It often seems that the prophesied death of the high street and rise of mobile commerce go hand in hand – but can one complement the other?

According to Business Insider UK, in 2016 the number of online retail sales in the UK rapidly increased (+16% over last year), exceeding the forecasters’ expectations made by the forecasters by 5%.

IMRG Capgemini declared that this growth was driven mainly by smartphones: in December 2016, smartphone sales reached 47% year-on-year.

The stress experienced by consumers while physically shopping could be behind this trend.

A report published by Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute explains many shoppers are frustrated by physical retail experiences, often because they can’t find what they need.

Nevertheless, consumers spend more and convert at higher rates in bricks-and-mortar stores than they do via ecommerce. The trick, then, is to find ways to increase footfall in your store and buck the trend.

Tools of the trade

Push notifications and location sharing are valuable tools for retailers to get more customers into stores.

Beacon technology is a good example of this strategy.

Waitrose was one of the first UK retailers that adopted it to improve shoppers’ in-store experience, alerting them to promotions when they are near the relevant aisle.

“To increase footfall to stores, your mobile app should provide enticing added value to the retail experience”

Regent Street App, a recent example, sends personalised alerts to people who walk in the vicinity of shops, inviting them to discover in-store exclusive offers and promotions.

To increase footfall to stores, your mobile app should provide enticing added value to the retail experience.

Attract customers with great offers, promotions and incentives via your mobile app.

A successful example is American retailer Target’s Cartwheel app, which alerts shoppers about deals at their local Target and allows them to combine Cartwheel deals with other coupons, incentivising them to check in the store.

The results of this winning strategy arrived soon – in 2016, Cartwheel generated $3bn (£2.4bn) in promotional sales for the retailer.

Retail brands benefit from well-designed apps that echo exclusive in-store experiences or even give well-branded clues to what customers can do or find in the store.

Try before you buy

A good retail app can remind customers how much fun it can be to visit the store, where they can try items on and be inspired.

An example is the Ray-Ban virtual try-on app, which offers a virtual mirror so customers can try on sunglasses like they would in the store; “playing” in the app encourages customers to go to the store, where they will more likely convert.

Even if m-commerce is growing at a pace and the challenge of bringing customers into bricks-and-mortar shops is increasingly frustrating, in-store shoppers still matter.

Your app is a valuable tool that can maintain personal contact that builds loyalty while satisfying the need for 24/7 service.

Think of the app as an ally that can drive in-store traffic and help your customers experience the exclusivity of a personalised in-store visit.