Appbrew Promises Retailers A Shortcut To Sales Via Mobile Apps

For any retailer focused on e-commerce, giving customers the ability to shop through a mobile app offers a quick route to increased sales. M-commerce sales in the US alone exceeded $360 billion last year according to Statista, and are expected to reach $710 billion by 2025. By some estimates, consumers browsing a retailer’s products via a mobile app are three times’ more likely to make a sale than consumers checking it out online.

However, there’s a problem. Designing, launching and maintaining a mobile app can be time-consuming and expensive, particularly in a market where there is a severe shortage of skilled software engineers. Enter Appbrew, a Californian start-up that is today announcing a $2 million seed funding round – it says it can help retailers get mobile apps up and running more quickly and easily.

“Retailers lack access to high-quality engineering talent and the cost of maintaining a mobile app can be very high,” says Abhijeet Singh, CEO and co-founder of Appbrew. “They need a better way to create native mobile apps.”

Appbrew’s low-code solution is that better way, Singh insists. The company’s platform features a drag-and-drop interface that enables marketing teams to set up and run mobile apps for themselves. They can design the app in line with their brands and also ensure it interfaces with systems such as inventory management and analytics to deliver good levels of customer service.

In practice, Appbrew works in two ways, Singh explains. Often, it will do the legwork of getting the app up and running on behalf of the retailer, which then takes control of the app and maintains it using Appbrew’s platform. Alternatively, retailers can do all the setting up for themselves.

The aim is to get mobile apps up and running far more quickly. A process that might take several months if a retailer engages a third-party app designer can be completed within a few weeks via Appbrew, Singh explains.

Appbrew is certainly not the only low-code provider operating in this market – platforms such as Back4app, Zoho Creator and Backendless have already signed up significant numbers of customers in what is a competitive landscape. However, Singh believes Appbrew’s ease of use and unrestricted set-up are important differentiators – the platform supports an unlimited number of custom pages and complete layout customisation, for example.

“Retailers need their apps to replicate the look and feel of their web stores,” Singh explains. “The app also has to be able to interface with all of the third parties integrated into the existing e-commerce set up, so our job is to make that easy.”

Appbrew’s research certainly makes the case for moving forward with a mobile app. In a survey of 150 consumer-facing businesses, it found mobile apps were delivering, on average, conversion rates three times’ higher than online stores, and average order values that are 50% higher.

That makes sense. Consumers engaging with brands through an app can be offered an improved customer experience, plus advantages such as faster purchases and stronger connections. Retailers can offer benefits such as loyalty programmes and personalised services. They can also use push notifications to reinforce messaging and nudge shoppers towards a purchase or a return to the store.

Singh warns that retailers lacking a mobile app will find themselves eclipsed by their rivals. “With the rise of mobile commerce and the shift to digital shopping, shopping apps have become a part of consumers’ daily lives,” he argues.

Launched last autumn, Appbrew has already signed up around 15 medium- and enterprise-sized retailers, and the company’s investors believe it is well-placed to capture a share of a growing market. Today’s $2 million round is led by Accel, with participation from Riverside Ventures and a number of business angels. The cash is earmarked for team-strengthening, product development and investment in go-to-market activity.

“Appbrew helps brands in building stronger connections with their valued customers,” says Pratik Agarwal, Principal at Accel. “In the current environment of expensive performance marketing, Appbrew increases brand profitability by improving conversion rates and retaining loyal customers.”

Alex Pattis, General Partner at Riverside Ventures adds: “With so much commerce done on mobile, it’s imperative to allow brands to deliver an optimal shopping experience.”

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