The game has changed for e-commerce marketers.
Privacy-first iOS updates disrupted their two most reliable channels — paid social and email — in 2021.
In the wake of iOS 14.5, companies are reducing spend on Facebook Ads, Konstant Kreative founder Nick Shackelford observed.
Now iOS 15 is shaking email up, too. What’s an e-comm brand to do?
One option: launch a mobile app.
Shackelford works with e-commerce brands like Posh Peanut and Pete & Pedro, and several of his clients are looking into this option.
What are the pros and cons? Shackelford talked us through it.
PRO: Push notifications are better than texts.
Sure, there are parallels. Like SMS, push notifications...
- Pop up on a phone’s lock screen
- Load quickly, even with weak wi-fi
But push notifications have an edge on text messages, because they drive to frictionless checkout.
Most users have already loaded payment info into their apps, Shackelford noted.
PRO: Apps are getting easier to build.
Who will become the Shopify of e-comm apps?
Shackelford has his eye on two emerging no-code platforms:
- Tapcart — Currently the backend of Fashion Nova and Pier One Imports’ mobile apps, this builder integrates directly with Shopify stores.
- Via Mobile — This newer app builder for e-commerce brands comes from m-commerce platform Via Customers.
Both make building mobile apps easier, just as other e-comm channels get harder to use.
PRO: Apps capture reliable behavioral data.
E-commerce brands can collect first-party data on when and how users browse mobile apps, Shackelford noted — and even personalize the app experience in real time.
Meanwhile, web storefronts are having a tougher time collecting tracking data as the privacy-first web unfolds.
CON: Apps need marketing.
Getting people to download an e-comm app might require...
- Email and SMS marketing
- App store ads
- Ads within other apps (more on this below!)
Post-download, keeping users engaged often takes a steady stream of app-exclusive offers, Shackelford said — like discounts and early bird product launches.
That’s a lot of work!
CON: The market for your e-comm apps could be small.
Hair and skincare brand Wow Skin Science has a great app, Shackelford reports.
But “you don't really download that unless you're a pretty diehard customer,” he said.
It might make more sense for vertical-specific apps to join forces and launch what TechCrunch calls “superapps.”
Owned mobile apps look more and more relevant to e-commerce brands.
They’re a way to “own an audience and be on-device,” Shackelford said — even build a mobile-first community.
“I think people should revisit it for sure.”