As a Mobile Marketing Consultant I’m am often asked by business owners and marketing reps about whether or not a Mobile Application (App) would be right for their business. Although an App does ofter the cool, chic factor, more often than not it is not a correct fit for the consumer.
These days smartphone owners are relying on their mobile devices in more and more ways to accommodate for their daily tasks; and they are using their phones as a shopping tool now more than ever. From local searches (3 out of every 5 searches) to shopping, researching products, comparing prices and redeeming coupons, shoppers are increasingly becoming more and more tethered to their smartphones.
As a result of this new phenomenon, savvy retailers responding to the demand by developing mobile apps and mobile optimized websites designed to attract smartphone shoppers. But as I prefaced in this post, which is the better way to go, App or Mobile website?
Marketing researcher Nielsen asked that very question and released their finding in a detailed new report. According to the findings, retail mobile websites were more popular than retail mobile apps citing Amazon.com’s as the most popular retail mobile website of all.
John Burbank, President of Strategic Initiatives at Nielsen stated:
“The majority of smartphone owners used their devices for shopping this past holiday season. Mobile shopping has reached scale and is only going to grow as smartphone penetration continues to rise.”
Did you catch that part about “…is only going to grow?” Mr Burbank goes on to say,
“Retailers need to think of their business as a multi-channel environment that can potentially include mobile, online, and bricks and mortar stores. Winning with shoppers requires a consistent experience across channels that reinforces the values you represent as a retail brand, whether it be price, service, reviews, selection, style, or other key attributes.”
Nielsen gives us some other insights into US smartphone owners’ uses of retail apps and mobile websites:
• Smartphone owners of both genders prefer retailers’ mobile websites over mobile apps, with men slightly more likely to try retailers’ mobile apps than women. Consumers who use retailers’ mobile apps do tend to spend more time on them.
• Target and Walmart skew female when it comes to their mobile websites, while Best Buy
skews male. Amazon and eBay appeal to both genders.
So which is it, Mobile App or Mobile website?
Truth be told, every business, large or small, needs to have a mobile-optimized website. As I have said many times, in both print and lecture, it is no longer up to us to determine how our customers visit our site. It is, however, up to us to provide them with the smoothest experience possible.
As for applications, it really is dependent upon the business and the services they provide. For instance, a Catering Service would have very little use for an application. Why direct people to take the extra step of downloading an application when they can just easily visit their website via their mobile phones, automatically be redirected to the mobile version, where the customer can then view their services and place an order directly through the site? However, an Accountant might do well by creating an application that “pushes” notifications changes and updates to the tax codes to help business owners with their quarterly filings as well as provide insights and tutorial on the best way to save the most amount of money while rendering to Caesar.
Now is the time more than ever to ensure that your customers are provided with the smoothest experience possible. Since most are using their mobile phones to locate your business, compare prices, and do their shopping it is important to ensure that your website is mobile optimized and ready for visitors today. If you feel an App would be in the interest of your customers or clients, development of the application needs to strait immediately.