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Mobile Commerce Starts with the Mobile Web

December 2, 2010

One of the questions every retailer faces in defining their mobile commerce strategy is what approach they should take: the mobile web or a native app.  While native apps are appropriate for some brands, the mobile web or in other words, optimizing your existing website for a mobile experience is the place to start.  It makes sense to start here for a whole number of reasons, but let’s describe the most important reasons why:

  • Your brand depends upon it. Consumers access your website with their mobile devices all the time.  If they come to it and see that it’s not optimized for the mobile web, they’ll not only abandon your site and not shop with you, but also form a bad image in their mind of your brand.
  • Consumers prefer the mobile web for shopping. According to a recent study by Adobe, 66% of consumers prefer to review content via the mobile web, while only 34% prefer to download an app.  eMarketer also found that consumers prefer the mobile web over apps for shopping– 78% to 22%.  The bottom line is that consumers prefer the mobile web over native apps, so start with the mobile web.
  • Maximize your reach. With the sheer number of mobile devices and mobile operating systems on those devices, the only way to maximize your reach to the widest audience possible is through the mobile web.
  • You’ll be easier to find. One overlooked aspect of ‘going mobile’ is that you need to promote the fact that consumers can now shop your brand on a mobile device. What easier way to promote it than tapping into how the vast majority of people find things online today– search (or more specifically, Google)?  Consumers will do a search on their mobile device, find your brand in the search results, then click on the link that will take them to you mobile website– much more natural and easy than having to locate your brand in a specific vendor’s app store.
  • It’s less of a hassle for everyone involved. When you make a change to a mobile website, you don’t need to get anyone’s approval (like you would with a native app)– you just push the changes through.  Consumers also don’t have to perform an update each time you update.  The mobile web is much less of a hassle for everyone involved.

Another major reason why is that the line between the mobile web and native apps is becoming increasingly blurry.  In other words, the major advantage that native apps provide– the ability to access the mobile devices capabilities to offer a richer shopping experience– is disappearing, with mobile websites increasingly be able to leverage all of the capabilities on the device.

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