Why the mobile Web – and not apps – is the best channel for sales

By Michael Darnaud

A recent ZMags survey, “Meet the connected consumer,” shows that 87 percent of connected consumers prefer to use Web sites and browser-based mobile sites for browsing and shopping, whereas only 4 percent prefer smartphone and tablet applications.

ZMags even concludes that “retailers need to think about the purpose of these apps and determine the role of the app in the customer lifecycle.”

An earlier study, commissioned by Adobe in October 2010 and titled “In-the-Know about On-the-Go: Adobe Captures What Mobile Users Want,” already indicated that 67 percent of shoppers “strongly prefer using mobile Web sites over mobile apps for all shopping-related activities,” so the trend has dramatically accelerated in the past 15 months.


Losing appetite
The reality is that consumers have a hard time keeping track of multiple apps – not to mention having to update them periodically – and would much rather keep more space for music and photos on their smartphones.

Yahoo may well have been showing others the way by announcing last month that it was retiring a number of apps due to poor usage.

In other studies released right after last year’s shopping season, more than 40 percent of mobile buyers reported being unhappy with their shopping experience and consumers still routinely abandon their online shopping carts up to 70 percent of the time.

What can the industry do to demonstrate that it is actually listening to its users?

The first wave of mobile commerce development has favored massive investment in apps for different platforms and different purposes – special promotions, comparison shopping and loyalty programs.

As in any new product introduction, now is the time to evaluate customer feedback via real life behavior to make changes accordingly and also to look at the bottom line.

The connected-consumer study shows that it makes sense to separate the wheat from the chaff and streamline the number of apps, so that a portion of development resources can be re-assigned to improving site design for the mobile Web in favor of the customer’s experience.

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