Shoppers prefer mobile websites over mobile apps

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Smartphone owners that use their handhelds for shopping prefer mobile websites over mobile apps, Nielsen revealed Mar. 12. These statistics, compiled during the 2011 holiday season by metering 5000 US-based volunteers visiting top-five retail mobile sites and apps, was based on information gathered by Nielsen Smartphone Analytics, said Nielsen communications analyst Matthew Hurst.

From Oct. 31 2011 to Feb. 5 2012, Nielsen gathered data from the most popular retail apps and mobile sites, which included Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target and Walmart, and found that 47.8% of smartphone owners prefer to access the mobile web for shopping-related activities, which include finding store locations, redeeming coupons, researching products, reading reviews and performing price comparisons. By contrast, an average of 25.3% of smartphone owners preferred accessing a branded on-device app.

Ultimately, Nielsen's survey underscored the growing popularity of consumers using smartphones for shopping. During the peak month of December for instance, 59% of monitored smartphone users accessed an on-device app and/or a mobile site. “Mobile shopping has reached scale and is only going to grow as smartphone penetration continues to rise,” said John Burbank, Nielsen's president of strategic initiatives on a blog postec.

Nielsen's numbers might indicate a coming watershed in consumer uptake of mobile commerce activities. Over the 2011 holiday season, many retailers saw substantial increases in profits and sales over mobile devices. And while marketers continue to debate whether smartphones and tablets will drive more sales than PCs, Nielsen emphasizes the importance for retailers to develop a multichannel strategy that incorporates mobile, online, and physical locations.

“Winning with shoppers requires a consistent experience across channels that reinforces the values you represent as a retail brand, whether it be price, service, reviews, selection, style, or other key attributes,” said Burbank on a blog post.

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