A recent survey points to that possibility, but now could be the best time to strengthen the customer retention factors.

Mobile and browser-based software applications—often just called ‘app’s—are now indispensable for users to shop, connect with their loved ones, and get entertained.

In the Asia-Pacific region (APAC), 55% of shoppers in downloaded at least one shopping app (retail, food, or grocery/alcohol) during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak. The region has also seen the highest increases in app usage for social networks (44%), food delivery and video conferencing (36%).

More than one in three app users in the region have downloaded a gaming, video streaming and/or social networking app from mid-May to mid-June this year. Also, surveys show that the younger generation trusts apps more than they do websites.

In particular, when compared to the older generation (34%), Gen Zs (52%) and Millennials (46%) believed their personal and financial details were more securely-stored in a retail or shopping app than purchasing via a mobile website.

Taranjeet Singh, Managing Director, SEA & India, Criteo

The survey findings from marketing technology company Criteo prompted DigiconAsia to interview the firm’s Managing Director, South East Asia & India, Taranjeet Singh

According to Singh, his firm had wanted to find out how COVID-19 has changed the relationship between mobile users and their applications. The company then surveyed over 18,113 anonymous respondents across 18 countries, including Singapore, Indonesia, India and South Korea, between April 3 and June 29, representative of the populations of their respective countries by age and gender.

DigiconAsia: If or when we have made some progress in the fight against the pandemic, do you foresee the current statistics on apps-commerce drastically changing?

Singh (TS): Among the younger generation of Gen Zs and Millennials, 34% said that they were either extremely or somewhat likely to delete apps downloaded once the pandemic is over. These are the same users that we know to be more inclined to making in-app purchases or paying for premium apps.

The key for brands will be ensuring that they keep the user at the forefront—considering what is in it for the user, and what the customer views as most appealing about the brand experience. For example, attractive prices, free delivery, a seamless overall experience, and new features, that keep customers coming back to the app.

DigiconAsia: What are some post-COVID-19 challenges or obstacles that APAC brands can face via apps?

TS: In a post-COVID reality, this means a redefinition of customer engagement for brands, and looking into ways to deepen loyalty with users, both new and old. Apps can be very useful in overcoming some of the following challenges:

  • Reinvigorating the customer experience

To enhance the customer experience, brands should build upon their existing app offerings and use app retargeting to ensure user retention. In doing so, brands will be able to tap into massive data sets to deliver truly personalized product recommendations for each user, boosting conversion rates in the process.

  • Growing brand loyalty and customer incentive to purchase

Brands and retailers should look to implement incentive programs, and apps can be useful as a platform to host such programs, to keep their customers continually engaged and rewarded across multiple platforms, both in-store and on mobile. Through apps, brands can grow their customer base as well. According to our findings, 46% of our survey respondents said they downloaded an app during COVID-19 because it was recommended to them by a co-worker, family members or a friend.  With that in mind, brands can consider launching an app referral program so that their most loyal customers can actively help grow their installed base.

  • Communicating with dormant customers

Brands can utilize push notifications, emails, and in-app advertisements via their app to take a more active approach to re-engage their customers. With more users on mobile and on apps today, this would be a good way to bring their promotions to customers where they are.

DigiconAsia: With customers having a choice between going out to make a personal transaction or just paying via app, what should businesses keep in mind?

TS: There are a few things that businesses need to consider.

Firstly, establishing a level of trust with their customer base, emphasizing the security and measures for data protection.

Secondly, how they can make the user experience as seamless as possible such that customers would choose to use apps for these transactions instead of going down to a physical location to make payments.

The most successful applications are able to fulfil these two priorities and, in that way, result in customers changing the way they engage with the brand– now online, in real-time, while receiving the same trusted service.

With what Taranjeet has shared, DigiconAsia readers can hopefully find the right priorities to angle their organization’s post-pandemic survival strategies, especially when it comes to app security. Thank you Taranjeet!