What Wins The Mobile Race: Apps Or Web Sites?

  • May 14, 2014 at 12:01 PM EDT
  • By Retail TouchPoints Team
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The retail industry has been in a constant state of debate regarding whether consumers prefer a mobile-optimized site or application. 

The Retail TouchPoints edit team shared their thoughts, as well as a few merchants they believe are leading the mobile pack. Their thoughts are below:

Debbie Hauss, Editor-In-Chief: I think there’s still a lot of work to be done to get the mobile technology optimized just right for consumer use. Most of the mobile apps I use are for services such as banking and travel. Sometimes they work well and are intuitive and other times I find myself struggling to stretch the screen in order to navigate properly, then un-stretch to view the entire page. My two current favorite mobile apps are accuweather.com and the app for the Lifetime fitness club. The Expedia app also works pretty well. My least favorite ismoviefone.com – but I find their traditional web site clunky as well. 


Alicia Fiorletta, Senior Editor: This may sound like a cop-out answer, but my usage of mobile sites versus apps really depends on the retailer, my loyalty to said retailer, and how “best-in-class” their mobile shopping experience is. For example, Topshop has a super streamlined mobile site experience; the retailer even removed certain features from the standard site to make browsing and buying easier for smartphone shoppers. However, some apps are very valuable, and add a little something extra to my journey. For example, Sephora’s mobile app has a variety of tools and features such as videos, popular products, a social beauty board and gives me easy access to my loyalty account.

Kim Zimmermann, Managing Editor: I prefer apps over mobile-optimized web sites, although I have to admit I don’t use either very much, as I find them slow and clunky for the most part (and, admittedly, I can be slow and clunky when looking things up on my phone.) I do like the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app. I use it to buy my coffee most mornings, and I find it easy and quick to navigate. I think the key for me is that it is fairly stripped down and not trying to cram a thousand options onto my small screen. 

Glenn Taylor, Associate Editor: A well-constructed app seems to make my mobile experiences much easier, especially given the simplicity in the way they can be developed. Mobile web sites tend to throw me off, especially if I’m already used to the desktop web site presentation. Of course, app quality is widely ranged depending on the design/features, but a sleek interface with interactive logos can go a long way in keeping my attention high. The 7-Eleven app always gives me a great idea which items are discounted in nearby stores, and often sends relevant coupons that can be redeemed at all participating locations.

Brian Anderson, Associate Editor: Mobile apps always seem to win me over compared to  its mobile web site counterparts. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a positive shopping experience through a mobile-optimized website because there is always an instance where some piece of a site’s “responsive design” is a bit too unresponsive. My experience with StubHub has always been great from a mobile perspective. The app is simple, designed with easy search capabilities and sticks to this minimalist mentality through every step of the mobile shopping journey. For me, the easier it is for me shop via mobile, the better.



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