Have you ever wondered why so many e-commerce platforms are desperate to be among the applications on your mobile when mobile sites can provide them with a presence on people's phones? Several months ago, fashion e-commerce platform Myntra made the surprising move of shutting down its website, and declared itself an app-only platform. However, it later restored its website and re-established other channels.
Experts say that there are various reasons to push for mobile apps rather than mobile sites. The best thing about the mobile channel is that it gives companies the potential to engage with their customers in real-time, by location and complete with profile information. One of the most popular means to monetise is offering coupons. And the mobile adds an interesting layer of location-based push notifications to the coupon economy. Mobile users spend more time (86 percent) on mobile apps than on mobile websites (just 14 percent). There are various other reasons to pitch for mobile apps and explain why companies are rallying behind it.
Speaking about the use of apps to hack growth, Anshul Mengi, former Lead Software Engineer at Snapdeal, talks about Snapdeal's mobile strategy. “AB testing, using mobile deep links and app messaging techniques are some of the key parts of the mobile strategy.”
He shares how the platform started experimenting with push notifications for the FMCG category, initially with a very small cohort, and observed that the conversion rate was normally better as compared to normal notifications sent out.
Monish Kumar, Director of Marketing, reiterates the point and says that the Goibibo app helped the company understand user behaviour. “User recordings, real-time in-app analytics and other traditional mobile analytics helped us understand the target area where we could concentrate and grow further. Besides, it has been observed that users purchase higher value items on apps than websites.”
Anshul adds that various platforms are also testing between native and hybrid apps.
Native vs hybrid vs progressive web app
A native app is a smartphone application developed specifically for a mobile operating system such as Objective-C or Swift for iOS and Java for Android. Native applications have the significant advantage of being able to easily access and utilize the built-in capabilities of the user's device like GPS, address book and camera. Such apps have high performance, deliver the best user experience, can be easily discovered in the app stores, offers full access to the mobile platform and works on offline mode.
A Progressive Web App uses modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience. Such apps bring features we expect from native apps to the mobile browser experience in a way that uses standards-based technologies and run in a secure container accessible to anyone on the web. Progressive Web Apps describe a collection of technologies, design concepts, and Web APIs that work in tandem to provide an app-like experience on the mobile web.
“Of the three app categories, every category has some downturn too, and probably, each platform chooses the category based on its requirement and consumers' demography,” says Anshul.
Apps meet resistance
When asked about the retention of apps by users, Anshul and Monish both admit that it totally depends on the consumers' need and loyalty towards the platform. In spite of the fact that apps meet a lot of resistance to find space on a user's phone, companies can't stop trying.
“Irrespective of all the resistance, we can't withdraw. Our aim is to address the issues of consumers and eventually make them loyal towards us,” says Monish.
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