More and more smartphone users are no longer downloading newer apps but clearing up their phones instead, by removing the apps they rarely touch. If an e-commerce website had ever asked you to install the app to ‘continue’ with the experience, those days are long gone.
Amazon, Walmart, or Dollar Shave Club. They all have first-class mobile apps.
However, the shopping experience on Chrome, Safari or any popular browser has visibly transformed, especially in the last 3 years. It’s not just the identical interfaces but also the browsing speed of online storefronts that have made almost half of the online shoppers stick with a browser and forget its corresponding app icon resting idle somewhere in the phone.
Does it mean that e-commerce businesses should accelerate their research to perfect the web apps only, as installable shopping apps might vanish in the next 4-5 years?
Apps are going nowhere!
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) or the traditional native ones, app icons are here to stay. Not because they look adorable, but they have an edge over their browser-based counterparts.
There are several features that are exclusive to installable mobile apps as these functionalities cannot be mimicked with a browser at present.
Even if your web app runs extremely smooth, fast and caters to most of your customers, let’s understand –
Why your e-commerce store still needs a mobile application
1. The freedom
Mobile apps can be fully customized for branding, design, utilities, user engagement, push notifications, and personalization. However, a web app has to follow browser rules for design and features. But native apps do not fall under browser limitations and can process complex data instantaneously with faster results.
2. Apps can access device features
A native app can access and interact with every hardware control like sensors, fingerprint scanner for security, camera for AR, QR code, NFC for payments, contacts, etc. At present, browser-based e-commerce web apps are very restricted to connect with device features and perform such tasks.
3. Mobile apps do not stop working suddenly when there’s no internet
4. Mobile apps are faster than web apps!
Furthermore, having a presence at all platforms augments the revenue as a mobile app contributes to increasing the Customer Lifetime Value and conversion rate. With tailor-made apps, brands are also making customer interaction easier and seamless. As a result, various researches suggest that consumers spend more time on apps than websites.
On the contrary, if mobile apps prove to be better in so many ways, then why so many brands spend considerable resources to fine-tune their mobile websites and try to make them work just like an app?
It is because the inverse is not true either way. Both mobile apps and web apps have their own pros and cons. Consider these facts:
- Although it’s true that loyal customers prefer to use a mobile app, businesses cannot afford to ignore seasonal shoppers. Sporadic customers, those who google for a product and end up on a website, make a sizeable cut of the revenue. Hence, e-commerce brands have to make their web applications appear second to none.
- Developing and maintaining a responsive website is cheaper than an app.
- A website is crucial for brand recognition. Imagine a scenario when a storefront rolls out an app but its web page only shows a message like ‘install the app’ to look for products. An e-commerce store with a unique identity must have a domain name that actually sells the products instead of redirecting the visitors to an app link.
Therefore, it is not a question of choosing one platform. If you are into e-commerce, you have to cover every direction.
Web apps have evolved lately. They resemble mobile apps’ efficiency with recent advancements. But neither of them is going to fill the void completely, not in the next 5 years at least.
A day may come when browser-only web apps would make the installable apps obsolete. They would be able to access hardware functionalities and process complicated data, just like the native apps. The assumption is achievable but far.
Technologies change very rapidly. What we believe today might not hold true in the future. Let’s wait and see for ourselves how mobile technology progresses in the future.