How to Retain Customers Using E-Commerce Store Apps

By Vlad Korobov / 09 August 2019

Businesses should invest in mobile apps to create better experiences for their customers when they are using their e-commerce platform. Mobile apps can be a relevant, accessible, and easy-to-use tool for people looking to streamline their shopping journey. 

Using mobile apps to create a more streamlined experience for customers is essential to building a loyal customer base. 

Criteo’s analytics demonstrate the value of investing in an app as mobile apps provide a larger win rate for sellers:

  • About 70% of all purchases made from vendors who have a mobile app are made via app. This originally North American trend is now observed all around the globe. 
  • From the second quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, the number of transactions made via apps and mobile websites increased by 78% while the number of purchases made using tablets and PCs dropped by 31% and 11%, respectively. 
  • Mobile apps, as an instrument for online purchases, are favored by almost half of all customers in North America.

People are more easily drawn into the purchasing process and are more willing to spend money using an app. The customer’s desire to buy is promoted by means of timely and relevant (and, ideally, personalized) push notifications. 

As well, Google Pay and Apple Pay systems reduce the online payment stage to a single click. 

In this article, we will discuss how to retain customers using e-commerce store apps. 

User Retention Methods for E-Commerce Mobile Apps

We have tried various methods to best relate to our e-commerce customers and studied how big online retailers appeal to people

Below are the most effective methods we have found: 

1. Brand Advocates

While people are legitimately wary of advertising, they are much more trusting of their friends and family members, as well as other consumers. 

As a result, Yelp reviews are capable of giving accurate personal testimonials that give feedback about the product or service.

Of course, consumers should always be wary of discerning between fake and honest reviews

2. Daily Offers

By giving customers a daily deal or offering exclusive information, businesses can demontrate how much they value people who are loyal to their brand. 

For example, every day, the Hollar store offers its users the opportunity to buy something unique or discounted. 

Hollar store offers unique discounts

This retention method goes well with the general philosophy of Hollar, which seeks to retain its users by intriguing them with what might be updated or released tomorrow. 

Make sure you are keeping your customers motivated to return to your store. 

3. Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are simple — to provide the customer with a benefit from regularly using a service

Still, there are various forms of implementation, and nowadays the most effective approach is not to bluntly appeal to consumer greed. 

A loyalty program should always stay optimized for the customer. 

Here are some of the most prevalent loyalty programs in e-commerce: 

4. Gifts, bonuses, and discounts

Making a nice impression, no matter how fleeting, will certainly not hurt your business. 

You might choose to give your customer a gift for spending more than a certain sum or to perform some other gesture of generosity.

A good example of such a gesture could be a discount card. 

A flashier alternative would be to motivate the user by allowing them to score points for various actions, including but not limited to purchases. 

The 7-Eleven app gives 800 points to the user immediately upon the registration. These points can then be exchanged for coffee, a “Big Gulp,” chips, donuts, and other food. 

Each dollar spent is also converted into points, and every seventh cup of coffee is free.

These types of bonus and discount programs incentivize people to return to your business and buy more items. 

5. Gamification

Games not only increase loyalty and sales, but entertain customers as well, which is especially effective when targeting millennial consumers.

There are two types of gamification: developing fully-fledged games as part of a product and implementing game mechanics into the app. 

In 2017, MasterCard treated its Danish customers to a fun game. Each time a card payment was made, the Tap, Spin, & Win app would let the user spin a virtual wheel and win prizes like movie tickets or gift certificates.

Quizzes are the most popular content on BuzzFeed, leading a significant portion of traffic to the website. 

In BuzzFeed`s top content in March 2017, on the list of the most viewed materials, the first four places were taken by quizzes. 

The success of the BuzzFeed quizzes is impressive: engagements, views, and likes are all counted in millions, and the quizzes contribute greatly to user retention.

6. Premium Status

Premium status holders are given privileges that, according to some research, lead them to spend much more using a service as common users.

According to Forbes, 51% of U.S. households will be Amazon Prime subscribers in 2018, up from 45% in 2017 with Prime subscribers spending up to 4.6X more than non-prime customers.

Amazon Prime Subscription

Thrive Market is an American discounter that has based their entire business model on premium accounts. 

Privileged users get access to discounts on products that are already cheap. Further, the fact that premium users have already paid for these cheap products through their premium account, motivates people to spend more time checking your app. 

Premium status makes certain customers feel special, which can help boost sales. 

7. Personal Purchasing Experience

McKinsey research reveals that personalization can deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend and lift sales 10% or more

This means that an enormous amount of data collection is required to learn your customers’ habits — the product pages they visit, the types of content that makes them excited and what devices they use to access your website or app.

Forbes: “The opportunity in the retail industry is huge. According to eMarketer, total retail sales will hit $5.68 trillion by 2021. And, Accenture predicts that there is a $2.95 trillion prize for companies that integrate a smart digital strategy to personalize customers’ experiences."

Personalization enhances the user experience and make purchasing items a more relevant process to people. 

8. Push Notifications

App push notifications can help remind users to check your app and make them aware of potential discounts or deals. 

Here are some of the perks that push notifications introduce into app usage, according to Localytics

  • They increase app engagement by 88%.
  • They ensure the return of 65% of users provided they have enabled push notifications.
  • They are considered to be useful by about half of all users. 

While certainly useful for most businesses, push notifications can become irritating for users. 

Here is some advice to avoid user irritation:

  • Push notifications are especially effective from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. when people are not fully engaged in their work, and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., when they have more free time
  • The worst times to send push notifications are early in the morning, when people are preparing for the workday, and late at night
  • The push UX on iOS and Android is different. On iOS, push notifications are opened by swiping and must not exceed 60–90 characters, while on Android they are opened by tapping and can have up to 120 characters
  • Don’t send push notifications too often. The appropriate number of notifications will vary depending on the app, so the most important thing is to get a feel for it. 

Integrate push notifications in a smart and helpful way for your users. 

9. Reactivation

Customers who have not been around for a while, who have left you, or who are likely to leave in the future should be reminded of your app’s existence by a call, an e-mail, a push notification, or a text message. 

Whatever communication approach you choose; it should obviously be done in a proper manner. 

However, the first thing you need to do is ascertain why the customer left. Before requesting a customer to return and use your services, you want to make sure that you aren’t pitching them the same service they rejected.

Be smart with how you approach unengaged customers and make sure you give them a reason to come back. 

10. Recommendation System

Within the last decade, the sheer amount of available information has grown so much that most people have trouble choosing video games, music, movies and shows on their own. 

This problem can be solved by recommendation systems — algorithms that take into account actions and preferences of each user as a basis for predicting what they might like. 

For instance, Apple Music suggests artists and albums; Amazon offers tips about products; YouTube recommends music videos and vloggers. 

Various models are used to create recommender systems, including collaborative filtering, user collaborative filtering, knowledge-based and hybrid models. 

11. Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual and augmented reality create more dynamic and interactive experiences for your customers. People can accurately visualize your product in their lives with an immersive app. 

For example, IKEA launched the IKEA Place app, which can be used to arrange furniture from the shop’s catalogue to aid in purchase decisions. 

The app is available on both mobile platforms, although the number of supported devices is limited.

It is not uncommon for augmented reality in e-commerce to function like teleshopping: the user may be offered the opportunity to try out clothes, glasses or accessories right at home by using a phone or a tablet. 

In 2013,, a retailer that sells frames, rims, and lenses for glasses, used AR to help customers choose glasses that would match their looks. 

With the help of the app, the customer was able to pick the type of glasses they want (for men or for women, with regular or tinted lenses). The app creates a 3D model of the customer’s head by rotating the head left and right in front of the camera. 

The app puts the glasses over the user’s face and the user can evaluate the result from different angles. 

The model is then saved in the user’s account so that later recommendations from the website can be based on it.

These types of experiences offer a better demonstration of why a customer should buy the product and allows them to actually visualize themselves using or wearing it. 

Make Sure You Keep Your Customers

Investing in customer retention can open up new sales channels and increase the average purchase size. 

Businesses should recognize the value of customer retention, which is more cost-effective than pursuing new leads anyway.

Keeping customers is the ideal way to improve your sales and generate brand loyalty. By creating a mobile app, you will offer a new way to have your current customers engage with you on a regular basis. 

Lead capture icon


Based on your budget, timeline, and specifications we can help you build a shortlist of companies that perfectly matches your project needs. Get a free shortlist of best-fit companies from a Manifest Analyst.