Retail businesses need to face many challenges in order to connect with their clients. Technology has leveled the playing field for small companies, but it is still difficult, even if you are a big retailer, to keep up to date with consumer trends. Competition can be strong, so having at your disposition the best available tools becomes necessary. Having a website or a mobile app for your business was once a luxury, but it is now mandatory.
One of the questions most retail executives have is whether to invest in a mobile app or a mobile-friendly website. Both are legit alternatives that allow businesses to connect with users, but they serve different purposes.
Although the answer to the question ultimately depends on your business strategy, having a retail mobile app can open many more possibilities. In this post we discuss the advantages of mobile retail websites and apps, and we also give you Koombea’s analysis on how a mobile app can be more potent for your business than a website.
Mobile Retail Website
The first thing to keep in mind is that the ideal scenario for any retailer should be to have both a website and a mobile app. Each has its own strengths, so having both can give you the best result. However, we know that this is not a possibility for everyone. Sometimes it has to be either one or the other.
What are the advantages of a mobile retail website? In general, they are good at accessibility, that is, helping everyone interact with your business. Also, they are great for improving your outreach. Sharing a website is easy on social media, and having a good SEO can help you position your business in search engines like Google and Bing. Another good thing about having a mobile retail website is that, because it is visualized through a browser, it is compatible with any device. Lastly, maintaining a website is relatively cheaper than a mobile app.
However, having a mobile retail website also has its disadvantages. For a start, websites are mainly thought for desktop versions, and even though being responsive can adapt a website to any mobile screen, the functionality is not the same. This affects the UX of your business when compared to an app. Additionally, a website lags in terms of available features due to limited APIs. Last but not least, a regular website cannot function properly without an internet connection.
Mobile Retail App
Mobile retail apps also have their strengths and weaknesses. One of the most important strengths of a mobile retail app is that it can work natively on your mobile device even with a limited internet connection or none at all. Although offline functionalities are limited, it is better than having none at all.
An app is a great idea if you want to deliver a great personalized experience tailored to your business needs. Having your own app allows you to make use of certain features that are not easily available through a website (GPS, click to call, camera, etc.). Another important feature is that retail mobile apps are particularly helpful to develop customer loyalty programs and deliver a great UX. Lastly, as data privacy regulations become stricter, an app can help you understand your customers better.
Mobile retail apps also have their downside. In particular, they require periodic maintenance, potentially consuming a considerable amount of resources if not done properly; we highly recommend performing quality assurance tests to keep your app on track. Finally, depending on the programming language, an app may lack the same compatibility across devices as a website.
Which One to Choose?
So, with this in mind, which one should you choose for your business? At Koombea we believe that a mobile app will always be better than a website for your retail business. Although a website can deliver certain benefits, nothing compares to a great personalized shopping experience.
A mobile app helps strengthen your brand thanks to the design possibilities it allows, and in the digital world, this can be a game-changer. This might sound like a minor thing, but having a great UX tailored to your needs can actually help increase engagement and conversion. These two metrics are really important for any retail business, so you should start considering them as a priority in case you aren’t already.
Although the investment is higher, in the long term a retail mobile app will bring you greater benefits. Thanks to platforms like Shopify, a mobile app can help you increase control over your business; here are some ideas. Nothing says better that you are a professional at what you do than having your own app.
PWA: The Best of Both Worlds
There is a third alternative that many people don’t know yet because of its relative novelty. I’m talking about progressive web apps (PWAs). If you don’t know what it is you should check this post. A PWA is an alternative that allows your business to combine the best of a website and a mobile app. With it, you can preserve features like being able to function locally without an Internet connection and at the same time deliver a great UX. Because it offers the best of both worlds, a PWA might be what your retail business needs. Users can choose whether to use it directly from the web or from their phones.
If you are considering a mobile website or app for your retail business we highly recommend you develop it with a quality development partner. Doing so can help you not only acquire the tools you need for your app, but also the necessary strategic vision to grow. Certified as a Shopify Plus Partner, at Koombea we have the knowledge and expertise as a retail app developer to help you decide what’s the best option for your business. If you are not sure just schedule a free consultation with us. We’d love to contribute to your project.