E-commerce Wars: Mobile Optimized Website vs. Apps

According to new statistics, 69% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 39 use their mobile devices to research products and services before actually purchasing. Worldwide. Google also drives 96% of mobile search traffic and 78% of mobile searches for information on local businesses to result in a purchase. Indeed, the mobile world is fresh, interesting, highly sought-after and, by the looks of it, rather profitable.

What does that mean for businesses though? Is it just another profit-driving channel that will die out fast? We think not. So make sure you include mobile devices in every strategy you’re pushing. Marketing, sales, project management, whatever it is, m-commerce needs to have a place of its own. The manner in which mobile traffic is to be collected, reviewed and ultimately used has been highly debatable amongst e-commerce specialists, marketing gurus and mobile developers alike. Could your business benefit more from a mobile-optimized website or an app?

 

The Goal

Both a responsive website design and a mobile app serve the same purpose: enabling users to browse and purchase products and services on their mobile devices. From a business perspective, they also share the same goal: profit.

How you most effectively reach that goal is debatable still. Reaching the highest percentage of your audience and making the sale is not always the quickest path to success. Sometimes retention pays off better than acquisition. No matter the case, smooth customer journeys will most certainly do the trick. So, when judging which option works for your business, you need to consider the aspects that influence the journey of your customers.

 

1. Convenience

Indeed, convenience is a key factor in delivering great experiences for your customers. Before thinking of ways to convince your clients to agree with a product or service, you need to make sure they are at a stage where they are ready to hear your sales pitch.

According to research, the most convenient option is the application, as it scores high in terms of usability on both mobile devices and tablets. Additionally, apps make it much simpler and faster for people to share features or updates than they would be able to do on an optimized website.

 

2. Compatibility

Your audience can be very different both in terms of demographics and psychographics, as well as in terms of device usage. This means you need to make sure you reach them all, no matter what operating systems they use. In this section, mobile-optimized websites score pretty high, as they can be accessed on all operating systems, unlike the application.

If customers have different devices, operating on different systems, then their customer journey will be interrupted if they switch devices. It may even require the extra step of downloading and installing the app if they are first-time users.

 

3. Support & Maintenance

Customers are not patient by definition. We live in a world where products, services, markets, everything moves fast and if what you’re offering doesn’t, chances are they will not wait around. Mobile optimized websites are so much easier to handle in terms of both updates and support or maintenance.

With apps, however, things are pretty different. Not only do apps require constant updates, which could result in multiple system bugs, but at times, these have to be completely redone, which of course means freezing resources, which is bad business and bad customer experience.

 

4. Cost

Cost is always at the top of every initiative, especially for small businesses and startups, which may not have a big starting capital. Numbers show that it costs less to optimize your website and make it responsive to mobile traffic. It also costs less to maintain it, and even to completely re-design and re-optimize your entire website than it costs to create and develop an application. Apps cost a small fortune, and there are a lot of other resources that go into developing them as well, so unless you are only targeting mobile users or your product only has a mobile functionality, the app may not necessarily be your answer.

 

5. Knowledge

Whether you go for a mobile-optimized website or an app, you still need a specialized team of developers. For websites, you’ll also need design. Apps are a bit more difficult to handle. You need one or possibly more app developers who not only have the knowledge but also the experience to successfully build an application.

 

The Winner

There’s no definite winner and no clear loser in this field. Each option has its strength and weaknesses and it all boils down to what’s best for your business taking into account your audience and channels of communications.

Take into account factors like your industry and niche, your product or service, your expectations in terms of profit. Analyze your resources and determine whether further investment is possible or profitable. In the meantime, starting off with a mobile-optimized website is a solid plan. It’s cheaper, simpler to maintain and still very much used.

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