Mobile is a critical part of any business strategy. The options within mobile are endless. Do I build a responsive website? Do I incorporate SMS? Do I need an app? To that last question, the answer is yes. But, not all mobile apps are created equal. Here’s a rundown on what a native app vs. a wrapper app is and why a native is the only way to go.
A true native app is built specific to the operating platform it runs on, inclusive of the key features it runs. In mobile, this is often Objective C for iOS and Java for Android. There are some apps on the market that will try and masquerade as native by pulling mobile web pages in, thus the term, wrapper app. It is easy to differentiate if you are using a wrapper app with a few quick things: is there another header? Does it take longer to load? Do you lose access when you have a bad connection? If the answer is “yes”, then it is likely you are using a wrapper app.
The key advantages of a native app is speed and reliability. It can perform certain functions offline by caching data and has access to a phone’s native hardware, from a camera for barcode scanning to a calendar for event scheduling. Because it is written for a specific platform, the overall look and feel is more intuitive for users. It can use design conventions that are natural to the platform: an iOS app might use swipe and delete on wish lists, an Android app could have an action bar for navigation. All native apps can make use of push notifications, with our clients seeing a 20% to 50% spike in conversion when a product-related push is sent.
A native app becomes even more critical when thinking about account experience and mobile payments. Native apps provide a persistent log-in process and save checkout information for convenient “one-click” conversion. They can provide digital cards and offer Card IO. Native apps also have the benefit of metrics. They can serve up user-based targeted content and provide registered users with a more personalized experience. This impact can be powerful: our clients see AOV (average order value) to be anywhere from 20% to 50% greater in native apps than in mobile web.
What’s the drawback? A native app is often seen as pricier than a wrapper app. But, a native app can offer retailers proven results that justify the upfront cost difference. Native apps see a conversion rate that is close to 3x - 5x that of mobile web, matching desktop conversion rates. Most mobile web users will abandon their cart, the primary reason being how slow and clunky checkout can be. Wrapper apps also sacrifice speed and performance, two key things that are critical to a user’s satisfaction with a native app. The bottom line is that native apps have a measurable impact worth investing in: 67% of consumers are more likely to shop from a retailer that has an app than one that does not.