ViSenze Blog

Future-proofing e-commerce apps

Posted by ViSenze 09-November-2015

Following our previous blog post on the ongoing debate between the mobile web and mobile app - and how this battle is going obsolete in 2016, Will Lindemann, Director of Growth at Branch Metrics has contributed this guest post on how to utilize innovative mobile technologies to reap massive rewards for your organization.


For shopping companies and lifestyle brands, the days of “betting on mobile” are gone. Data shows that customers are spending their time and dollars on mobile devices. In 2014, customers spent around $200 billion on mobile devices.¹ Even when online commerce as a whole is slowing, mobile is thriving: online sales for August 2015 grew 5%, their lowest rate in 15 years, while mobile commerce grew a robust 33% year over year.²

The race is now on to claim the $600 billion that Goldman Sachs projects will be spent on mobile commerce in 2018. Branch has partnered with the leading e-commerce platform PredictSpring to identify three key technologies any e-commerce company should be acting on today.

“Buy Now” buttons

The next generation of “buy now” based ads go beyond a call-to-action in traditional text or display ads and transfer the act of purchasing to the ad platform itself.

For example, if users see something they like on Twitter, they can place an order for that item without leaving the Twitter app (sort of). “Buy now” buttons require a direct backend connection between the platform and the merchant, so that Twitter can place the order with (RED) on behalf of the user. Pretty nifty in theory, and definitely a promising source of purchases due to the number of users on the major social networks.

but now buttons on mobile apps
"Buy now" button on Twitter

However, this ad format is still in its infancy.

From a user’s perspective, the friction of switching context and downloading a new app is reduced, but entering order and shipping information remains cumbersome.

From a seller’s perspective, there are multiple issues with being tied to a single platform. The backend infrastructure will need to be wired up separately for every platform (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc.) which is a large technical investment to make for an unproven format. It also negatively impact brand engagement. If a customer downloads an app, the seller has a permanent piece of real estate on that customer’s device and can message them with relevant branded content. With “buy now” on a social network, the purchase is isolated and the brand relationship is fleeting.

For retailers, a sensible bet is engaging with a company like PredictSpring who will do a single integration with the commerce backend. From there, PredictSpring handles the integrations with third-party apps, reducing the time, effort and cost associated with posting inventory on social platforms.

Contextual deep links - linking through app install

A deep link is simply a link that brings a user to content within an app. If a user shares a link to a pair of shoes from the Cole Haan app, the person receiving and clicking that link is taken to the specific pair of shoes in the app.

Deep linking has traditionally worked only if the app in question was already installed, creating a serious barrier to mobile user acquisition. With Branch Metrics’ new “contextual” deep linking, the deep link works even through install, so users can be taken directly to the content they’re seeking when they open the app for the very first time, removing friction for their first purchase.

contextual deep links - linking through app install
Deep links in the Cole Haan app

With Branch deep links, a new user who installs from a link can also receive a personalized experience when they open the app. This could be a picture of the friend who sent them the link, an automatic credit applied toward their first purchase, or even pre-loading the shopping cart with the item they are trying to buy.

Unlike “buy now” buttons, deep linking creates a great experience for the user in a brand’s app, which means not only increased purchases, but also increased loyalty and retention. In the battle for eyeballs on mobile, a robust deep linking flow is a crucial way to acquire and retain loyal users.

Apple Pay and Android Pay

If real estate is about “location, location, location” then mobile commerce is about “friction, friction, friction.”

Native checkout technologies, such as Apple Pay and Android Pay, greatly reduce friction in the purchase flow. At the moment, the payments technology is limited to Apple Pay in iOS apps. Android Pay for in-app purchases is rolling out “later this year”, but neither has announced plans for mobile web yet.

Apple Pay is an amazing experience in iOS apps, allowing one-click purchasing almost immediately. Like deep linking, the native checkout has been available in rudimentary form for a while but has recently improved in quality and adoption, making them essential technologies for any commerce app.

A new commerce ecosystem

As the mobile market opportunity has matured, so have the supporting technologies. Already newer, mobile-only brands have taken chunks of market share out of brick and mortar businesses by executing a robust product plan. Over the next two years mobile sales are hitting the hockey stick growth curve and brand loyalties will shift. There’s never been a more critical time to double down on mobile, and the reward is massive.




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