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eCommerce Next: Interview with Calvin Carter, Founder and CEO of Bottle Rocket

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Businesses are incorporating new digital approaches to deal with the COVID pandemic. Team eCommerce Next interviewed Mr. Calvin Carter, Founder, and CEO of Bottle Rocket to get more insights on app adoption. Following is our interview with him:

1. How have consumer attitudes shifted since the pandemic took hold?

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, we have witnessed a transformation of consumer behavior like no other. As the world was thrust into a virtual living, a completely new set of habits and needs emerged overnight, including how a consumer regards brand loyalty. Earning consumers’ wallet share is now harder than ever before, as preferences for convenience and value take precedence. As a result, every business is questioning what it now takes to best serve its customers in this hyper-connected era – the answer is enhanced experiences across the board. Focus on the pain points and friction they experience doing business with you, then systematically eliminate those issues using smart, proven techniques that leverage the right technology.

2. How has the pandemic impacted app adoption?

In this new normal, mobile devices are leading the charge as the most preferred channel of engagement between customers and brands. From the moment of download through to conversion and engagement, mobile is increasingly an essential part of daily life, fuelled by customers’ ongoing reluctance to interact with staff or visit physical stores.

Even prior to COVID-19, an overwhelmingly large percentage of the population fell into a category that we like to refer to as ‘Connected Customers’. The pandemic radically accelerated Connected Customers’ preferences while also accelerating the need for digital touchpoints among all consumers.  In today’s world, it’s imperative that a brand offers customers a safe and convenient way to access products and services, and for the foreseeable future, this means digital touchpoints are key.

3. What are App Clips?

Home to nearly two million apps, the App Store ecosystem is booming. Finding new apps to download has become more challenging for consumers, who spend almost all of their time using just five different apps. Lack of visibility is therefore making it difficult for retailers to convince users to download their app and perform a valuable action worthy of returning to the brand or the app. A new mobile feature called App Clips has been created and launched by Apple to eliminate this friction and showcase a specific portion of the brand’s app to users without having to fully download the app or even know one exists.

An App Clip is a small part of an overall app experience, designed to be discovered the moment it is needed. App Clips load on mobile devices within seconds for consumers to seamlessly perform specific tasks and can be accessed by scanning QR codes, kiosks, and other URL-powered touchpoints – eliminating the need to explicitly download the app itself and increasing the opportunities a brand has to communicate with and best serve its customers.

4. Why do retailers need them?

App Clips are set to supercharge the trend towards mobile commerce and transform retailers and the way they engage with their customers forever. App Clips are more than just a convenient shortcut, they hold the potential to turn every user into a customer and offer a new avenue of support for them right when it’s needed most.

For example, while grocery shopping you could scan a code at the checkout line to automatically be added to the loyalty program AND get points from your current purchase. One simple scan and now your brand is in their pocket. Or as you enter a mall you can scan a code to get a mall directory for wayfinding and later opt-in to promotions from stores you visit.

5. How can App Clips help retailers acquire more customers and improve sales?

With many users not wanting to commit to a full app download, App Clips are making it easier to check out seamlessly via Apple Pay. If a customer is in a rush and doesn’t wish to stand in a long line at a store, they can simply launch the App Clip and pay, eliminating the chance that they would otherwise leave a store. App Clips also facilitate additional access to deals and coupons at specific locations, as well as signup experiences for loyalty programs. Customers will in turn be grateful for relevant information when they need it and be more likely to stick with a brand and download the entire app at their convenience.

6. How will the overall customer experience be impacted by App Clips?

App Clips are streamlining the entire customer experience, and are designed to be contextual, specific, timely, and very low friction. For example, by scanning touchpoints around physical product environments, customers can invoke Augmented Reality (AR) visualization experiences – particularly useful when browsing furniture or other sizeable purchases. Consumers can also receive notifications about certain products, effectively answering questions before customers even think of them. Then once a certain task is complete, the App Clip disappears, adding no unnecessary demands onto the end-to-end journey.

Essentially App Clips break down the barrier to engaging with a brand at the moment. Those brands that support App Clips properly will see increased conversion, loyalty signup, and repeat visits.

7. How will App Clips impact businesses in the run-up, and during, major shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Accessibility to App Clips via map location cards will prove extremely valuable to locking in customers this Black Friday. Map cards leverage location-specific data, so savvy shoppers can get ahead before even arriving at a particular store. Prior to arrival, App Clips allow users to search items to check if they’re in stock and pre-order and even make reservations while on the way to that location.

Brands can also appear more responsive and helpful during busy shopping periods by offering automated chat services. Any company with overwhelming customer service demands can offload some of their customers onto intelligent assistants and address their needs faster and better.

App Clips can even stop Black Friday fights at major retailers by allowing the customer to simply scan an item, pay for it on your phone and head to the pick-up area.

8. What future trends do you see taking shape in the post-pandemic retail space?

The COVID-19 crisis has changed the retail landscape for good, and we should expect to see the trends towards mobile channels and digital experience adoption stick, and even intensify. As more and more brands enable this solution, App Clips will become table stakes very quickly. Consumers will come to expect the utmost convenience wherever and whenever they shop, and retailers must change the way they connect with them to remain relevant in the post-pandemic retail space. Future brands will meet their customer where they are, and right now that’s on mobile.

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