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A basic guide to Mobile Commerce for Magento merchants

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Mobile site vs Mobile app

Difference Between a Mobile site and Mobile App? 

Mobile sites are typically simplified versions of standard websites with browser-based HTML pages on the various display sizes of phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Mobile sites designed for mobile devices need to load quickly, use limited bandwidth, and cater to touch screens.

Mobile apps are software applications that work on a specific mobile device's operating system Android, iOS or Window and is downloaded to the device from the app store. The mobile app may pull content and data from the Internet and the downloaded data can then be available offline.

Mobile Sites (Ex: Magento mobile site)

Advantages

  • Flexibility and the ease of making changes: mobile sites allow business owners to update products and latest news constantly and easily.
  • Immediately accessible: mobile sites have the convenience of accessing for one-time visitors without having to wait for app downloads and installs from the app store.
  • Cost and Time: due to its flexible nature and little-to-none restrictions, mobile sites are often less financially demanding and there are more rooms to maneuver in when it comes to updating and upgrading.

Disadvantages

  • Availability Offline: mobile sites work only when the Internet connection is available while native apps can run locally.
  • Native Functionality: Graphics or effects may be disabled for devices with low specs and/or low bandwidth.
  • Optimization: Difficulty of optimizing across all screen sizes and devices. There are so many different devices on the market that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

Mobile Apps (Ex: Magento mobile apps)

Advantages

  • Visual: mobile apps have the capabilities to have superior and complex features such as high definition visuals, animations, and interactions with quick loading time.
  • Native Functionality: Mobile apps make use of all the phone’s features like taps, rotation, GPS, camera, click-to-call function.
  • Visibility: Mobile apps keep brand logo right on customer's home screens, which can be attributed as one of the main ways to drive user’s interactions. 
  • Marketing Features: mobile apps can be used as a marketing and lead generation tool to showcase products and services, better communication and engagement with customers, offer users interesting offers and discounts through notification. Push notifications are messages and alerts that show up to users who have installed your app and is a great way of notifying people of special deals and new products.
  • User loyalty: to retain users, mobile apps use customer’s data to better its service and tailor the apps to its user’s needs. 
  • Availability Offline: Internet Connection is not always required to run a mobile app.

Disadvantages

  • Flexibility: Mobile apps are limited to phone platforms, all application updates on the app store system are to be undergone the review process, thus greatly reduce its flexibility.
  • Accessible: Mobile apps require users to first download and install apps from an app marketplace before reaching or experiencing the apps.
  • Cost and time: Development of a mobile app is comparatively a more complex, expensive and time-consuming process compared to its mobile site counterpart.

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Related Terms
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