In spite of the increasing number of retailers offering branded mobile apps, more shoppers are consulting retailers' websites when researching purchases than are using the same retailers' mobile apps, according to a new study released by Nielsen today.
When you think about your own habits when shopping (or randomly looking things up on your phone), it's not that surprising: The majority of people will just search retailers' names and arrive at their website that way. Most active smartphone users' phones are cluttered enough with apps so they are reluctant to download branded apps -- when invited to download the app upon arrival on a retailer's website, most people will click "No."
When comparing 5,000 smartphone users' activity upon visiting five top retailers' websites (Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target and Walmart) and/or using their mobile apps, Nielsen found that 51% preferred their mobile sites versus 28% who opted for mobile apps during the 2011 holiday season (see graph below).
“Retailers need to think of their business as a multi-channel environment that can potentially include mobile, online, and bricks and mortar stores,” said John Burbank, Nielsen's President of Strategic Initatives. “Winning with shoppers requires a consistent experience across channels that reinforces the values you represent as a retail brand, whether it be price, service, reviews, selection, style, or other key attributes.”
For all intents and purposes, Nielsen is endorsing an omnichannel experience, something we have been blogging about a lot lately.
This study demonstrates that retailers are best served by strategy that offers consumers the information they need, regardless of where they're looking: online, via their phones, via mobile apps or even when they walk into a store to inquire. And as Burbank mentioned, the experience of transmitting this information must be consistent across all channels.
So the question for retailers shouldn't be: Should I improve/mobilize my website or create a mobile app? It should be: How can I do both, on top of improving the in-store customer experience, at once?
The answer is a holistic one: Deliver an omnichannel experience.