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    Mobile Apps versus Mobile Websites—Which is More Worthwhile in the Building Product Market?

    Smartphone users want more out of their searches.

    In a previous post I mentioned a few statistics of mobile shopping and the relentless reliance on our smartphones and devices.

    As smartphone owners, we are increasingly using our devices as retail outlets. From researching products and reviews, to comparing prices, finding retail locations and redeeming coupons, we are constantly deferring to our phones for immediate inquiries.

    How many times have your potential customers walked into a building products store and searched for an apron-donned assistant to answer a question about a specific product? I, for one, am guilty of that. Imagine having an app where your customers can simply scan a QR code into their smartphone and instantly appears your webpage with all the information about that particular product, where it comes from and how to order. A perfect opportunity to upsell and cross-sell, and all of sudden your customer is leaving with a cart full instead of a basket full of your products!

    Your website provides vital information on products, warranties and special offers. Having that information accessible online and in-hand is crucial to the comparison shopper.

    Mobile shopping has reached scale and is only going to grow as smartphone penetration continues to rise. Neilsen’s metering of 5,000 US volunteers participating in Nielsen’s mobile research shows that during the 2011 holiday season, the top retail apps and websites combined—Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target and Walmart—reached nearly 60 percent of smartphone owners.

    Smartphone owners of both genders prefer mobile websites over mobile apps when it comes to retail, with men slightly more likely to try retailers’ mobile apps than women. Research has shown that consumers who use retailer mobile apps tend to spend more time on them. Home Depot’s mobile website, for example, is efficiently organized to guide the user directly to the specific product they are needing. Target’s mobile site will even tell you the aisle in the store where the product appears! That’s the kind of tool consumers love.

    As building product marketers, you (hopefully) already have an information-packed website; do you really need an app to repeat what is already provided on your website? The answer is no. Mobilizing your website to make it easy for consumers to navigate is what you really need to get ahead of the curve.

    “Retailers need to think of their business as a multi-channel environment that can potentially include mobile, online and brick and mortar stores,” says John Burbank, President of Strategic Initiatives at Nielsen. “Winning with shoppers requires a consistent experience across channels that reinforces the value you represent as a retail brand, whether it be price, service, selection, style or other key attributes.”

    Our industry consists of dealers, retailers, manufacturers and lumberyards; nowhere does it say we have to have a mobile app to thrive within. What is important, however, is that we stay abreast of the mobile trends and adapt as necessary. As I stated in my previous post, we have to be aware that the world we’ve lived in has changed and we need to ensure our companies and brands are ready.

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    About The Author

    Elton Mayfield

    Elton's career spans media, production, digital and building industry expertise. His diverse experience makes him nimble, innovative, and curious – always pushing the envelope to create extraordinary work that delivers real results for our clients.

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