Mobile Web vs. Mobile app

With mobile accounting for 60% of global e-commerce today, no business can afford to ignore mobile as a sales and marketing channel. But do retailers need an app for mobile sales, or is a mobile website good enough?

Americans are spending 2x as much time on their phones as their desktops and 87% of that time is spent on apps, yet we regularly run into retailers who think a mobile web presence will suffice.

The truth is that mobile web and mobile apps are equally important and there are pros and cons to both — apps are significantly better for scaled e-commerce, while mobile web attracts more organic traffic and is used primarily for product price and availability research.

51% of web traffic is now on mobile, but consumers are spending significantly more time and more money on mobile apps. In Q4 2017, for the first time ever mobile app sales surpassed e-commerce on both desktop and mobile web with $52B in mobile app commerce the U.S., according to Business Insider and the U.S. Census Bureau.

For consumers, convenience is king. Native mobile apps make purchasing seamless and simple, reducing transactions to a few clicks, and this is driving consumers to buy using mobile apps over everything else for e-commerce.

According to Forbes, the three main drivers are convenience, speed and stored settings. Apps accomplish this in a way mobile web cannot with a slew of features, such as:

  • Auto login (incl. TouchID, FaceID etc.) — typing this in is a pain on mobile web
  • Responsiveness — apps are faster to load and respond
  • User Interface — The bar is *very* high these days and most mobile optimized sites fall short
  • Payments — Stored payment allows for one-click purchases and Apple Pay accounts for 34% of sales on apps we create today

Latency is critical for e-commerce shoppers — According to Kissmetrics, “a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.”

With faster phones and wireless speeds, the mobile web experience has improved greatly, but for commerce applications especially, mobile apps are significantly better across many metrics. Apps offer better sales conversion and a faster, more convenient user experience, while giving retailers the tools for effective, data-driven marketing.

Maybe in some far away future apps will “go away,” but for a decade the nay-sayers have been predicting the downfall of apps, and in fact mobile apps are only getting more popular. The bottom line is that mobile web sites are by definition constrained by web browsers, and those constraints limit functionality and cause latency. And as we know, consumers these days are extremely fickle and unforgiving, and will bail out if inconvenienced even slightly.

To attract customers AND capture the sale on mobile you need highly functional web and app solutions. Anything less does your business and your customers a disservice.


Business Insider “Mobile Apps Were the Most Popular eCommerce Channel in Q4 2017,” Feb 2018

Comscore 2017 Mobile App Report

Criteo Digital Marketing Trends 2017

Forbes “Why Many Online Shopping Sites Are Becoming Mobile Shopping Apps” Dec 2017

U.S. Census Quarterly eCommerce Sales Q4 2017


Ordering for your customers. Tailored to your business. Your liquor store, now on mobile.

Ordering for your customers. Tailored to your business. Your liquor store, now on mobile.