Going Native – why the native app is the natural choice for retailers

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2014 provided us with a plethora of statistics and colourful diagrams explaining that Internet usage via the mobile phone was, as expected, on the rise. Proponents of the mobile website discussed its benefits and the popularity of responsive design, and how it cost less than developing dedicated apps. Google - with a 67% share of the browser market - announced that it would recommend responsive design configurations. Flurry Analytics - owned by Yahoo – stated, on the other hand, that native apps were increasing their domination of the mobile web, surpassing the direct smartphone web usage by a massive 68%.

 

apps continue to dominate the mobile web

 

By all indications, the primary gateway to the Internet is now by a mobile device – tablet or smartphone. But what is the best way to manage customer interactions? Browser, app, or both?

 

Browsers and apps have different benefits

Responsive web design is cost effective, giving you flexibility to launch when you please. If designed smartly,  you are producing one site for all devices. However, you must also prepare yourself for issues with glitches, screen re-sizing and response time.

Providing one solution for all device types isn't as easy as it may seem. 60% of online interactions such as: social networking, shopping and browsing starts on a phone. And the reason is: convenience. Consumers need their information on the go. They want it in a format that allows for easy navigation and efficient use. Mobile apps set the bar high in this regard. Responsive design will adjust the size for you but you might need to zoom in and out of your screen in order to complete a basic search or purchase. Messy.

Adopting the native app approach does mean more stringent testing and you lose release control to Apple, Google and Windows who will decide when you can launch a version. Once you overcome that, the native app is far more compatible to the device specific utilities such as the camera, microphone, browser, photos and the increasingly important location services.

 

Only an app can exploit the full potential of location based services

Mobile is the biggest growing retail sales channel, with growth of 47% recorded in the US for Q2 2014.

Q2 2014 Retail Spending Growth by Channel

Retailers are responding with a noticeable increase in digital directorship positions being filled this year. To reach their customers via their phone in a focussed and convenient way, time and place is everything. Knowing how to master the digital channels is key. There is only one way to do this, and that is via the native app. With the ability to take advantage of the device specific utilities and specifically the location services, it provides the retailer with the opportunity to open another channel of specific and timely communication.

 

Both the mobile website and the mobile app will allow you to communicate effectively, but what is the motivation behind your choice? Are you choosing the technology to benefit you or your customer?

 

Your focus of course should be your customer, and the smartphone is the biggest sales channel available to you. The native app is therefore the only way to allow you to meet that full potential.

Peter Weare

Industry leader in mobile location. Passionate about delivering a frictionless consumer mobile experience. Regular commenter on getting delivery right.

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