Statistics show that more than half, of the web traffic, comes from mobile devices. Hence, it only makes sense to dig deeper roots and establish yourself as a portable device-friendly e-store. To this end, you have two ways at your disposal namely, a mobile responsive website or a mobile app.
Essentially, for an e-merchant, both a website and an app for an e-commerce business are essential to cast a wider net of your presence. This helps meet the needs of different customers and plant seeds of brand loyalty too.
However, it is entirely possible that you are stripped of cash or have the budget for investing in only one of these options.
In such a case, you need to compare and contrast a mobile-friendly website and a mobile app. Only after such a comparative picture can you point your finger to the option that will sync with your interests the best.
Briefly, an e-commerce website meets the needs of a wider audience, offers easy accessibility, and doesn’t cost a fortune in setting up. It does not offer any offline presence though. On the flip side, an app affords personalization, streamlines customer experience, and builds brand loyalty. However, its development lies on the expensive end of the cost spectrum.
Let’s dive deeper to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of both a mobile app and website for an e-store to make an informed decision.
Mobile Responsive Website vs. Mobile App: A Look Into the User Base
Before digging further, let’s first clear the difference between an app and a website. A mobile-friendly website is one that fits squarely to the size of the handheld device. Moreover, the interface is responsive to the demands of the user.
On the other hand, users need to download the mobile app in their portable device, be it a smartphone or a tablet, to access your e-store. Unlike a website, these aren’t powered by a browser. Instead, your app stays in the app store until a user downloads and gives it a residential slot in his device.
Prevailing research suggests that folks have warmed up to the idea of online shopping. 62% of the smartphone users have used their handheld device to shop in the last six months. Interestingly, 80% of the shoppers use a phone even when inside a physical store to read product reviews or more.
Also, the Forrester’s 2018 Retail Best Practices: Mobile Web study reveals that over one-third, or $1 trillion, of the retail sales in the US will come from smartphones in 2018. While there is a rise in mobile commerce, are customers using apps or websites to make purchases remains a hot question.
In more studies by Heart+Mind Strategies and Google, however, 68% of the respondents said that they did not need an app to uncover product details or place an order. Moreover, 87% reported that they could be loyal to a store even if it did not have an app. The best takeaway is that 63% of the individuals said they typically delete a store’s app if it forces them to download it.
Strengths Afforded by a Mobile Website
Now that the data-backed contrast is out of the way, let’s unravel the benefits that a mobile website has to offer your e-commerce venture. Typically, a responsive website is a must. After all, it makes no sense to have an app without a site in the first place.
A responsive website is the cornerstone of a brand’s identity. What’s more, it can mostly make up for what an app offers. Here are the major characteristics offered by mobile-friendly websites:
#1 – Accessibility
Upon closer attention, you will notice that all and sundry can access and explore your e-store’s website. However, only those people who download your app can access it. This gives a clear idea that a responsive website will attract a large audience.
Plus, who doesn’t search the web for any products that they’re looking for, looking up reviews, and placing an order?
The accessibility of a mobile website offers immediacy too. It takes seconds to browse a website. Besides, if a potential customer learns about your store, he would make a beeline to his search engine to learn about it. He wouldn’t go about searching the app store first.
#3 – Compatibility
Another smart feature afforded by a website is that responsive design is available for all handheld devices. These include mobile phones of varying sizes, tablets, and so on.
#4 – Upgradability
An interesting feature of mobile websites is that it takes no more than two ticks to make an upgrade. If you aim to change the content or design, you only have to edit the published versions. The change will be instantly available.
#5 – Time and cost
Lastly, the development and expenses involved in a mobile-compatible website are considerably less than apps. If you want to have an app store across all platforms, the cost and time will only go up by several notches.
Weaknesses of a Mobile Website
There isn’t a litany of cons when it comes to a mobile website. However, they have an impression of being good but not the best. These are scaled desktop websites, which is why they aren’t great in every aspect. Therefore, you’ve got the following demerits:
#1 –Offline inaccessibility
Websites are run on the wheels of an internet connection. Once it’s down, there is no access to the site.
#2 –Affects conversions
A slow load speed or poor user experience can severely effect conversions. Any interruptions can also lead to the same loss. Google Research shows that more than 72% of the consumers are likely to switch from a poorly designed mobile site to a better mobile site. Additionally, the slower your website is, the poorer your sales.
#3 –High cart abandonment rate
Owing to the responsiveness and other similar factors discussed above, mobile websites show the highest shopping cart abandonment rate. It stands at approximately 98%. In contrast, apps have an abandonment rate of roughly 20%, which is markedly less.
Pros of a Mobile App
In general, an app provides streamlined and personalized experiences to the customers. Many people prefer to use e-store apps over websites. Mentioned below are the main features that apps offer:
#1 – Personalized and secure payment
Apps offer secure payment options. What’s more, if you program your app to remember the payment methods that a shopper opted for, you can enhance their shopping experience. This streamlines the customer’s experience and simplifies payments too.
#2 – Allow push notifications
You can develop push notifications to attract your customers further. For instance, you can send out a notification when you run a special sale or have stocked new products. This alerts interested customers, thus, ramping up sales.
#3 – Enhanced user experience
Apps provide greater flexibility when it comes to improving the user experience. You can tailor the experience to the preference of a specific customer too. This goes beyond what a responsive web design can offer.
#4 – Offline access
Customers can browse product catalogs from your e-store using your app when offline. This isn’t something that a website can offer. Moreover, an app provides an incredible way to get to the front of the user as the icon stays on the customers’ home screen.
All these factors encourage customers to return two times faster and spend 34% more with apps instead of websites.
Cons of a Mobile App
Apps offer two main drawbacks. These include the cost and the time taken in their development and updates. Here is more on these factors:
#1 – Costly set-up
Mobile app development sips in a lot of money. If your brand has an established e-store, you can shoulder the investment. However, the cost can be heavy for a new venture.
#2 – Time-consuming development
A lot of things go into the making of an app including the app platforms to target. While launching an app, keep in mind that several markers should be carefully monitored such as the app’s speed, bugs, and how crash-proof your app is.
The best choice between a website or an app for your e-commerce business depends on several pointers. These entail your budget, the audience that you want to target, and how much time you have. There’s no denying that 85% of the folks are spending their time on phones using native apps. However, a major chunk, 84%, of this time goes to five apps mainly. These vary for each individual with the focus on gaming or social media apps.
Conclusively, a website earns a few more points than an app as a cost-effective and budget-friendly option that attracts a broader pool of audience.