Tablets and smartphones have sparked the rapid ascension of the mobile ecommerce sector, and that growth isn't expected to slow down anytime soon. If you don't want to take my word for it, there are plenty of studies out there to back this statement up.
If you're a small business owner, this is mostly good news. You might not feel like it is - after all, you may have just gotten a handle on the whole internet website thing. Adding mobile into the mix means you have yet another platform to manage.
I understand your concern, but trust me when I say it's not as difficult as it seems. All you need to do is have the right focus in mind.
Ignore deploying an app - for now
If you have a smartphone or tablet yourself, chances are you've downloaded several applications - The New York Times app, for instance, or ESPN's Scorecenter.
You might be thinking that apps are the best - maybe even the only - way to tap into your mobile audience. If so, you'd be surprised to find out that's how little truth there is to that notion.
It all depends on what you're trying to do. If I'm looking at interacting with sports or news, apps may make sense. But if you're looking for a local restaurant because you're standing in downtown Boston, and you've never been there, it's just as easy to do a search on Google and find some local restaurants.
A recent MDG Advertising study found that mobile consumers still prefer browsers over applications for:
- Shopping, cited by 73 percent of respondents.
- Three in five consumers use mobile browsers rather than apps for entertainment purposes.
- Searches, which 63 percent of mobile users conduct on their browsers rather than through apps. Considering three-quarters of mobile searches lead to follow-up actions, this is especially important.
Mobile websites make your life easier too
Not only do your customers prefer your mobile websites to apps for a number of uses, but effective mobile design and management can benefit you in many ways, beginning with easier integration.
One of the biggest considerations you probably have right now is how to make your website compatible with different platforms. The beauty of mobile browsers is that an integrated site works across different devices - laptops, tablets, smartphones, you name it. Apps, on the other hand, have to be deployed specifically for each device or operating system. That means an integrated mobile site means less work in both the short and long run, without losing out on the benefits.
In addition, you've probably heard all about data analysis by now. Implementing a quality website allows you to tap into the potential of data analytics by tracking all types of consumer behavior.
I understand why you want to develop a mobile app, but that's a project you should be thinking about down the road. Right now, you should focus on creating a top-of-the-line mobile website.