Many e-commerce businesses are stuck between launching mobile-optimised websites or building mobile apps for their stores. This e-Commerce App vs. Website debate has become even more relevant with the e-commerce trends that arose in the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted many physical stores to shut their doors.
To best promote your business’s products and engage your customers, it’s crucial to know about the different tools and platforms available. In choosing an e-commerce app or a website, you need to decide which tools will work best for your business. After all, they have different features, strengths, and levels of impact. Now, let’s dive right in!
The case for e-commerce apps
A software application is a program that users can download on a mobile device. Users can install these from an app marketplace to use on an operating system like iOS or Android. An e-commerce app lets you digitally tailor your products and services to your clients via a downloadable channel.
As their design is simple and handy, mobile apps are much quicker to use than mobile sites. There are two types of apps: external and internal. External apps are social media apps and include Facebook and Twitter. Internal apps are developed for a specific brand, store, or entity, and they may include apps exclusive to a business’s employees.
- Has its own marketing channel
When your app is on your customer’s mobile device, you can directly connect through push notifications. With this, you can curate content based on their interests, location, purchase history, and shopping behaviour. This also allows you to send tailored offers and recommendations that will keep them coming back to your app.
- Guarantees seamless accessibility
As most customers own mobile devices, having an app allows your business to reach out to your prospective clients easily. This approach can also feel more personal.
Functions like checking out and making calls may only work when you are online. But it would be a plus to be able to use some of your app’s features, such as a product list and shop details, offline.
- Can leverage mobile device features
An app will also allow your business to make use of unique mobile device features. These include the use of the camera, geolocation features, fingerprint scan, tactile gestures, gyroscope, and push notifications.
- Needs to be downloaded before purchase
The idea of installing a product on a mobile device can discourage potential customers from making purchases. This is especially the case for older and non-tech savvy people. Clients can be even more unsure if they’re buying from a small store that doesn’t have a reputation yet. App development is thus a safer option for large established businesses.
- Requires development and continuous maintenance
Mobile app development isn’t a one-time task, and then it’s good to go. Your business needs to develop, publish, maintain, and update your app often. Each operating system will also require you to fix its compatibility issues. This will require solid experience and expertise to ensure success and profitability. Likewise, you need to work with your mobile app developer to address quality concerns.
- Must be marketed well for improved searchability
Getting your customers to use your app may be easy for large businesses. But this is not usually the case for smaller businesses. For users to choose your app, it needs to offer valuable functions and have a good marketing strategy. This may entail high advertising costs and be subject to algorithm changes.
The case for an e-commerce website
As it is your online storefront, a website is a channel where potential and existing clients can find you. It is the focal hub for how customers find and interact with you and your product. Since more people now use mobile devices to shop, ensure that you enable your website for use on phones and tablets. You can then deliver a mobile-first shopping experience.
Having a website that is also mobile-friendly simplifies your customers’ shopping experiences. This also allows them to view your site clearly on smaller screens and makes it more accessible.
A website is indexed by search engines, thus making it easier for visitors to search for and find your website. Using SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for your business can increase your website traffic and give you a broader reach and greater visibility.
- Can be accessed easily and used online
With an internet connection, users can easily access a website online without needing to download it like an app. Since it’s accessible online, your users can easily share the website and publish it on other platforms.
- Easy maintenance
Should you need to make updates to your site, the changes can reflect in real time and across all device types. But an app requires changes for each operating system so that all your clients can see and use the update. Thus, websites are easier and cheaper to maintain.
- Ensures cross-device compatibility
Unlike mobile apps, users can access a responsive website using any mobile device regardless of the operating system. Users can then leave one device and continue the same activity on another device. With its responsive design, your content will automatically scale to any screen size.
- Requires internet connection
Web and mobile sites rely on internet connections. Customers also can’t save information and other data from the site on their mobile phones.
- Entails more loading time and interruptions
Websites require more time to load and can be held up by poor internet connection. This can deflect clients from shopping or coming back to your site.
An e-commerce website can give you a robust online presence and reduce upkeep costs. A mobile app, on the other hand, offers a personalised user experience and content delivery at greater speeds. If you can, opt for both so as not to not miss any critical functions. But if you’re looking for one solution, assess what’s best for your business using our comparative analysis above.
Customer experience is what drives an e-commerce business’s success. So to ensure a better customer experience, ensure that you deliver quality content. Utilise a social media calendar, too, if you want to get organised in terms of posting timing.
With the right channel and content, you can deliver an improved customer experience, create leads, gain loyal customers, and drive more sales.
I hope this article has helped to map out the debate of an e-Commerce App vs. a Website.