Does Your Online Store Need A Mobile App?

Launching your own online store — or even upgrading your existing one — is an exercise in decision making. What eCommerce platform should you choose? Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce? Or should you forgo an out-of-the-box solution and go custom? Which eCommerce agency suits your business needs the most?


Some of these choices are harder than others (though inCommerce can offer some help on that last one), and some of them can be downright intimidating, both for new retailers launching their first store and established ones trying to optimize their digital presence.

If you’re working for an eCommerce agency, one question you’ll be constantly asked by clients is whether their store needs a mobile app or not. And, like most of the eCommerce world’s complex questions, the answer isn’t as simple as yes or no (if it were, this article would be a lot shorter).

Whether your store needs a mobile app or not largely depends on your business goals, your industry, your customers, your budget, and a slew of other contributing factors. It’s an overwhelming amount of criteria, so we’ve put together this brief guide to help set you down the right path.



Isn’t Mobile Responsive Enough?

Customer Loyalty

Repeat/Regular Purchases


Making the Decision


Isn’t Mobile Responsive Enough?

No matter where you stand on the app decision, just about everyone agrees your online store should be mobile responsive, meaning it should offer the same quality of user experience on any mobile phone as it does on a standard desktop.

The benefits of mobile responsiveness are obvious: the percentage of consumers shopping on their phones has steadily risen the past decade and continues to do so—just last year, mobile usage surpassed desktop in the U.S, and India’s mobile eCommerce sales are projected to overtake the desktop by 2020.

So while having a standard desktop website that’s optimized for mobile is a no brainer, the responsive site still has its shortcomings. The mobile version of your site is likely going to require a strong Internet connection, meaning a shoddy user experience whenever the buyer finds themselves in an area with poor service.

And when your mobile site does load, it won’t be able to measure up to the user experience an application can deliver. Native apps (designed specifically for iOS or Android operating systems) enjoy the advantages of the device’s existing infrastructure: push notifications, location-based services, calendar integrations, and more.

All of those add up to a more engaging, practical user experience with a mobile app than with website that’s simply adjusted for mobile screens. But even with the flaws of a responsive site, is investing in an app for your online store still worth it? Here are some factors to consider when making your choice.

Customer Loyalty

The first obstacle to overcome after you’ve launched a mobile app is also the hardest: download conversion. Convincing a user to tap the download button is an art in and of itself, but once they do, it’s easier to turn them into a loyal customer.

If you’ve already managed to cultivate a loyal customer base, an app should be a no-brainer. If you’re looking to build up that loyalty, an app can absolutely help, but you’ll need to put in a decent amount of work into promoting it with app store optimization.

Repeat/Regular Purchases

Native mobile apps are especially useful if your online store vends products that require regular or repeated purchase. Because apps have access to all of the functions and features of a user’s mobile phone, it can offer periodic reminders to re-order or integrate with the phone’s calendar.

Whatever the feature is, you’re offering a useful value proposition to your customer and engaging them with your application more. A simple notification to reel the customer into your app can give you the opportunity to upsell, cross-sell, and rollout other marketing initiatives.


Retailers with a business model that prioritizes personalization should strongly consider adding a mobile app to their digital offerings. By locally saving user data, apps offer a much more personalized shopping experience than their responsive counterparts. For example. everyone takes their coffee a different way, so both the Dunkin Donuts & Starbucks apps allow their patrons to save their orders for easier use in the future.

The same goes for clothing retailers as well—by catering to a specific shopper’s size, preferences, and budget, an app can deliver a more tailored user experience. Maybe that’s why the average cart abandonment rate on apps is just twenty per cent, compared to the mobile site’s much higher ninety-seven.

Making The Decision

If you decide your retail site needs an app offering, it’s important you choose an eCommerce agency with extensive mobile app development experience. By bundling all digital eCommerce initiatives with a single agency, you can ensure you’re getting a consistent look and feel across all your online platforms.


If you want further guidance on selecting an eCommerce agency that’s right for you, head on over to inCommerce’s comprehensive agency directory. In a process full of difficult decisions, picking the right agency doesn’t have to be the hardest one.

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