Walmart and Target may be the leading big-box retailers with brick-and-mortar locations, but they are also leading the pack when it comes to mobile.
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) currently get the most online traffic from mobile devices, according to comScore, with 69 percent and 63 percent of traffic coming from mobile. But Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE: TGT) are ahead of their traditional retail brethren when it comes to developing and leveraging proprietary apps.
"I think they were the two pure play online retailers who really figured out the importance of mobile first," comScore co-founder Gian Fulgoni told Yahoo! Finance. "They developed easy to use, powerful apps."
Walmart ranks third and Target is fifth on comScore's list of best mobile retailers. In fact, shoppers are spending roughly the same amount of time on these apps as they are with Amazon's and eBay's, according to Fulgoni.
Target's Cartwheel app was an early entry from any retailer and has continued to undergo upgrades and changes. Walmart is investing heavily in mobile across a variety of platforms including an app and its e-receipt initiative that lets shoppers price match with greater ease.
The question of whether to use a proprietary or third-party app remains sticky one for retailers, many of which are still evaluating the costs and benefits of each. Even Target isn't putting all its eggs in one basket and recently announced a partnership with Curbside to test a new mobile app at 10 stores in the San Francisco market.
The solutions will likely be different for retailers of different sizes. Large chains such as Target and Walmart have the heft to support in-house programs while smaller outlets may benefit more from a third-party solution.
But waiting too long will cost and the recent Super Bowl is a good example where mobile/social promotions delivered measurable ROI and generated buzz without the $4 million price tag. The retailers that began investing resources in growing mobile early are the ones reaping these early rewards.
-See this Yahoo! Finance story
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