In the previous article, the challenge of too many devices was already discussed. One of the questions with which many retailers are being confronted is whether they should support a mobile site (a mobile site is an online shop based on HTML and optimized for mobile devices), mobile app or both.
The customer perspective
From a customer perspective mobile apps offer more functionality than a mobile website (see also What are the opportunities of mobile?). Where mobile websites can often not offer things like location-based services, product scanning and augmented reality, or only at great costs, these features can easily be offered via an app.
Customers may also expect a retailer to offer a shopping app. Not offering it may give the customer the feeling of standing in front of a closed door and the retailer misses out on a conversion opportunity, the very reason to engage in mobile commerce.
The financial perspective
When Apple introduced its iPhone in 2010, the general believe was that apps were the future. Several years later, retailers are no longer so sure. In practice, consumers may download the app of a retailer but hardly anybody uses it. They may use the Amazon, eBay and local supermarket apps for the weekly shopping but that is about it. According to ComScore this even applies to large, international retailers such as Walmart and Target. Other studies come to the same conclusion; few consumers use retail apps frequently. The reason could be found in the lack of alignment with business processes.