Marketers can no longer rely on flashy apps to attract the interest of mobile consumers, according to a new survey from Siteworx. Results of the “2013 State of Mobile Features and Functionality Report” indicate that mobile shoppers prefer websites to apps and desire ease of use and speed, among other findings.

Smartphone Users Like Sites

The Siteworx survey indicates smartphone users have a definite preference for mobile websites as opposed to downloading mobile apps when it comes to shopping. Sixty-six percent of respondents who own a smartphone said they would rather shop via mobile site, a two-to-one differential compared to the 34 percent who would rather download a mobile shopping app. 

Smartphone and Tablet Users Prefer Product Reviews 

Respondents who made a purchase via smartphone or tablet in the last year were most likely to cite product reviews (33 percent) as the most important driver of their purchase. Other top drivers included price comparisons (25 percent), product descriptions (19 percent) and product images (17 percent).

Despite all the attention m-commerce is getting, consumers still prefer the good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar store for holiday purchases. Almost half (48 percent) of respondents made 2012 holiday purchases at a physical retail store, while 44 percent used a desktop or laptop PC. Only 4 percent made holiday purchases via laptop and three percent used a smartphone. 

Smartphone Users Kick Tires, Tablet Users Make Purchases

Tablet users make much better customers than smartphone users, according to survey results. Nineteen percent of tablet owners made a 2012 holiday purchase with their device, compared to 13 percent of smartphone owners. Meanwhile, smartphone owners had much higher rates of finding store hours, locations and directions. Tablet owners were also more likely to compare prices and the two groups had very similar rates of reading product reviews, with slightly more smartphone owners engaging in this activity.

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Users of both tablets and smartphones cite ease of finding products above all other features that help make mobile shopping more convenient. Smartphone users then prioritize ease of checkout process, access to user ratings/reviews, access to billing data and ability to share products with friends. Tablet users are slightly more likely to cite access to user ratings/reviews than ease of checkout but otherwise prioritize shopping features in the same order.

Five Tips 

Based on survey findings, Siteworx offers five key tips to mobile marketers:

  1. Mobile websites or responsive websites that can offer an optimized mobile experience are now essential -- an app is not enough.
  2. Shopping and purchasing processes must be simplified and also optimized to the mobile experience. Recreating the online shopping experience will not satisfy modern mobile consumers.
  3. Provide robust mobile security and inform shoppers of security measures through text and/or graphical information.
  4. Create new features and functions that take advantage of specific mobile capabilities.
  5. Cultivate product reviews and make them prominently accessible.

The Siteworx 2013 State of Mobile Features and Functionality Report was conducted through Google Customer Surveys and received more than 5,500 responses, with responses weighted by US Census Current Population Survey to compensate for sample differences.