They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. Well, despite our best efforts, neither is mobile app adoption. Today every retailer seems to be exploring the possibility of developing a mobile app, with many already in deployment.

While creating the app is one thing, generating adoption is an entirely separate challenge. Mobile use today is an integral part of the shopping experience, with customers searching price comparisons, reading reviews and scanning for coupons all while in-aisle. However, they are utilizing their mobile browsers to do this pre-purchase research, as opposed to an app. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Forrester Consulting, 60% of U.S. consumers only have two or fewer retailer apps on their smartphones, and 21% don’t have any at all. Additionally, half of the respondents said they use the retailer apps only once a month or less.

Reading statistics like this can be a deterrent from implementing a mobile app, as the challenge seems daunting, if not impossible. However, it is achievable as there are several retailers that have found major success engaging customers via their mobile branded apps. In order to achieve adoption and create a loyal customer base for your app, consider implementing these three long-term strategies.

  1. Marketing Efforts

Retailers must remember to market their app, just like any other in-store promotion or special sale. Awareness of the app’s existence must first be established before adoption and engagement. While this process can take time, it pays off in the long run through downloads and customer engagement. Strategize on how to best educate consumers about the mobile app and its offerings, whether through special point-of-purchase displays or an online microsite. Then, ensure every piece of in-store collateral and digital content, including social media sites, has a call to action to remind visitors about the app and direct them to download it. Consider offering an incentive, such as a coupon or discount on their next purchase, which will yield more consumer participation.

  1. Value Proposition

In order for customers to utilize an app regularly, there must be a value proposition that simply cannot be ignored. A great example is Walmart’s Savings Catcher app that scans a customer’s receipt and compares the retail giant’s prices to its competitors. Guaranteeing low prices is something Walmart has said for years, but now it is proved with this price comparison tool. If it does find a lower price, the retailer will pay consumers the difference. In only a couple of seconds required to scan the receipt, customers can have extra cash in their pocket. Talk about minimal effort and potentially big rewards! To excel in this same way, research customer behavior and shopping habits to understand how they would prefer to use technology when engaging with the brand, and develop the app accordingly.

  1. Exclusive Offers

Building app loyalty is the second greatest challenge behind adoption. To encourage regular use of the app, retailers must consistently offer exclusive deals and promotions that can only be redeemed via the app. This will prevent the drop-off that happens when shoppers download an app to get the initial deal, discount or other promotion but then fail to use it again. Utilize in-aisle beacons to send alerts to their smartphones on in-app offers. The key is for customers to use the app on every shopping journey, not just every now and then. The more often they use it, the more it will become habitual.

Mobile app adoption can be difficult for retailers, especially when the app is brand new. If you are not ready to develop an individual branded app, consider using a universal app. This solution acts similar to an individual app but allows consumers to find additional information from other participating retailers as well. Some universal apps even mold to the retailer’s signature look and feel when opened in-store and can provide the same effect as a branded app, without the resources required to develop one from scratch. Regardless of which app option utilized, take time to understand specific customer preferences and what motivates them first in order to have a greater success. With a little patience and perseverance retailers can capitalize on consumers’ dependency on their mobile phones and provide a resource that will become a routine part of their shopping journey.

Previously published on Chief Marketer.