Banner showing all 4 speakers seated, plus James the CEO of Redbox, who is seen introducing the panel.

On Thursday 26th April, brands from the world of eCommerce app marketing pushed through the rain to join AppsFlyer, Batch and Redbox for an in-the-room panel event at the Hoxton.

Chaired by Sue Azari (eCom Industry Lead at AppsFlyer), our panel featured three big-hitters from the world of app management: Stuart Jones (Domino’s), Jessica Llarena (Decathlon) and Justin Reid (Tripadvisor), who came together to discuss how they grow user conversion and loyalty via their apps. The session was marketing gold – here are the highlights:

Sue: What have the big learning been over last next 12 months and how will they affect the next 12?

SJ: One post Covid highlight for us was the FIFA World Cup – it was a great period but created a unique challenge on how we project 2023 without a winter world cup. Right now, the cost of living is a challenge for everyone, so we’re looking at how Domino’s can help with that – we’re looking at how customers can still have their pizza and really feel that value for money. Price Slice was a great message that resonated with customers – it delivered great value at a really important time and if people want great value, we’ll help them get it.

JL: Coming out of the pandemic, there is a greater focus on sustainability and the planet – it’s certainly something that our customers are focused on and so are we; so we found ways to be both competitive and environmentally friendly. Now, people are financially stretched so we need to help make sport accessible and affordable to everyone; as such we’ve introduced the sale of second had good and the ability for people to rent big ticket items, such as paddleboards.

JS: Tripadvisor is a much-loved brand, but the pandemic hit travel hard and we saw half a billion users go quiet; this, on top of Brexit, then airport strikes, war and the cost of living has made it feel like we’ve taken two steps forward and one back. However, it’s interesting that people don’t seem to be prepared to cut a holiday three years in a row, so resilience is unexpectedly good. People need to get away – their mental health needs it!

Sue: How have recent changes in consumer behaviour influenced your app strategies?

JL: App usage was huge during the pandemic, so Decathlon launched one in 2021 to support retention and grow loyalty, and importantly, to bridge the gap between our retail stores and the customer – every item in-store is also available in-app. We have seen short-form video take off, so we embraced TikTok and created unique content to engage customers in-app.

JS: The Tripadvisor app is powered by user content – across Covid we saw people looking at what was happening locally to them, so we switched our strategy to support local and produced more interesting, engaging local content. What do we offer? It’s a unique value exchange – your feedback for a better time at home, or away.

Sue: What value does the app add in terms of retention and loyalty?

JS: Generally, people love Tripadvisor; it provides value and that creates loyalty. We’d like to make it easy for loyal, logged-in users to use it as their travel companion: for decision-making research, for booking travel and activities, and for exploring when there. Currently there is no pressure for users to spend any money via the app or website, and we have been careful not to push the ‘buy’ opportunity because we want to protect the brand and customer loyalty, and monetisation strategies like paywalls could be damaging.

SJ: The app is huge for Domino’s, but we’ve really seen major growth via the app in the last 12 months, as users migrated from the website. The app has enabled us to experience much stronger customer retention and app orders deliver a higher purchase value too. So, we’re looking at how we can continue to drive that loyalty via the app by adding more value to users and encouraging more to switch away from the website. We’ll never not ensure the Website is still as strong as it possibly can be, we’ll always have customer preference for some with that channel and so will always remain important to us. Plus, it’s a great platform to experiment on.

JL: The app has allowed us to totally optimise the user experience – via the app we have moved away from being product-centric to focus on the entire customer experience. In-app notifications have helped us to reactivate and re-engage customers and in-app features have also helped to revolutionise the in-store experience; customers can use the app to scan products in-store for enhanced information and reviews. All of this has helped to create retention and loyalty across the entire customer journey.

Sue: Are you focused on loyalty progs?

JL: Yes, we want to reward loyalty customers. They buy from us, they recommend Decathlon, they take the time to leave reviews - they belong to the Decathlon community. This enhanced relationship allows us to nurture a strong loyalty programme, which allows us to ask our customers questions about their Decathlon experience in-store, in-app and on the website.

JS: Our user base is incredibly loyal already, but when it comes booking, we’re not in the position to able to offer incentives; there is a lot of competition in that space, and most booking sites have the power to offer discounts. There is kudos in leaving reviews, so we can incentivise that, but we want to avoid scam reviews. Value exchange is key.

SJ: We are constantly trying to discover what builds loyalty both locally and nationally - there’s always a great deal / voucher available with our products. We constantly make sure we keep our lines relevant and fresh through impactful products and deals. Through listening to our customers, we believe we provide them with what they need and in doing so we’ll continue to build a loyal base.

JS: Totally agree - offer value exchange, not the lowest price wins.

Sue: How useful are reviews?

JS: Tripadvisor is a leader in this space. Tripadvisor scores are the gold standard; nobody buys without reviews.

JL: The products that really sell are the ones with the reviews – so reviews have a material impact on sales. The customer who leaves the review is engaged with the Decathlon brand – regardless of whether they leave a good or a bad review, so we make sure to answer all the reviews – offer solutions if the review is poor, so that the customer is supported beyond the purchase. Also look at the reviews on the App Store, not just your own app or website; often people will leave a great review about Decathlon on the App Store page.

JS: The average Tripadvisor review is 3.9, so people do really want to talk about the positive, but as Jessica said – replying to all reviews is vital; you can really turn a bad review around by responding to it and that builds loyalty too.

SJ: Individual item reviews don't really work for our industry – you either love pineapple on a pizza or you don’t! However, in the review space, the ‘recommended for you’ model can be more powerful than a 5-star review. Recommending something to a customer based on data insight and ordering habits, can really drive purchasing in a way that’s meaningful to a customer.

Sue: How will the role of the app change in the next 2 years?

JS: For Tripadvisor there is a lot we can do with in-journey app notifications. Using the known location of a customer to make relevant, recommendations that can make a trip immediately better.

JL: Personalisation will be a focus and how to treat customers uniquely, like the Netflix model – to gather data that help you to know what they like before they know it. Also, for us, content and community – how can we use the app to help people find their sport community.

SJ: We have a vision to be the Netflix of food and use data insight to provide a highly relevant customer journey. We want to make it simpler for our customers to love us and shop with us. Leading to them coming back time and time again based on the experience they had.

Summary: The over-riding theme here is that the principals of creating loyalty via the app are very much the same as those we employ when dealing with people face to face. If brands provide a relevant and good quality service, and if they listen and respond to their customers’ needs, that customer will be predisposed to continuing the brand relationship and may even further invest in it, by providing reviews, customer feedback and spending more. As was said more than once during the session, offer value exchange, not the lowest price.

Redbox and partners plan to follow-up this event with another session, so contact us to be included or watch our social spaces.

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