.

3 types of fashion apps you need to know

Fashion brands can give users the opportunity to buy directly from them with their own mobile apps - but that’s not the only way consumers are finding new looks and building online communities. Here are three types of fashion apps, each of which offers a slightly different user experience.

  1. Discovery platforms

    In the world of fashion apps, discovery platforms focus on connecting designers with consumers, enabling users to browse products from several retailers. Discovery platforms don’t usually have their own inventory that can be sold direct to consumers. Instead, they are used to find inspirational content and connect with a community.

    ShopStyle is a great example of a discovery app where users can search products, save their favorites and get updates on availability. In addition to working with top brands, ShopStyle aims to empower influencers to create and grow their businesses.

    Another example of a popular discovery app is The Hunt, where users can “hunt” for new ideas and shop for products. These products are pre-loved items owned by other users, who receive80% commission with every purchase.

  2. Personal shopping apps

    Personal shopping apps - you guessed it - offer each user a personalized shopping service via mobile. These differ from discovery apps because they tailor and select products based on a user’s specifications. For example, Lookiero allows users to receive five items that have been selected by a personal shopper. Users can then try on the items in the comfort of their own homes, select the products they want to keep and send back any unwanted items.

  3. Universal shopping cart apps

    These are fashion apps that enable users to browse products from several merchants, add them into one cart, and make a single payment. Crucially, each retailer’s inventory must be synced to ensure each item is available. Lyst is perhaps the largest example, letting users search thousands of online fashion stores and making them available to purchase in one place. By reducing the number of online destinations required to browse different products, this type of app can make it less likely for shoppers to abandon their cart midway through their purchase journey.

Why your fashion brand needs a mobile app

There are several critical reasons why fashion brands should invest in the development of a mobile app, if they haven’t already. Here, we’ll outline the most essential benefits that will help you stand out from the pack.

Mobile app vs. mobile web

According to eMarketer, 85% of time spent browsing Amazon products happens in-app. While the exact ratio will vary from brand to brand, it’s a strong indicator that users want access to mobile apps in addition to mobile web and desktop. It’s also essential to connecting with younger audiences, with 61% of millennials downloading retail apps and 58% prefering to purchase through apps rather than mobile web.

In addition to providing users with their preferred experience, it’s also important to consider the additional benefits mobile apps have over mobile web:

  • In-app messaging: In-app messaging gives you another way to communicate with the user and push them further down the funnel. Messages could be anything from an abandoned cart message to a notification about your newsletter. When done right, in-app messages improve the user experience and retain users for longer.
  • Push notifications: Another way in which you can engage with your users once your app is installed is through push notifications. Unlike in-app messaging, push notifications do not require users to have your app open in order for messages to be received. As long as the user has not opted-out of push notifications in their settings, these messages can be seen on their device’s home screen.

Branding opportunities

Fashion brands gain several branding opportunities by developing their own mobile app - for example, by keeping users up to date on your latest collections and what’s currently popular with your users. By offering a satisfying user experience, you can gain customer loyalty and spread awareness of your brand image. This can be done through:

  • Personalizing the user experience: Personalization is a great way to ensure customers feel valued. An overwhelming 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when they are offered a personalized experience and 88% of U.S. marketers report measurable improvements when experiences are personalized. Examples of app personalization include addressing the user by their name and presenting them to content curated for them based on their previous activity.
  • Rewarding your most loyal customers: There’s no better way to show your appreciation for loyal customers than giving them something in return. Discounts are the easiest and most effective way of doing so. This creates a win-win scenario where you can reward users while also increasing sales and retaining customers.
  • Responding to user feedback: Implementing changes to your mobile app based on the feedback received from your users is a great way to show users that you care. This can range from troubleshooting to adding specific products to your inventory. For example, an app that offers a universal shopping cart may be asked to include a specific brand in its offering.

Reaching your target market

Data analysis

Your mobile app can be used as another way to reach your target market. It can also be used to identify and target niche markets. Thanks to the vast amount of data acquired through apps, you can drill down to find emerging trends. While you should already know your brand’s target market, it could be that there are demographics interested in your brand that aren’t being targeted.

Paid user acquisition

Fashion brands that have developed a mobile app can build their audience with paid user acquisition. By gathering performance data, you can learn from your campaigns and target the most valuable users. If your app is community-based, this can also be a great way to increase user activity and user-generated content.

When implementing ads to acquire users, it’s important to have accurate attribution reports and sufficient protection from mobile ad fraud. Attribution reports offer essential insights such as the true performance of your ad spend, the extent of your organic traffic and how long it takes users to convert. To learn more about performance measurement and how it can be used to optimize the performance of your paid user acquisition, see our guide.

Developing a social media marketing strategy for mobile apps

The average user spends 142 minutes on social media every day, and there are 2.5 billion monthly active users on Facebook alone. Needless to say, social media has become an essential part of mobile app marketing and all brands, everywhere, must use it to their advantage. Moreover, fashion mobile apps have the additional benefit of content that is visually stimulating and engaging. Here’s how you can use social media to your advantage.

Social media integration

Key to your social strategy is considering the ways in which users should be able to share content from your mobile app on social media. For example, if you have a discovery platform and want users to share their most wanted items on Instagram, you should ensure the users can perform this action with the least amount of clicks possible. Similarly, if a user is selling items on your platform, they will also want easy access to their social media audience.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing involves working with an individual who has social reach that aligns with your target audience. Research suggests 65% of influencer marketing budgets will increase this year, with 17% of companies planning to spend more than half their marketing budget on influencers. The pay off for brands can be huge, so it’s worth getting involved.. There are several ways you can work with social media influencers to spread brand awareness and bring more users to your app.

  • Freebies: Gifting social media influencers products to enjoy and share with their audience is a simple but effective way to market your products. Although you may have less control over the way the influencer presents your product, this is still a smart and cost-effective way to get attention from your target audience.
  • Product placement: To ensure you gain exposure with an influencer’s audience you can enter into a paid agreement. This is a great way to spread brand awareness and appeal to a target market.
  • Look books: Influencers can use your app to create lookbooks and share this activity across their social media channels. The audience will then want to access your content, whether it’s in-app or on your blog, to see this curation.
  • Video reviews: If you want influencers to go into detail about your products you can pay them to film reviews and try-on videos focused on your brand. This can be a great way to communicate why your product is worth buying. For example, if you have a sustainable fashion brand and want to share this message with your target audience, an influencer known for advocating for sustainable fashion is a perfect fit.

Social media content strategy

Maintaining a social media presence means generating regular content. Importantly, you’ll need a blog that shares your brand’s story that can be shared across several social media channels. This is also a great way to share your company’s mission at length. For example, here’s how ShopStyle is sharing an update related to working from home in style.
A smart way to share engaging content while also rewarding brand loyalty is to include user-generated content in your social media strategy. This can be an effective way to build trust with your audience - particularly when 90% of shoppers say authenticity is an important part of their decision to support a brand.

Creating a mobile app offers fashion brands the opportunity to capitalize on global trends and gives marketers more ways to reach their target audience. Customers also gain an optimized user experience and more reasons to be loyal to the brand. For best results, you should create a streamlined user journey that is seamless even if the user wants to use mobile web and mobile apps at different times. To learn more about mobile marketing, read our guide for “How to streamline the user funnel and boost sales with social commerce trends in 2020.” You may also be interested in “How to spend your app retargeting budget.”

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