Mobile commerce is red hot and growing in importance by the day. If you are an online retailer and don’t already have a mobile strategy then you’d best get to planning!

While a well designed mobile or responsive website is an important component of a mobile strategy, native apps also play an important role and excel at driving user engagement, increasing repeat visits from loyal customers and maximizing cart conversion. For this reason leading online retailers already have or are busy developing native mobile apps (i.e. – iPhone, iPad and Android apps).

Following are 6 keys to success that I have accumulated here at Apptive while helping hundreds of online merchants create, deploy and manage mobile commerce apps for their stores.

I hope you can draw on these lessons to manage a successful project should you decided to make a native app part of your online store’s mobile strategy.

Key #1: Work with a company or app developer that specializes in eCommerce.

eCommerce has unique requirements, particularly when it comes to apps and mobile. You want to find a developer with mobile commerce UI/UX experience, mobile performance expertise, and most importantly eCommerce backend integration capabilities.

 Key #2: Think about life after your app is live.

Getting your app developed is just half the battle. Who will update and maintain your app moving forward? When a new version of iOS is released, when you need to make a content update, when you think up a snazzy new feature? If your developer disappears after your initial engagement, you’re stuck. Also, you don’t want to be entirely dependent on your developer – having some degree of self-management capability is ideal.

Key #3: Look for a solution that provides portability between eCommerce platforms.

You may decide to switch platforms at some point down the road. Make sure your app solution is portable between platforms or else you could be faced with a roadblock in making a switch or at the very least face an unexpected development bill to make your app function with a new platform.

Key #4: Analytics.

You need a way to track engagement and usage built into your app from the start to know how many customers are downloading your app, how customers are using this new channel and what adjustments need to made, etc. Just like your website, without analytics, you are flying blind.

Key #5: Include native specific features.

Just having an app for app’s sake will only lead to short-term gains, if any. Including native specific features like push notifications and a native user interface will help drive user engagement and ultimately improve conversion within your app.

Key #6: Give customers an incentive to download your app.

The value of your app increases proportionately with the number of people you get to download it. You will promote your awesome new app to your existing site visitors, customers and social media followers – folks that already are loyal or have familiarity with your brand. But giving them a little extra incentive to download your app such as app-only coupons will get you more downloads and will pay dividends far into the future.

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