As the m-commerce battle rages between advocates of apps vs mobile web sites, the esteemed surveyors at Nielsen have rendered their verdict: retail websites are more popular than retail apps.
But no matter how consumers prefer to reach their favorite online retailers, whether through applications or websites customized for mobile browsing, Nielsen confirmed that shoppers are increasingly mobile.
In a post on the company's site, Nielsen said it metered the smartphones of 5000 U.S. volunteers participating in Nielsen’s mobile research during the 2011 holiday season. According to survey results, "the top retail apps and websites combined — Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target and Walmart — reached nearly 60 percent of smartphone owners."
"The majority of smartphone owners used their devices for shopping this past holiday season,” said John Burbank, Nielsen's president of strategic initiatives. "Mobile shopping has reached scale and is only going to grow as smartphone penetration continues to rise."
Additonal findings from Nielsen included:
Both men and women prefer mobile websites over mobile apps, though men are more likely to try mobile apps from retailers by a slight margin. And consumers using mobile apps spend more time on them.
Of the top retailer sites, Target and Walmart mobile website users tend to be female, but Best Buy users tend to be male. (Amazon and eBay showed no gender bias.)
Though the top mobile retail websites saw an increase in use around Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the bump did not indicate a lift in regular use as activity returned to pre-holiday levels by January.
"Retailers need to think of their business as a multi-channel environment that can potentially include mobile, online, and bricks and mortar stores," said Burbank in the post. "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."
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