Mobile Shoppers Prefer Retailer Web Sites To Apps

Smartphone-Shopping-A2Despite retailers’ desire to move people to their native apps, most mobile shoppers prefer going to their mobile Web sites. A new study from Siteworx shows that 65.7% of people surveyed prefer using the Web site to downloading an app specifically for the retailer. The survey also found that product reviews were the key driver behind people making purchases after using their mobile device for shopping. Price comparisons were the next most popular driver of purchase activity.

Nevertheless, according to the survey, very few people actually used their smartphone to make a purchase gift this holiday season. In fact, only 3.4% said they used their smartphone, and only 4% said they used their tablet to make a holiday purchase. Nearly a majority of people -- 48.1% -- said they were making their holiday purchases at brick-and-mortar stores. But another 44.4% said they were using their desktop or laptop computers.

Supporting other recent findings, this survey also found that the tablet has become a place where people are more eager to buy than on their smartphone. During the holiday season, 18.6% of tablet owners said they made a purchase using their device, in contrast to 12.8% of smartphone owners.

The survey found that apps still serve a function, but people need a specific reason to download them for a retailer. The survey found that special offers were among the most important things that lead people to download an app, followed by browsing faster than the Web site or gaining specific loyalty benefits.

It's all about the product when it comes to mobile applications and Web sites for retailers. Among mobile users, 39.9% said they were checking out product reviews on mobile devices and 39.1% said they were browsing related products.

While some aspects of the survey seem to discourage the view of smartphones of purchasing devices, in fact, more than half the people surveyed said that during the month of December they had made at least one purchase on their cell phone and 30.7% said they made 2 to 3 purchases on their cell phone.

Overall, ease of use and ease of finding and comparing products seem to be the leading factor in people’s satisfaction with their mobile apps and mobile Web sites. It almost goes without saying that any retailer needs a native mobile Web site or responsive design for mobile access. But Siteworx also recommends that designers focus on specific mobile features that highlight products and product images and streamline the process of purchase and finding products. The Siteworx survey is based on over 5000 responses across the various questions asked of users about their mobile shopping habits during the month of December 2012. The full report is available at the site.

The tension between mobile Web sites and apps continues. This survey reinforces the idea that most people are bringing their Web habits onto their devices and often are using search as the means to get to a particular Web site or simply typing in a Web address. They need a good reason to download an app.

Siteworx suggests that features like large product images and product reviews are essential to the mobile shopping experience. But we only have to look at some of the more successful mobile shopping apps from retailers like Walgreens, for instance. As their head of digital platforms, Rich Lesperance explained at our OMMA Mobile at SXSW, the app pulls customers in with a core killer feature -- the prescription refill function that lets you snap a picture of your prescription bottle and get a refill automatically from the drugstore.

Convenience matters. And retailers that find that central convenience touchpoint in their consumers gives users a reason to download an app as well as a reason for the user to remember that the app is there.


1 comment about "Mobile Shoppers Prefer Retailer Web Sites To Apps".
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  1. Carissa Ganelli from LightningBuy, March 19, 2013 at 3:41 p.m.

    Does anyone wonder why conversion from mobile is so low? It's because the purchase process from mobile is painful. Here's a great start to improving the sales from mobile centered on the design of your shopping cart:

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