Apps vs Mobile sites, which is better for your Retail Business?

| March 5, 2013

Apps vs Mobile sites, which is better for your Retail Business?

A recent report from Compuware seems to have turned previous data from Nielsen that smartphone users prefer mobile sites to apps on it’s head.

As mobile site design has improved and with responsive design becoming the standard rebuild for websites it seems strange that apps are now so well accepted. These reports don’t tell the whole story as there is clearly a place for apps in order to facilitate certain tasks however mobile sites can complete the majority of tasks. The question we want to know is do consumers prefer mobile sites for shopping or apps?

Another survey run by Siteworx in the US indicates that 65.7% of users prefer the mobile site to an app. The stated reasons for using any mobile related to retail is for more information and price comparison. This is why mobile sites are winning as there are more platforms providing price comparisons and product information within any app is driven by it’s connection to the web so doesn’t provide and advantage.

Where apps are winning is perceived load time with on average smartphone owners expecting apps to load in two seconds, while 28% said that apps should load in one second or less. In comparison smartphone owners expect mobile sites to load in four seconds.  A lot of mobile sites aren’t meeting the 4 sec target where as a native app can always load the splash screen within a second so the experience is better. Apps are also better in general at delivering another consumers favourite, coupons (have you ever tried using Pizza Expresses email coupons via their website, or even their app for that matter!) and holding information like store locations, tel no etc.

For the retail owner a key benefit to an app is push notifications. Without taking any details such as an email address you can directly market to a consumer who has shown a keen interest in your brand by downloading the app to their device.

In conclusion as a retailer it is worth having an app for loyal customers, providing them a quick and convenient place to find information and potentially shop. The mobile site will be seen by many more consumers and they will rely on it in order to compare your offering and prices and if developed well, purchase with you before another site or high street shop gets there first.


Nick Charles is Business Development Manager at Gibe Digital and Owner of Avon ForthAvon Forth Media. Nick specialises in the development of digital strategies across the marketing spectrum from Ecommerce, search, content, apps and social media. His work with clients across a variety of industries allows Nick to keep up to date with all the essential developments in the digital world applying learning to each of them. He also runs Gogo mobile. Find Nick through Google+.