Mobile Site or Mobile App: Which is Right for Your Business?
Retailers face a multitude of questions and options when developing a mobile strategy. One of the key debates is how to "go mobile" — i.e., whether to invest in the development of a mobile website or a mobile app to reach customers and prospects. A company's decision to build a mobile-optimized website or a stand-alone, branded app, or even both, should be made based on what the ultimate goal is for the target audience as well as the available resources to support the constantly changing content, either in conjunction with or independent of the main website.
Done properly, a well-developed mobile strategy can serve as an effective channel to enticing consumers to make online purchases. It can also supplement the in-store experience, as well as engage consumers in a new way that keeps your brand, products and/or services at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
Mobile Sites: Reach a Broad Global Audience
Are you looking at mobile commerce as a way to create a presence in regions where you don't have a brick-and-mortar establishment? Are your target shoppers more likely to use a mix of devices to shop, including smartphones, laptops and desktop computers? Does your average customer spend a long time browsing before finally making a purchase? If so, then a mobile website may be the right strategic choice for your brand.
A mobile website gives retailers the most broad and accessible coverage for their audience. The best mobile sites should be accessible by all common mobile browsers and should update in conjunction with changes that occur on your primary website. Ensuring that the content on the site's mobile version is up to date is a top priority.
Mobile Apps: Reach Tech-Savvy Consumers
Does your business have the resources to build and support its own app, one that's content-rich and consistent with your existing brand? Will your app be compelling enough for consumers to actually use it? Are your target consumers generally tech-savvy? A recent study by the Pew Research Center revealed that 35 percent of adults surveyed download apps, but only two-thirds of those consumers actually use them. These users tend to be male, technically proficient, more affluent and under the age of 30. Does this describe your target shopper?
If so, a mobile app may be the right move for your business. Offering a mobile app can give consumers more functionality, versatility, speed and a more exclusive user experience, but that typically comes with higher development costs and an increased burden to keep content up to date across all versions and devices.
Aside from cost, the greatest challenge of app development is motivating adoption by consumers who are already flooded with app options. While there's some evidence of "app fatigue" in the consumer psyche, many organizations’ apps continue to be wildly successful.
Mobile Worldwide: The Case for Localization
A report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project showed that mobile devices are now the primary access point for online content. More than half of the internet's traffic now comes from mobile web surfers, and the smartphone is the most common avenue for online shopping by global consumers. While it was once acceptable to develop content only in English, the changing demographics of mobile commerce around the globe now dictate that retailers who hope to be successful in these markets offer content in the native languages of their target consumers as well as adhere to local standards and customs to ensure user engagement and customer conversion.
Just as website localization shifted from "nice to have" to "need to have" for players in the global economy, mobile content localization is now experiencing the same change as more retailers see its potential. Global consumer spending patterns have reinforced this need.
When you make the leap to support multiple languages, be certain that you partner with a provider that can not only provide the content localization you require, but also one who can conduct testing on all versions of your sites and/or apps to verify that they're compatible on all common mobile platforms and operating systems. Through this process of post-localization testing, you can be sure that language, design and functionality are all optimized for your markets, thus ensuring the best possible user experience.
Whether you're leaning toward a mobile site or mobile app, the good news is that your decision to emphasize mobile content delivery on all devices and in all languages means that you're already on the right track toward engaging consumers — and ultimately increasing sales — around the globe.