A report from Nielson, one of the world’s leading market research companies into consumer habits, has found that mobile apps are losing out to mobile enabled websites. Smartphone users are consistently choosing to use their mobile browser rather than a dedicated app for browsing retailers.
The number of internet enabled smartphones is on the increase worldwide. Nielson found that on average 51% of smartphone accessed a retailer’s website either via an app or a mobile enabled website. During the Christmas period in 2011, this rate peaked at 60%. Consumers used their phones to search for the best deals to ensure they were getting a competitive price for a product or to search for discount codes or money-off tokens.
Although apps are popular, only 24% of smartphone users choose them as their preferred means of accessing retailers, compared to 45% for mobile enabled sites. Anecdotal feedback suggests that consumers do not feel apps always return the best search results. For example, one user posted:
“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.”
The Nielson survey was carried out in the USA, however, similar results have been replicated in the UK. The UK saw a 163% increase in online retailer stores being accessed by smartphones during 2011. The research agency ComScore discovered that in line with the Nielson study, UK smart phone users preferred mobile enabled websites over apps.
The vice president of ComScore Jeremy Copp concurred with the USA study, agreeing that the increased use of smartphones has altered the way consumers browse and purchase online:
“This trend represents both an opportunity and a threat for retailers. While mobile access offers retailers incremental occasions to engage with customers, it also provides customers the ability to easily compare prices at competing retailers while inside a particular retailer’s store. Retailers must get a firm handle on mobile shopping behaviour if they are to effectively navigate this changing environment.”
For marketing managers, there is increasing importance on ensuring that websites are optimized for smartphone use. Consumers want to navigate around the site on their smartphone with ease and find the products they are looking for quickly. This increased focus on mobile shopping behavior has led to several big-name retailers making renewed searches for the best employees to fill vacancies for their web design jobs.
Recruitment websites in the UK have also found similar patterns of smartphone browsing of retail sites. Retail Choice, a website dedicated to IT recruitment, finance and procurement roles for retailers, saw a 54% increase in the number of visits from mobiles last year. Neil Brodie, commercial director of RetailChoice.com said: “It’s not about where we are, it’s where we are going. Job seekers are changing their behavior and expect websites, including jobs boards to be fully mobile compatible and easy to navigate on their handheld device.”
“Whilst many organisations are developing apps to support their recruitment strategies, we believe that jobseekers would rather be able to access a mobile optimised jobs board directly through their device rather than having to go through the additional step of signing up, downloading and updating an application.”