Last year can officially be dubbed the Year of the Mobile App. For the first time, consumers got serious about shopping on their phones, for everything from clothes to cars to diamonds. Mobile Marketing Watch reports that mobile sales skyrocketed from $363 million in 2009 year to $4.9 billion this year.
But while everyone from eBay to Net-a-Porter has been developing their own mobile shopping experience, a clear trend has emerged: apps are dwarfing the mobile web in numbers created, money invested, and marketing efforts spent by retailers.
Thousands of stores and brands now have apps, and millions of dollars are spent developing and launching them. But with the mobile web, there’s a distinct lack of excitement from both retailers and shoppers – while many people know Google Shopper and other popular apps, most consumers can’t name a single “amazing” and well-known mobile website, because, well, there isn’t one.
Earlier this month, we covered a study in which researchers questioned smartphone users on their thoughts on mobile ads. In the second leg of the study, done by marketing firm Group SJR and sponsored by Liz Claiborne Inc., the findings focused on what consumers want out of apps and the mobile web — and what they’re not getting.
According to the findings, one of two scenarios emerges when you go to a retailer’s mobile website on your smartphone:
- The site has little or no mobile optimization, it takes forever to load, and then requires scrolling to see the whole page, links, etc.
- A mobile optimized site comes up that is easy to navigate and quick to load, but is oversimplified, under-designed and often stripped down in terms of functionality (no zoom, angles, search box, etc.)
But, the research indicates, this mobile web neglect is likely to change, and fast. As the marketplace continues to evolve – flip phones have become smart phones, screen size and clarity have improved dramatically, 3G and now 4G mean faster mobile web speeds – the evolution of mobile web can’t be far behind. Shoppers are looking for a more comprehensive mobile experience, with a level of sophistication that apps alone can’t give them.
The key, according to the study, is combining the greater flexibility and features of a mobile website, and the interactivity (saved login info, geolocation) and easy navigability of an app, into one streamlined experience: “The best strategies are ones that harness a great experience on the mobile web, combined with a brand building content or activity based app that support the desktop ecommerce experience and other marketing /advertising efforts (see netaporter.com).
These strategies do exist right now…but they are rare.”
Disclosure: The study was sponsored by Liz Claiborne Inc., which is the financial sponsor of this site.