The mobile wave that has swept the online world over the past decade not only continues to grow, but is fast becoming the norm for the majority of users worldwide. Mobile phones now dominate Internet usage, generating 54.3% of online traffic, ahead of desktops at 43.9% and tablets at 1.8% according to data compiled in 2021.
Mobile App vs. Mobile Website
In the mobile world, there are two ways to access information:
- Mobile Website. This is a website that has been modified and optimized for access by mobile devices with various screen sizes and operating systems. Sometimes referred to as ‘responsive’ sites, these sites automatically adjust to present information in a format that is more mobile friendly and interactive. No special software is required — the site can be accessed by any mobile device, or desktop for that matter.
- Mobile App. This is a software application that has been developed specifically for a particular site or brand. Apps are loaded onto the mobile device from a service like the Apple App Store or Google Play, and run a specialized, more personalized version of website functionality that is tuned specifically to that brand and user.
While both methods provide useful access to online information, for the reasons outlined below, mobile apps are overwhelmingly preferred by users because of the personalized, customized experience and the expanded features and convenience they provide. This is especially true when it comes to online shopping.
Bottom Line Business Impact
So, who cares which method people use to access your store’s information? While it may seem like a subtle, technical difference, the impact on your bottom line can be monumental.
As you will see below, mobile users — now the largest and fastest growing segment of the online market — overwhelmingly prefer mobile apps over mobile websites, and spend the vast majority of their shopping dollars through mobile apps.
Mobile users overwhelmingly choose mobile apps over mobile websites, and spend the vast majority of their shopping dollars — 90%+ — through mobile apps.
For a business, this translates to the opportunity of capturing 90%+ of potential online shopping transactions vs. scrapping for the remaining 10% because your business lacks a mobile app — or your shoppers are unaware of it/don’t use it. It honestly is that dramatic a difference.
7 Bottom Line Business Reasons
These seven reasons outline why mobile users strongly prefer a mobile app, and the bottom line negative business impacts you risk by ignoring them.
Apps Are Where the Mobile Shoppers Shop Online — By a W-i-d-e Margin
Recent research shows that 90% of mobile users’ time is spent in apps, and only 10% browsing the rest of the internet. That’s an astonishingly lopsided margin. It essentially means that without a mobile app, you barely exist in the mobile online world.
The contrast is even more dramatic in the eCommerce space. Mobile app users spend an average 201.8 minutes per month shopping, compared to 10.9 minutes/month for website users.That’s 20 times more shopping time in apps than on mobile websites.
So it’s not just a matter of getting views and visits on your site. Mobile apps are where the shopping is happening online. In the brick and mortar world it's the equivalent of having a fully functional, easily accessible store where people can come and easily buy your products, vs. a tiny store where shoppers mostly come to browse, but not buy.
3X Higher Conversion
Getting people to your site is one thing. But getting them to purchase is the ultimate goal. Here again, mobile apps beat mobile websites by a substantial margin.
Recent research shows people view 4.2x more products per session within apps, compared to mobile sites. That’s the essential starting point for online engagement and purchase. However, it doesn’t stop there.
Apps also push more people down the purchase funnel, with 3x higher conversion rates compared to mobile sites and even 1.5 times more conversions per session than via desktop.
So, if your ultimate goal with an online shopping strategy is to get shoppers to actually buy something rather than just browse, comparison shop or have a positive brand experience, mobile is by far the best investment of your scarce resource dollars.
Lower Cart Abandonment
Cart abandonment is the biggest reason online shoppers don’t become purchasers when they are in online shopping mode. Abandonment means a shopper puts items in their online cart, but never completes checkout and payment.
Of the three main access modes for online shopping, mobile apps have the lowest abandonment rates by a substantial margin — 3-5X lower — as compared to mobile websites and even desktops.
Cart abandonment rates for mobile apps are just 20%, vs. desktops at 68% and mobile websites at 97%.
A big reason for high abandonment rates is that customers are annoyed when they have to fill out their credentials (name, address, credit card number, expiration date…) during checkout, and they simply move on to something else. Mobile apps solve this problem by saving user profile data that can be quickly accessed for simple, hassle-free checkout.
When you can lower the abandonment rate of your online shoppers by a factor of 3-5X, it pays to move as many as possible to that channel. For this reason alone, a concerted campaign to transfer shoppers to a mobile app will pay big dividends in bottom line benefits over the long term.
If you’re noticing a 3-5X pattern here for how much better mobile apps perform on measures that contribute most to the bottom line, you’re beginning to understand why successful online retail grocery programs must revolve around a robust mobile app technology.
Best of Both: Higher Online Purchases, Higher In-store Traffic
It’s not often that a single solution gives you the best of both worlds, particularly when those worlds would appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. But here again, mobile apps break new ground in delivering the unexpected.
Recent data reveals that 40.4% of all users buy more of a brand’s goods after downloading its e-commerce app, which is a pretty substantial increase in and of itself. But rather than cannibalizing in-store visits as you might expect, this same data shows that 45.9% of users also end up visiting the physical store more often.
Higher mobile app shopping rates are confirmed by other research that shows customers spend twice as much money on mobile apps than on desktops or mobile sites. Additionally, the average order value on mobile apps is 140% higher than on mobile sites and 130% higher than on desktops.
That all adds up to a dream contribution to your bottom line: More shoppers are buying more from your mobile site, and at the same time are visiting your brick-and-mortar store more often. You can’t ask for a more compelling business proposition.
This seeming anomaly points to the power mobile apps have to reinforce the brand and strengthen the overall brand experience.
Constant Brand Reminder
Your customers and potential customers spend a substantial amount of their time on mobile devices these days. Worldwide, the 5 billion people who own a mobile phone spend an average of 3.25 hours per day on the device. In the U.S. that number is 5.4 hours per day.
With all that screen time, users will encounter the apps they’ve installed on their devices multiple times almost every day as they browse back and forth through their most-used apps. This exposure acts as a constant branding opportunity for your app and company, almost like a mini electronic billboard on the shopper’s daily mobile highway.
Even if shoppers aren’t actively using your mobile app at the time, they are reminded of the brand associated with the app each time they swipe through. Subconsciously, their perception of your brand is being reinforced without you spending an additional dime on advertising.
Here again, mobile apps prove their superior ability to impact shopper behavior. Customers who have downloaded an eCommerce app are twice as likely to return to that app within thirty days than to a desktop eCommerce access.
Personalized, Better Experience
Although harder to quantify, this characteristic of mobile apps drives much of what makes them so popular with shoppers. These days, customers expect a personalized, full-featured, simple and intuitive shopping experience from their mobile device. That type of experience is only possible at the highest levels through a dedicated mobile app.
Here are a few of the personalized, time-saving features that set mobile apps apart, and which mobile websites struggle to deliver:
- Saving favorites. Quickly gets shoppers to products and information they frequently check and act on.
- Faster cart creation options. Apps can save and display previous purchases, previous orders and frequently purchased items that can be quickly added to the cart for repeat purchasing.
- Simple checkout. Apps can securely save credit card and personal information required for speedy checkout, whereas many mobile sites require users to input this information for each purchase — a tedious process most shoppers will avoid for routine, repeat purchases.
- Use phone features like GPS, camera, maps, etc. These functions are not available to mobile site users. For example, using the phone’s camera, a shopper at home can scan items from their pantry they’d like to repeat purchase, and the app will find the item in the online store and add it to the shopping cart.
Direct, Higher-Engagement Messaging
Getting shoppers’ attention to communicate your store’s specials, offers and personalized messages is a challenge in today’s information overloaded environment. Good mobile apps can become a reliable mainline to shoppers' attention.
Rather than getting lost in a shopper’s email box or social media feed, your messages, notifications, special offers and events can be pushed directly to their mobile device in the app. And because shoppers are already engaged with your brand in the app, response rates are typically much higher than other forms of electronic communication.
Stay Ahead of the Mobile Curve
eCommerce is a must for independent retailers to stay competitive in today’s fast-moving grocery environment. In that online world, the mobile app is emerging as the key to highest profitability, highest adoption, and greatest satisfaction for your online customers. Getting onboard now with a mobile app will help ensure your long-term eCommerce success.