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October 21, 2015

Which Should You Choose: An eCommerce Website or eCommerce App for Your Business?

Image courtesy of (arztsamui)/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The eCommerce industry is one of the most profitable (and quickest growing) industries in the world. Worldwide sales are currently worth more than $1 trillion and is experiencing an annual growth rate of roughly 15 percent. In the U.S. alone, eCommerce revenue is expected to reach nearly $500 billion 2018.

Companies like Amazon and Overstock are enormously successful, but with eCommerce growing at such a quick rate, there is plenty of room for the up-and-coming entrepreneur. So the question is not, “Should I get involved” in the industry; it’s how you should go about getting involved.

eCommerce became big with the success of websites such as the aforementioned Amazon. CEO Jeff Bezos and his team made billions of dollars through superior coding, a robust design and an excellent interface. However, it is natural to wonder if the age of websites has been replaced by the ever-present age of apps.

So what’s the answer? eCommerce app or website? The truth is that websites have not completely passed us by — at least not yet. The smart business question is with which option should a business start?

eCommerce Website

Advantages:

  • Extremely powerful and customizable. Websites can do more than an app. With multiple pages and Web development tools, websites are a comprehensive option.
  • Searching for products is really easy on a website. Most SmartPhone users don’t use their phones to search for products (more than 80 percent of users prefer to shop on a website).
  • Approximately 60 percent of all money going to eCommerce came from websites in 2014.
  • Great development tools like Magento can help construct an eCommerce website in a matter of a few weeks.
  • More users will go to a website on their phone than an app while in a eCommerce store’s physical location. While this is not applicable to entirely digital enterprises like Amazon, it is useful to keep in mind for businesses with a real world store.
  • Websites provide a certain legitimacy to a company that apps don’t. As apps grow in popularity, this will likely not be as big of a concern. But for now, it’s good to remember it.

Disadvantages:

  • Websites are decreasing in popularity and may very well end up being a thing of the past within a decade.
  • Website coding can be time consuming and expensive, especially without options like Magento. Creating a robust and powerful code is no simple matter.
  • Apps drive loyalty and customer engagement better. This will be discussed below as well, but it is an important point. Loyalty is essential to a thriving business.

NOTE: No matter what, a website absolutely needs to be optimized for mobile devices. Not only will it make your users happier, it will also improve your Google Search rating. Even more important, SmartPhone and tablet traffic are quickly growing and will account for the vast majority of web traffic by 2020.

eCommerce App

Advantages:

  • Mobile eCommerce accounts for nearly 10 percent of all eCommerce revenue and is likely to grow.
  • Mobile apps are cheaper to construct and usually take less time;
  • Eighty-nine percent of all consumer time spent on media occurs within an app;
  • It is easier to create a customized user experience through a mobile app. This is largely thanks to the major analytic tools that can track a Smartphone user’s activity quite well. Retailers can easily take advantage of these tools to make a very personalized experience for a user, based entirely on their activity patterns; and
  • With an app, retailers can instantaneously inform users of discounts, sales, promotions and so on. Even better, the notices can be leveraged to drive traffic to actual stores and can be customized based upon a user’s location.

Disadvantages:

  • As mentioned above, consumers prefer to use websites over apps when e-shopping. This is likely to change, but for now you’re missing out on a huge chunk of the possible market;
  • Not as robust. Websites are easier to use — a point proven by the fact that the vast majority of users will go to a retailer’s mobile website when on their phone, even if they have the app; and
  • Mobile apps are a great way to maintain an existing client base, but require constant effort in order to be useful.

The Take-Away:

A website is an extremely important resource for an eCommerce website. It is the best way to reach the majority of customers and is used by more users than an app. That being said, apps are growing exponentially in popularity and could surpass websites as the go-to consumer tool eventually.

Obviously, for entirely Web-based business, a website is absolutely essential. But perhaps it is an essential aspect to any current successful business. Of course, it is absolutely arguable that a mobile app is just as vital to a successful eCommerce venture. While websites expand your potential market, apps allow you to engage and keep users.

In conclusion, It is probably best to start with a mobile website. It will help a company establish a strong foothold in the industry and will help to legitimize a business. Of course, starting with a mobile website is a smart move, but as your business grows it will become quickly necessary to create an app as well.


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Sakshi Sharma works at the Bay Area’s Website and App development firm. SDI specializes in development, design, and market strategies for a range of tech solutions. If you would like to know more, feel free to reach out, or find her on twitter @SoftwaredevIn

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