The question of how an e-commerce store can improve your business is best answered by recent developments according to which Amazon’s valuation could skyrocket to a colossal $1.3 Trillion in 2020.

Tracking down the U.S. Department of Commerce figures, e-commerce sales alone in 2018 accounted for about 15% of the entire retail sales in the United States, totaling to over $515 billion that U.S. customers spent just to shop online.

With this information, multiple sources estimate that about 75% of all online purchases are being made on mobile devices and most people prefer to use smartphone applications over mobile websites.

We would elaborate on how a mobile app can have an edge over a responsive or adaptive website for the best online shopping experience. But first, let’s briefly learn about Responsive & Adaptive Web Designs to run an e-commerce store.

Shopping on Mobile Websites using any browser like Chrome, Edge or Safari.

A website built with a Responsive Web Design resizes the same web page to look good (respond) on all sizes of screens, i.e., desktops, tablets, and smartphones. An Adaptive Web Design involves creating multiple versions of a website and display only that version (size) to a user that would fit best on his or her screen.

Present day GPU technology has made ultra-fast responsiveness possible for e-commerce storefronts to run effortlessly on a smartphone browser. Notice the identical outlook of the following screenshots comparing Airbnb’s mobile website with the app:

E-commerce mobile websites are not inferior to native apps when it comes to shopping. With analogous designs, they can both offer corresponding features like product search, shop by category, wishlist, orders, payment options, customer services, etc.

Hence, The Big Question.

Does your e-commerce store really need a mobile app, if a high-tech responsive or adaptive mobile website can take care of every feature required to comfortably buy a product online?

Whether there is a need for investing in a large-scale mobile app development project, and even go through detailed mobile market analysis to compare the prerequisites of iOS vs Android app development for an e-commerce business?

A lot of retailers question the indispensability of having a mobile app on top of an operational website which is already optimized to run on multiple devices.

And, why not! A website has several advantages of its own, such as worldwide login capability across all devices and no need to download and keep the software on the phone. For startups, no need to hire a team of developers because plenty of affordable & ready-made solutions are available in the market to quickly build a feature-rich website for all devices.

However, mobile apps have several technical benefits over websites, and they are also constructive in augmenting the customer base for an e-commerce business. Let’s understand these two aspects one by one.

A) Mobile App Features

There are functionalities that are considered exclusive to installing a mobile application because these tasks are still regarded as difficult or unfeasible to integrate into a mobile website:

1. Better UI/UX, Personalization And Faster Performance

Websites are made to work within browser limitations. A mobile application can be designed with the freedom to exactly meet your specifications. The design possibilities are extensive for a rich experience, given the advantage of tailor-made buttons & app-only gestures (tap, hold, drag, swipe, etc.).

App users can easily be served with personalized content and product recommendations based on their interests, leading to a higher conversion rate.

Most e-commerce mobile applications around the world are faster than their ‘responsive web’ counterparts. It is because apps can store data on the phone itself, whereas the websites have to retrieve most of the information from the servers every time. Technically speaking, frameworks used in mobile apps work faster than javascript codes used in websites.

With slower loading and interruptions during travel, shopping carts are often abandoned in mobile websites. However, an app keeps the users engaged with quicker loading time due to a minimal download of data in the background.

2. Push Notifications

Push Notifications is a very powerful tool for non-intrusive advertising through which e-commerce business owners are able to notify customers about opportunistic offers, rewards, product launch, recommendations, updates, and reminders at a suitable time.

With the ability to send individualized notifications, mobile applications have an unambiguous upper hand over websites, since it is a highly effective method to re-engage users. Some of the proven benefits of sending push notifications are:

  • Higher conversion rate: Sharing real-time information of special offers is just one way by which an e-commerce app can generate more revenue. Any promotional display like ‘offer ends tonight’ requires the quickest mode of customer engagement to gain sales, and push notifications are made for this very purpose.
  • Targeting the right audience: Through tailored notifications, e-commerce businesses have the flexibility to market a product in a specific location or to a particular group of people. Customer response data to such notifications provides the app owners with further analytical information to execute their next strategy after gaining valuable insights into user behavior.
  • Better customer care: Order updates, cart information, payment status, promos, etc. are some of the elements which can be automated and instantly shared through notifications.

3. Communication Within Apps And Accessing Device Features

To a certain extent, it is infeasible for a website to access device functionalities or interact with other installed applications for better customer experience. But, an app can be programmed to converse with sister apps as well as utilize smartphone’s native features for innovations.

For example, an e-commerce application can be configured to locate and integrate with your preferred payment option (PayPal, Apple Pay, checking account, etc.) already installed on your device. It is possible with a browser too, but the process is seamless and quicker on a mobile app.

Another popular example is the social integration and share button for a product. Pages on the websites are usually shared by copying web links, but the apps can have a built-in button to share a product on various social media platforms. An app can also be customized with many flexible options for users, for instance, finalizing a product and then sharing the payment link through messaging for someone else to pay.

     Image Credit: Zara Augmented Reality

Likewise, Augmented Reality with camera access (one of the most researched techs at present) to virtually try out products works faster and better on installed applications than mobile browsers.

4. Security

Transactions on apps can be secured by using the phone’s fingerprint authentication. Mobile applications are also scrutinized by app stores to filter out malicious apps before they are made available to the public.

5. Customizing User Experience And Recommendations

Customized suggestions and offers engage shoppers to your store by delivering relevant content and minimizing the need for searching products again and again.

An app can provide you with a better outlook of customer buying trends and interests. While a website handles a lot of guests as well, an ‘always logged-in application’ can have a distinct advantage of procuring customer data (based on age, gender, location, browsing trends, etc.) to create a personalized experience for every user.

Integrating a recommender system with your e-commerce app may propel your business to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with well-established players in the market.

6. Using The Mobile Application In Offline Mode And Data Storage

Without the internet, websites do not work at all. However, a mobile app can run several features in offline mode and synchronize when online to keep the users engaged.

Assume the scenario of intermittent internet connectivity while making payment for a purchase. A website should result in unsuccessful payment, but a mobile app can wait for the connection to come back online. Furthermore, if chatting with a customer service agent through an app and the connection is lost – a user can still send offline messages which are restored with connectivity. In a similar manner, you may identify those offline features which would be useful for an e-commerce store.

7. Data Analytics

After learning about product recommendations and push notifications above, the significance of analyzing the user data is quite evident in itself. While looking for a product, users spend more time on the installed apps than a mobile website – a trait which pulls more customers through the purchase funnel.

Potential opportunities created by customer trends must not be overlooked for app users. A professional analysis to pinpoint customer inclinations should be obtained while developing a mobile application for your business.

B) Prospects Of Business Expansion By Launching A Mobile Application

Although investing only in a high-tech e-commerce website can technically meet the objective and perform the job, a mobile app launch is considered essential to expand the customer base. Following are the benefits of a mobile app for an e-commerce store:

1. User Preferences

In continuation of the upsides described above, it is true that most people like to click on an icon on their smartphone instead of typing into a browser. However, there is a large browser-loving population out there which keeps their phones free of excess apps, including myself.

Nevertheless, apps are not only faster to run but are also very convenient to access with a single tap. For the same reasons, the majority of users usually start with a website and end up using an app if a certain level of brand engagement is created. To put in simple words, websites and domain names contribute to raising awareness and apps have a slight edge to make more sales.

2. Marketing Strategies

Consider that you and a competitor are the only two major players in a niche market, selling designer living room furniture on your websites. One day, your competitor successfully releases an extremely appealing app and you observe a small but consistent drop in sales afterward.

What would you do, if the contest were between your website only, and your competitor’s website augmented with recently launched iOS & Android apps? It is unequivocally safe to say that having both websites and mobile applications increases brand awareness and builds customer loyalty.

3. Downtime Backup

If an app is down due to maintenance, the sales won’t be impacted immensely when a working mobile website is online. Imagine running an e-commerce business with just one platform (either an app or a website) during a technical outage.

And Now, Here’s Our Verdict!

Which one should you choose – an app or a mobile-friendly website?

From a business perspective, you don’t get to choose!

If you have not figured it out by now, both of them are necessary to get ahold of a complete market share and not lose a large segment of customers. You want to reach more and more users, not leave half of them behind by missing out on one platform.

If you are on a budget, then any leading development agency would be happy to assist you with the process of iOS app development and compare it with Android app development cycle in order to understand their unique attributes (in addition to a mobile-friendly website) in the marketplace and broaden the scope of an e-commerce store that performs only with a website.

Share this: