Mobile Web vs. Mobile Apps. How Do They Stack Up?

Jul 25, 2016 6:42:00 AM

Mobile Vs Mobile APp.jpg

In 2015 Google announced that the number of searches conducted on mobile worldwide exceeded those on desktop for the first time in history. It comes as no surprise that mobile is quickly become the dominant platform for shoppers. The device you carry with you everywhere is poised to become the one that you shop on the most. It’s estimated that by 2020 over $284 billion in sales (45% of total e-commerce sales) will be completed on mobile devices according to Business Insider.

For retailers it is no longer a matter of if, but when and how they embrace mobile technologies. As the world transforms to a mobile first society, retailers are rolling out mobile optimized websites and mobile apps. Right now, App vs Mobile Web is a hotly debate topic as each deployment has its pros and cons. The truth is that retailers will need to leverage both to stay relevant to shoppers in the future. We compared these two mobile shopping options in terms of 3 criteria: Ease of Use, Overall Experience and Actual Use. Read below to see which option came out on top in each category.

1. Ease of Use

Advantage: Mobile Web

Stat: 7 in 10 consumers prefer mobile web to mobile applications (LSA Insider/Burke)

There is much debate as to the merits of mobile apps vs mobile web. While apps often provide a better user experience, there is no denying the friction associated with getting them onto consumer’s devices. Consumers want quick and frictionless methods to interface with retailers digitally, and the data shows they are willing to sacrifice some functionality to achieve this goal.

2. Overall Experience

Advantage: Mobile App

Stat: 60% of US smartphone user have abandoned a retail or apparel mobile website transaction due to poor usability, long loading times and/or navigation challenges. This is costing US retailers as much as $24 billion in lost revenue. (Jumio via Internet Retailing)

Mobile web might appear to have less friction in getting shoppers to start shopping. However, once they’re using the platform, mobile websites are often plagued with usage issues that cause shoppers to abandon mobile transactions and become unengaged from the shopping experience. Mobile apps on the other hand, provide a rich user experience offering features that aren’t offered anywhere else such as facilitating payment and rewards programs on a single channel or the ability to hyper-personalize content. Mobile apps are the ultimate way to enhance a consumer’s shopping experience if consumers are willing to download the app.

3. Actual Use

Advantage: Mobile Web

Stat: 60% of consumers who regularly shop on their phone have less than 2 retailer apps installed.(RetailMeNot/Forester)


Stat: 92% of iPhone surveyed reported to have deleted retailer’s application due to problems with its function. (Survata via eMarketer)

While smartphones continue to grow as a major shopping platform, customers are not downloading retailer apps in droves. The fact that the majority of mobile shoppers have very few apps on their phones and their willingness to dump apps, tips the advantage to mobile web.


Based on the above criteria we believe that if executed correctly mobile web experiences have a slight advantage over mobile apps. However, in this ever growing mobile first world, retailers need to provide high quality experiences via both apps AND mobile web.

On one hand, it will always take some time and energy for users to download retailer applications. They’ve shown that they are willing to do so if retailers make that time worthwhile, by providing coupons and app exclusive promotions.

On the other hand, Mobile web has the clear advantage in terms of the minimizing friction when customers engage with brands and inherently has greater reach vs. mobile app. The problem is that mobile web retail experiences are notoriously poor. To change the experience, retailers need to go beyond just optimizing the look, feel, and functionality of mobile websites. They need to re-think the whole shopping experience to suit the fast-paced, low-patience nature of mobile.

Retailers must provide a shopping experience that pushes what customers want to the forefront, because they’re only going to give a few seconds of their time while standing in line for a latte or in between snaps on Snapchat. In that brief moment, retailers need to better present their customers with something that hooks them in — or they’ll be gone.



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Written by Radius8

Radius8 empowers retailers to dynamically merchandise online using the context of their physical stores and local market intelligence to drive online conversion

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