You Don’t Need or Want a Mobile Shopping App
This article from April 2014 on Tech Crunch, entitled “Mobile App Usage Increases In 2014, As Mobile Web Surfing Declines”, talks about how a majority of mobile usage is done within apps (86%) versus mobile browsers (14%). It breaks out the app usage by category and top categories include gaming, social web and entertainment. The chart in the article actually lists all the app categories from gaming (32%) down to other (3%).
Kudos to Tech Crunch, but let’s be clear, there is one category in the Mobile App vs Web browser war where the opposite is true, SHOPPING (actually, the killer mobile app is search and this too is dominated by browsers, of course)!
If you read the article, you’ll see that one category – near and dear to all our hearts – is completely missing. Why? There are many reasons for this, but the two main ones are:
1. Research is done via search and surfing. When a consumer impulsively (and usually subconsciously) decides that she/he needs to buy something, more often than not, the first action they take is to do a quick search, and…
2. No one retailer (yes Amazon that includes you) fulfills all consumer needs. And because of this, it is almost impossible for any retailer to convince anybody (other than their absolute, most fanatic customers) to absorb precious phone memory resources and screen pixels by downloading their app.
After all, how often does anyone really need to open that Office Depot app? Capiche? If there was one, omnipresent, uber “Acme” retailer (any Bugs Bunny fans out there…) then a mobile shopping app might crush it. But because Acme only exists in the cartoons, it is almost impossible to convince (and incredibly expensive) to get a person to download a single store mobile app.
Finally, if mobile app usage were truly and exclusively dominate across all categories (e.g. social, news, productivity), mobile traffic would be declining to retailer websites. In fact, it is growing substantially. A week or so ago, Internet Retailer released an article projecting mobile sales to be 29% ($86B) of all e-commerce in 2014. Considering this is an increase of 53.5% from last year ($56B), it clearly indicates that mobile shopping is rapidly growing and since a fractional percentage of mobile app usage is in shopping apps (so fractional it wasn’t even part of the chart), it shows that a majority of mobile sales are occurring in browser-based shopping sessions on smartphones and tablets.
While there is a huge uptick on mobile app usage, don’t get caught up thinking that a majority of mobile sales are occurring through apps – they’re not.