Mobile Retail Websites Driven By Content; Apps By Convenience

According to recently released data by Astound Commerce,in the 2017 holiday season mobile commerce revenue totaled $35.9 billion, a 28% growth from last year’s mobile commerce total. This year-over-year growth illustrates the importance of mobile’s contribution to retail sales performance.

Astound Commerce Insights analyzed 25 mobile retail websites and 23 retailer apps in its 2018 Mobile Shopping Report to better understand the mobile commerce landscape and identify top performers. The report found that retailer mobile sites tend to be more robust, mirroring their desktop counterparts, while the role of apps centers around connecting customers across all channels and, most importantly says the report, serving as the ultimate in shopping convenience, particularly for frequent buyers. 

Lauren Freedman, SVP of Digital Strategy and Chief Merchant of Astound Commerce, explains that “Companies that ranked high in the report use a mix of strategies including powerful visuals, inspiring and rich content, and efficiency to optimize the shopping experience. The study found that while both solid mobile sites and apps are part of a strong shopping experience, it’s clear that each channel has a different purpose in the buyer journey, whether it’s browsing, research, or making purchases.” 

Five calculators, each built on a 5-point scale, were used as a framework to understand how each mobile application or website performed across these retailers. Average overall results are as follows:

Average Performance of Mobile Websites and Mobile Apps (Out of 5)


Mobile Websites

Mobile Apps

Shopping efficiency



Omnichannel capabilities



Shopping inspiration



Content depth



Customer service




The report found that the top five mobile web performers are (in order of experience quality): 

  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Ulta Beauty
  • Macy’s
  • Nordstrom
  • Urban Outfitters

The report also ranked the top five mobile app performers (in order of experience quality): 

  • Macy’s 
  • Sephora
  • The Home Depot
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • American Eagle

Retailers have less space to inspire shoppers to purchase on mobile devices, making strong visuals and quality content critical to driving customers to purchase, says the report. Across the board, mobile sites incorporated more robust merchandising and compelling content. Key findings that illustrate the depth of experiences include:

Mobile sites showcase products better:

  • 96% of mobile sites had a “What’s New” section, compared to 78% of mobile apps. 52% of mobile sites had a “Trending Now” section, compared to only 30% of mobile apps. 

Video’s value seen across mobile:

  • 84% of mobile web sites feature video and a strong 61% appreciate their role on apps. Only 30% of mobile apps offer a retailer’s blog (56% on sites) and guide adoption is favored 2 to 1 for web (64% vs. 30% on apps). This penetration suggests that apps are better used as purchase tools instead of curation or discovery.

Efficiency rules on apps:

  • Swift checkout is top-of-mind on apps as the average number of clicks is 2.74 versus 3.60 seen on the mobile web.

Customer service lags on apps:

  • 92% of mobile sites had a dedicated customer service section, compared to 74% of apps. Easily accessible contact information is scarce on both mobile sites and apps, with phone numbers available on the home page or via navigation on just 33% and 14% respectively. 

Freedman concludes by saying that “The differences between mobile apps and sites center on the idea that mobile apps are meant to simplify and accelerate the path to purchase, while mobile sites should offer a more robust shopping experience akin to a desktop site.

Retailers must ensure they understand the benefits and shortcomings of each mobile channel and can accommodate the needs and goals of their customers on both, as mobile adoption’s pace is almost a guarantee of increased sales in the coming years.”

For additional information from Astound Commerce, please visit here.



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