Although many business websites already provide features for online, some still have not taken advantage of mobile ordering. But make no mistake: mobile ordering is going to be a big part of mobile use in the near future. The use of smartphones and tablets can only intensify in the next three years. This is a market your business can take advantage of.
Why go after mobile users
- • Mobile users are expected to outnumber desktop computer users by 2014 or close to it (depending on who’s guessing).
- • Mobile devices (tablets included) are expected to outnumber human beings around 2012 to 2016 (again depending on who’s guessing).
- • Demand for PCs is steadily declining. Intel is stopping its manufacture of motherboards. Dell, the third largest PC maker, lost one-third of its value and is said to be under ongoing talks for a private buyout. It even dropped its smartphone line but kept its windows tablets.
Why mobile ordering?
- • Twenty-five percent of American mobile users do their online shopping through mobile. That’s still a minority compared to the estimated 51 million mobile users in the U.S. with 3G broadband subscription. But this number is still growing—especially in China and India.
- • One in seven U.S. searches is done through mobile. A third of those mobile searches are for local services, which 60 percent of users either called or visited after the search. (Source: mobiThinking.)
- • Top searched products or services through mobile:
- ‣ Restaurants (29.6%)
- ‣ Automotive (16.8%)
- ‣ Consumer electronics (15.5%)
- ‣ Finance and insurance (15.4%)
- ‣ Beauty and personal (14.9%)
If your business falls into one of these categories, you should definitely consider mobile ordering functions in your website.
Mobile ordering does not spell the end of in-store shopping of course. Some things are still best bought through traditional personal shopping—cars and diamonds, for example.
Mobile ordering: apps or responsive web?
Web browsing is not going away at any time. Even if they’re on mobile, most people still prefer Web to apps, except for services that are famous and frequently used (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google Maps).
Knowing that mobile computing is going to be the majority rather than the minority, it would pay for you, in the long run, to have a responsive website. A responsive website resizes and adjusts pleasingly, depending on screen size and kind of device visitors are using to access your site.
There are ‘mobile optimized’ websites—pared-down versions of their full-blown siblings. But that’s like maintaining two websites instead of just one. Why not make your site responsive and get the same results as having a mobile optimized version?
Then, depending on your business, you might want to consider having a downloadable app for mobile ordering.
Apps: native or HTML5?
There are two technologies to choose from with mobile ordering apps: Native code or HTML5. Native code is the way programs are made for a specific operating system, like Mac OSX, iOS, Android, Windows or Linux. HTML5 is the way modern websites are built but can also be used in making an ‘app’. Philipp Kandal points out the pros and cons to consider when choosing between the two:
- • Faster than HTML5 apps. More appropriate for apps with lots of complex bells and whistles.
- • Easy access to APIs like peer-to-peer networking or in-app-purchase, although these functionalities can also be had by combining native code inside HTML5-packaged apps, creating a hybrid.
- • More expensive and slower to develop than HTML5 apps. You have to develop for at least three platforms: iOS, Android and Windows Phone. This disadvantage is slowly being offset by “do-it-yourself” app development, like that offered by SAAVI.
- • You have to wait for your app to be approved by app stores, from a few days to a few weeks.
- • Faster and cheaper to develop. There are more people who know HTML than native programming. You basically develop once and it’s available to all compatible mobile platforms.
- • You can always change the content and layout without waiting for approval from app stores. This translates to fast response.
- • You can choose how it’s packaged—either as an installable download from an app store or just put it up in your website, no installation needed.
- • Can be included in a Google, Yahoo! or Bing search. This is a great advantage, especially when you’re still promoting your business.
- • You can actually link to a page inside your app from a blog article—not possible with a native app.
- • Facebook seems to be developing an HTML-only app store.
- • Might not be supported in some older smartphone operating systems like Symbian, WebOS, and earlier versions of Windows Phone 7.
- • Slower than native apps. Complicated UI effects are best left to native apps.
If converting your site to a mobile optimized/responsive one daunts you, you’re in good company. Over 70 percent of small businesses don’t have a mobile optimized website yet.
Having mobile ordering functions on a responsive website will allow your business to take advantage of mobile users, whose ranks are increasing day-by-day. Grow your business by being one of the first to reap the rewards from this growing market.