Reasons Why Mobile Apps Represent The Most Popular e-Commerce Channel

A new report by marketing and research firm Criteo reveals that mobile apps grabbed the lion’s share of e-commerce transactions in 4Q’17 for retailers that have shopping apps.

This is a big deal, as more and more retailers are seeing the advantage of having a dedicated mobile app to make things easier on shoppers. Some are even making a major push to make their apps commonplace, with retail giants like Wal-Mart pitching the app in stores and even adding scan-and-pay functionality that lets shoppers scan items as they pick them up to skip most of the hassle of checkout.

Why are retailers making such a push toward mobile apps? This is a complicated question, and the answer may vary at least in part to the specific sector that the retailer operates in. This doesn’t mean that we can’t examine some of the reasons that mobile apps are becoming so popular as an e-commerce option, of course.

Here are just a few of the factors that have influenced the rise of mobile apps in eCommerce:

Increased Mobile Power

One of the reason that mobile apps are becoming a greater force in e-commerce is because phones and tablets are becoming more powerful.

Devices with more memory and greater processing power let app creators do more with their apps, incorporating more advanced features without worrying about poor performance on underpowered devices. These capabilities create a better overall user experience, which in turn makes users more likely to use the apps. After all, who wants to use an e-commerce app that loads slowly and features a clunky user interface?

These more powerful devices also help to drive users to spend more time on their devices instead of on traditional computers. With more people using phones, tablets and other devices more frequently, putting well-designed e-commerce apps on these devices will help ensure that consumers will spend more time shopping on these apps as well.

On-the-Go Shopping

Until relatively recently, consumers had two primary ways to shop: They could either head out and go to the store, or they could sit at home and order goods online from a PC.

Mobile apps have now largely bridged the gap between the two. While shoppers could use mobile browsers before to visit Amazon or other online stores, the mobile browsing experience hasn’t always been the greatest. Even with more mobile-optimized websites available, mobile apps typically offer a more mobile-focused shopping experience that stripped-down mobile versions of websites have a hard time competing with.

Easy Comparisons

Another reason that mobile apps are gaining popularity is the ease with which users can comparison shop.

In a store and want to see if you can find a product cheaper online? Simply fire up the Amazon app or a similar shopping app and use a built-in barcode scanner to search for the item. You can even swap between a few different apps to check prices at multiple online outlets without having to type in a new URL for each. If you find a better price you can then go ahead and order while you continue the rest of your shopping at the store.

Retailer Focus

Of course, one big reason why mobile apps are growing in popularity is the fact that stores are more actively pushing their mobile options.

The reasoning is that if you install a company’s mobile app, you’re that much more likely to use the app and order things from that company. Even if you have Amazon, Wal-Mart and a few other retailers’ apps installed on your phone, that’s still a lot fewer options than you would find searching for a product on Google.

Retailers want you to download and install their apps, using every opportunity to remind you that the app is available. Some retailers with physical locations even hand out flyers to customers as a means of reminding them that the mobile app is an option.

Brick-and-Mortar Integration

Though it’s not a major factor yet, moving forward we’ll see the app channel continue to grow as more retailers integrate their apps into the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Wal-Mart is leading the way in this regard, but other retailers are sure to follow suit.

Whether it’s making mobile apps a part of the shopping experience, offering coupons or discounts for using the mobile app or incorporating mobile pay via the app as a way to buy things in physical stores, the app domination of eCommerce is just getting started.