Retail mobile app vs. responsive website: Which is better?

How important is customer loyalty to retailers today? Consider this: While 80% of a retailer’s future revenue is dependent on 20% of its existing customers, the average American retailer loses 15% of its customer base each year. Understanding how to juggle this revolving door of customers while still maintaining your most valuable shoppers is critical to a business’ health. 

In an ideal situation, retailers would have infinite budgets to spend on their eCommerce endeavors; but for most, budgets are limited and allocation decisions must be made. Having a user-friendly website that functions properly is a necessity, but increasingly, shoppers are using mobile devices to complete their purchases and inform their shopping trips. 

Not to mention that retail mobile apps have now become a vital channel for engaging with customers and driving long-term loyalty. To help you invest your dollars wisely, we’ll compare retail mobile apps vs. responsive websites and see which channel is more valuable. 

Retail Mobile App vs. Responsive Website: Which Should You Invest in? 

When comparing retail mobile apps vs. responsive websites, consider the following:

  • Where do retail shoppers spend most of their time? You can’t build loyalty if you aren’t connecting with shoppers where they are. The number of mobile users increased by over 10% (37% to 48%) from 2019 to 2020, and more than half of all time spent online (51%) is initiated on mobile devices. In fact, 40% of people conduct all their online searches on a smartphone or tablet exclusively. Mobile commerce sales in 2021 are projected to reach $3.56 trillion and account for 73% of all eCommerce sales. Not to mention that the average smartphone user spends nearly 4 hours per day on their mobile devices, with 90% of that time spent within apps. 
  • What engages customers and makes them more likely to convert? Mobile apps have much higher rates of engagement, with 100-300% higher conversion rates on average. Even the most efficiently mobile-optimized websites can’t compete. During the holiday season, app shoppers spent 117% more time in apps than on mobile web and made 108% more orders per person in-app than on mobile web. Apps had a 14% higher conversion rate than mobile web. Plus, app users have a 4x higher return rate than mobile web or desktop users, meaning they are more likely to return to their abandoned shopping carts, add more items, and convert to purchase.
  • What makes customers more likely to stay loyal to a retailer? More than 80% of U.S. shoppers say they are more loyal to retailers and brands when they participate in dedicated rewards programs. More than 70% of shoppers say they are more likely to participate in these loyalty programs if they can easily access their membership data from their mobile phones. Apps can seamlessly replace loyalty cards with several key features and advantages that mobile-optimized websites just cannot provide. Apps can send relevant and personalized push messages when shoppers are near a retailer’s physical location or in-store looking for special offers nearby. App icons remain on the phone’s home screen as a highly visible reminder of a retailer’s presence every time the phone is checked—about 96 times per day. Plus, apps are extremely convenient, retain user data, run with minimal loading time, and allow one-click checkout. With apps, retailers can tap into unique mobile experiences using augmented reality, visual search, image recognition, and in-store navigational tools to increase loyalty using the latest technology.

While both a retail mobile app and responsive website are important to have, it’s clear that mobile app usage is on the rise and holds the potential to offer so much more to customers and their shopping experience, thereby increasing affinity and loyalty

Maximize Your Dollars With a Third-Party Mobile Retail App

While it’s possible to create your own in-house app, it’s quite an expensive venture that will utilize valuable time and resources. Instead, you can partner with an established third-party mobile retail app for a fraction of the cost that will provide you access to its existing user base, like Shopkick

Having driven over 300 million store visits in the past decade, Shopkick is widely considered one of the best mobile reward shopping apps, attracting retailers and brands looking to elevate their loyalty programs.

Here’s how it works for shoppers: Shopkickers log into the app to see which retailers and brands are offering “kicks” (reward points) in their area. They earn kicks by performing a number of engagement-related activities, like walking through a retail partner’s doors, watching branded videos, browsing curated lookbooks, engaging with products in-aisle, scanning products’ barcodes, and submitting their purchase receipts. 

Once enough kicks are accumulated, Shopkickers can redeem these rewards for a gift card of their choosing. Many shoppers end up opting for a gift card from the retailer where they earned rewards in the first place, further cementing customer loyalty and providing an incremental revenue stream. 

If you already have a loyalty program, no problem! Shopkick can complement your existing loyalty programs, allowing you to expand your reach and strengthen loyalty among both new and existing customers. 

While any comprehensive eCommerce strategy will have both a responsive website and a retail mobile app, given mobile shopping’s rise in popularity and prominence, it would be most beneficial for retailers to invest in creating a retail mobile app—or even better—partnering with an existing one. Mobile apps give retailers the chance to connect with customers where they are, and allow them to provide supplementary benefits like a convenient rewards program and an enhanced shopping experience. 

When comparing retail mobile apps vs. responsive websites, the former is the most relevant to today’s shopping trends and will provide the best opportunity to reach shoppers. Shopkick is an established mobile rewards shopping app that has a proven track record of helping retailers achieve greater awareness, foot traffic, and consumer loyalty. Read our success stories and contact us to learn how to become one of our partners.



Shopkick is the fun and easy way to earn free gift cards for the shopping you already do. Download the app now!

Retail mobile app vs. responsive website: Which is better?



Shopkick is the fun and easy way to earn free gift cards for the shopping you already do. Download the app now!

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