In running your eCommerce store, you’ve probably been faced with the question of whether you need a native mobile app. You may have even questioned if a mobile app is better than spending the time and money on developing a responsive site. We’ve collected some of the pros and cons for each here to help you make the best decision for your business.
Native apps’ biggest benefit over responsive sites is the customer loyalty opportunities that they present. Customers who want to feel connected to the brand and carry it with them will often opt in for downloading an application, especially if there’s added incentives like Free Shipping for any order placed in the app.
In keeping with creating customer loyalty, apps offer some unique methods of reaching your customer base. Push notifications and alerts create a sense of connection and urgency with your client base that doesn’t come from a responsive site without the use of another third party, such as a text marketing service.
Native apps also offer the capability of attaching to a device’s other functions such as the camera or calendar. While this may not seem like a huge limitation, with user generated content taking over the web, native integrations to cameras or photos make it that much easier to get that desired content.
A responsive site does have a few leg ups over a native app, such as the ability to use without installation, requiring fewer updates, and the ability to be viewed on various devices without being tailored to any specific operating system.
Responsive sites take the SEO cake because they are visible to search engines. Because mobile apps don’t have a footprint with search engines, any content present is rendered useless to Google bots. However, a responsive site that is SEO-optimized provides some self-marketing value.
Responsive sites are also device agnostic, meaning that they adjust to every screen size without creating a site design for each potential one. Apps, on the other hand, require frequent updates and reprogramming with each new popular phone or OS that’s introduced. From that perspective, responsive sites offer a cost saving benefit. Merchants have less up keep when an app or mobile specific site don’t exist, but rather your site responds to every instance imaginable.
If you’re looking to get the most reward for the minimum investment, go with a responsive site design. Do keep in mind, that the two are not mutually exclusive. If you have the time, energy, and money to invest in both a responsive website and a mobile app, then both types of consumers’ needs will be met.