Is A Mobile Website or Mobile App Better For Your Business?
Restaurant owners often ask us if they really need a mobile application for their business, or if they can create a mobile website and be done with it. My answer is always the same: to engage your customers in the most meaningful ways, you need to have a mobile application. The answer is really in the numbers though. Forbes discussed a study by Flurry earlier this year that found that US consumers spend 2 hours and 42 minutes each day on their smartphones. And 86% of that time is spent using some form of mobile application, versus only 14% spent in web browsers.
It makes sense too; people literally have an app for everything these days. They have a maps app for directions, social apps to stay connected with friends, an app to tell them the weather, and even an app that sends a fake call to their phone in case they need to get out of a bad date. It only seems logical that they should have an app for their favorite restaurants too.
With a mobile website you can do the obvious like list a menu and location, and perhaps even support ordering ahead and reservations, however even these features can only be added through integrating with third-party services that have their own separate branding attached to them, which makes for a poor customer experience. According to a study by Placeable, Millennials expect your website to have more than just your location, hours of operation, and phone number. They want to see your menu, reviews, promotions and photos. The question remains however, should you put the time and effort into including these new pieces on a mobile website if people are only spending 22 minutes a day in a mobile browser, or should you instead invest in a robust mobile application?
That’s where the branded mobile storefront application comes in. With a mobile app you are able to customize the look and functionality that your customers experience when they want to engage with your brand. Because apps can support QR codes, your customers can easily use digital coupons and earn loyalty points with a digital rewards card. Apps also enable you to communicate directly with your customers via in-app messaging that can send them push notifications. More than just finding your address, an app can incorporate GPS location and Bluetooth location technology to easily let customers see you on a map and receive notifications when they are close to your business’s locations. With mobile payments on their way to becoming mainstream thanks to the release of Apple Pay, customers can find your menu, place an order, pay for that order, and earn reward points all in one application.
When deciding between having a mobile website or a mobile application for your business, my advice would be this: First, decide what you really want to accomplish with your mobile presence. If you feel like you simply need to establish a place for customers to easily find your menu, location and phone number, then I would suggest going with a mobile website. But if you want to provide customers with exciting engagement opportunities like mobile loyalty programs, ordering ahead, location engagement, or mobile payments, then you should invest in making an awesome mobile application.
As seen on FastCasual.com