This past holiday season, Nielsen monitored the smartphone shopping habits of 5,000 volunteers. They concentrated on five big sellers — Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target and Walmart — and found that, combined, they reached nearly 60 percent of those shoppers.
In spite of all the hoopla around holiday shopping apps, the majority used the mobile websites to complete their purchases.
You could look at these stats and say that people don’t want to shop with apps but it’s more likely a case of e-commerce confusion.
Back in November, I downloaded Amazon’s mobile app for the iPad. Like many tablet apps, it relies heavily on graphics which was fine when I was browsing for ideas. But when I began looking for specific items, the app fell flat. Navigation beyond the top levels is near impossible and it’s hard to refine searches for items with similar titles. I gave up and used my tablet browser to shop at the full site.
As an experiment, I pulled out my iPad as I wrote this and searched Amazon for Numb3rs Season 1 on DVD. The mobile website returned a list of options with photos and details, one of which was the item I was looking for (Numb3rs The Complete First Season). The app pushed me to choose from a text drop down. I chose Season One and the only thing I was given was a streaming episode I could download for $1.99. It perplexes me why the mobile website and the mobile app don’t return the same results.
Another point of e-commerce confusion lies in the promotional app vs. a full shopping app. For example, Old Navy had a very prominent app over the holidays that led customers to their big sale items. It was an excellent companion for the in-store shopper but not really built for buying clothes for the family.
As the Nielsen chart above shows, a shopping app combined with a mobile e-commerce site is the way to go. The app is perfect for people who want to hone in on deals or browse for popular items and gift ideas. For the more detailed shopper, mobile web is the way to go.
No matter which way you go, as a marketer, it’s your job to make sure that your branded apps and mobile sites are error free, easy to navigate and offer a balance between drill-down details and one-click (or as close as possible) check-out.
The 2012 holiday season will be on us before you know it. Are you mobile ready?