The Fit of Apps & Websites in Mobile Shopping

by Net Future Institute on July 8, 2014

By Chuck Martin

The split between commerce through apps vs. reaching websites from mobile devices is likely to be around for some time.

While app usage generally dominates smartphone activity across the board in most studies, for a number of obvious reasons, a lot of commerce from traditional retailers is coming from their websites accessed by a mobile phone.

For overall retail, research often shows apps lead the way, though the stats may be somewhat misleading since much of the volume of retail sales come from online-only sellers.

For example, the majority (52%) of mobile shoppers on eBay accessed the site via the app.

However, mobile websites seem to be leading the rest of the mobile commerce activity, according to a recent study.

In a sample of 1,300 people shopping at 13 U.K. retailers, mobile website visits far overshadowed those who use the retailers’ app, according to the study by ICM Research.

For example, 22% of mobile visitors to Tesco came via the app compared to 56% from the mobile website and for John Lewis it was 11% via the app compared to 59% form the mobile website.

The twist is that actual sales are more likely to take place via the app than by a mobile website, according to the study.

This matters to companies like eBay, since 40% of new customers come via mobile and mobile-enabled sales hit $22 billion last year, according to ICM.

Though this is only one study in one market, retailers everywhere are facing the same kind of dynamics.

Though their apps may be the intended and desired way for retailers to interact with mobile shoppers, the merchants can’t force their customers to go that route.

Despite promotions and incentives to download their apps, retailers face consumers who decide on how, when and where they want to use their smartphones to shop.

The consumer is in the mobile commerce driver’s seat.


Chuck Martin is Editor of the mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk column. He is the author of “Mobile Influence,” “The Third Screen,” and “The Smartphone Handbook.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute. Chuck Martin is a frequent Mobile Keynote Speaker and Mobile Marketing Speaker internationally. He also addresses Social Media in Mobile.


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