It's mobile content versus mobile convenience, according to Astound's 2018 Mobile Shopping Report. The report looked at how retailers are shaping mobile in 2018 and found that mobile sites are meant to mirror desktop sites, but apps are more centered around connecting customers across channels and a convenience platform for frequent buyers.
“The distinct nature of the role apps are playing was surprising," Lauren Freedman, senior vice president of digital strategy and chief merchant of Astound Commerce, said of the report. "Content was limited, access to customer service was minimized and the focus was clearly on omnichannel capabilities and the customer checkout. It was also pleasantly surprising to see the important role mobile wallets were playing for checkout and the fact that couponing positioned the omnichannel retailer well."
When it comes to content on the mobile site, the survey showed that 96% of sites had a "what's new" section, compared to 78% of mobile apps, and 52% of mobile sites had a "trending now" section, compared to 30% of apps.
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And video's value is being used across mobile, with 84% of sites featuring video and 61% of apps featuring video. And while 56% of sites offered a retailer's blog, only 30% of apps offer the same information.
In addition, customer service tends to lag behind on apps, as 92% of mobile sites have a dedicated customer service center compared to 74% of apps.
Perhaps, the study suggests, apps are better used as a purchase tool instead of curation or discovery. Apps tend to offer quicker checkout, as the average number of clicks is 2.74, versus 3.6 on the mobile web.
And both web and app platforms seemed to lack accessible contact information, with phone numbers available on the home page on just 33% and 14%, respectively.
When it came to specific retailers, the top five mobile websites with the best experience were American Eagle Outfitters, Ulta Beauty, Macy's Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters.
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Looking at the top five mobile app performers, the report named Macy's, Sephora, The Home Depot, Victoria's Secret and American Eagle.
Moving forward, Freedman said that retailers need to understand that effective merchandising begins at the home page and must be both engaging and smartly integrated throughout in order to convert shoppers.
"They also need to make choices in the content that will resonate with their customers, while factoring in space constraints for videos, community and personalized experiences. Presenting a clear path to an on-site, designated customer service destination for self-service shoppers in need of order information or retailer specifics should also be a key priority," Freedman told FierceRetail.
"Overall, omnichannel services have become increasingly important connectors for busy shoppers and should be localized, merchandised and functional."