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Web App Vs Mobile App: Which one should your business choose?

The most recent surveys confirm that there are around 6.3 billion smartphone users around the world today – close to 70% of the global population. In this context, it might seem absurd to even question whether your business should invest in mobile application development or not. 

Yes, the mobile app market is undeniably huge, but it might not always be the best solution for your business. When considering factors like industry, user segment, and budget, web applications can sometimes be a better choice.

In this article, let’s consider the various factors that need to be evaluated before a business decides to invest in either mobile app development, web app development, or even both if it comes to that.

Applications Development for Service Vs Product Businesses

Before starting the mobile app vs web app debate, businesses must first take a closer look at what they have to offer. The rules that apply to companies offering services differ from those of product-based businesses. Let’s understand how these affect their choice of application.

Applications for Service-based Businesses

Consider the unique needs of your business and your customers before choosing an app. For instance, closely examining your primary use cases, and preferred user experiences, along with minimum device functionality expectations should help you narrow down your choice. Although there’s been a long tradition of service businesses preferring web application development for decades now, there is no clear winner here.

In a world that’s getting increasingly digitized as ours is, innovations have allowed services to be consumed more personally and flexibly, opening up the doors of mobile app accessibility for many. 

Ultimately, some service-based businesses fare better on mobile apps than on web applications. For instance, it makes more sense to offer a mobile application for location-based consumer services like food delivery, ride-sharing, hotel booking, and travel assistance. Such businesses usually work on a B2C model and hence can leverage the accessibility, reach, and flexibility that mobile applications offer.

On the other hand, there’s a more traditional line of service businesses that still rely on web applications as their primary digital touchpoint. Those businesses that place security, professionalism, and trust, over accessibility are the best fit for this category. Think of professional services like legal consultation services, online education and tutoring platforms, cloud storage, or online medical consultation platforms. Whether they operate B2B or B2C, they have much better conversion and user engagement rates for their web portals. 

Applications for Product-based Businesses

Now, if we look at product-based businesses, they tend to lean towards mobile app development. Pushing products to a large market without direct customer interaction is challenging. Add short-living consumer trends and high competition, and you’re looking at highly unbeatable odds.

Here mobile apps help by offering personalization, convenience, and interactive features, all of which are important factors for increasing conversion and repeated buying.

Almost all your FMCG and everyday retail products benefit from being available through mobile apps. Other product-based businesses that must invest in mobile applications include digital media and entertainment, gaming, meal kits, and subscription boxes. 

Having said that, there are a few products that have done well on web applications as well. We’re talking about SaaS products, automotive sales, and auctions, high-value or complex products that require customization like furniture, interior fittings, etc. 

A web application makes it easier to update, maintain, and optimize these products for searchability. Additionally, web apps can handle complex functionalities and large inventories, making them ideal for a wide range of product-based businesses looking to scale and reach a broad audience.

Application Development for B2B Vs B2C Businesses

The next thing to consider when choosing between web app development and mobile app development for your business is the complexity of functions and features that it requires. To understand this, let’s consider the two broader business models, B2B and B2C. Based on the audience type, engagement strategies, and transaction types, the features can differ significantly. Here’s a detailed comparison.

B2B Functional Requirements

  • Must be easy to integrate and scale: Most B2B applications need to be integrated into other business platforms like CRMs, ERPs, accounting software, etc. Not only should the integration process be quick and easy, it must work seamlessly as well. Moreover, the application must also be able to support any increase in demand and volume, helping its clients scale without needing to switch platforms. These are essential features for a successful B2B application.
  • Must cater to industry-specific requirements: If you’re serious about building a B2B app, then custom application development is the way to go. Off-the-shelf products have a short life span as organizations will always prefer an app that understands their business requirements. Hence you’ll need an application that can be customized easily to meet specific industry standards and workflows.
  • Must offer the highest security: Data protection and privacy is of the highest importance for any business these days. Hence they will invest only in those applications that offer the best security for their data.  
  • Must be ready to offer complex functionality: From multi-level user permissions to complex workflows and reporting, most businesses demand a lot of complex functionalities from their applications. This means that your app must be able to support a wide array of complex features and deliver them seamlessly.

Considering the above requirements, web app development is generally a more suitable choice for your B2B application. Along with supporting such complex feature requirements and faster integrations, the right web app development companies can help you build these out cost-effectively. As they are easier to update and maintain, web apps will also allow you to evolve quickly in response to changing business needs.

B2C Functional Requirements

  • Must offer the best user experience: B2C apps need to deliver the best user experiences through their platforms to engage their customers for longer periods. These applications need to have an intuitive user interface that transitions seamlessly while supporting dynamic visuals and graphic files.
  • Must be easy to personalize: Being able to offer personalized content, user recommendations, and notifications based on user behavior is a big win for B2C apps. This level of detailing helps the application stand out and beat the competition.
  • Must offer seamless performance: Speed and performance are also vital for increasing app retention. B2C apps need to be fast and responsive to keep their audience engaged. This is especially true if you’re in the e-commerce and entertainment businesses.
  • Ability to access offline: Although not mandatory, many B2C businesses have seen a huge increase in app engagement and conversion by offering an ‘offline mode.’ This helps them cater to their customer needs and stay engaged with them even during low internet availability.
  • Use of device features for improved interactions: When it comes to B2C the more connected you are to your users the better. With the help of modern technology, businesses tap into device features like GPS, camera, and push notifications to offer enriched, interactive experiences.

Clearly, mobile app development is the way to go for B2C businesses. They are far more effective and the level of personalization, flexibility, and convenience they offer is unparalleled when compared to web applications. 

Investing in Both Web and Mobile Applications

Sometimes choosing one over the other might seem impossible and a business can decide to invest in both mobile and web application development to propel growth. The question is not whether that would help the business (it would definitely), but at what cost. The investment required to build and maintain both web and mobile applications is huge, and should only be considered by organizations that can justify the ROI. 

Here are some case scenarios where a business could consider this dual approach.

  • If selling your product or service requires a strong combination of both accessibility and engagement. In this case, you will need a web app to make your solution easily accessible to your larger audience, while ensuring continued customer engagement and support through your mobile app.
  • If you have pre-existing data that supports the fact that your target audience has varying preferences for app usage. If your users are more-or-less equally distributed across web and mobile platforms, then offering them both a web and mobile version makes sense.
  • And finally, if you need to offer complementary features across platforms, such as detailed analytics on a web app and on-the-go notifications on a mobile app.

The Role of PWAs in Your Digital Strategy

Building and maintaining both a web and mobile application can be very expensive and resource-intensive. Thankfully, there’s a third option for those who don’t want to lose out on the benefits of broader targeting. Progressive Web Apps (PWA).

They are the sweet spot between web and mobile apps, and bring the broad accessibility of web apps with the engaging user experience of mobile apps. They are becoming increasingly popular these days due to their cost-efficiency and ease of maintenance. They are designed to work on any platform that uses a standards-compliant browser, including both desktop and mobile devices.

Read more about Progressive Web Applications here.

Final Considerations

Choosing between a web application and a mobile application can be hard, and must be taken very seriously. The long-term implications of this decision can make or break your business. Weigh in factors like your budget, your growth strategy, your resource capacity, and user expectations carefully before taking the final call. The goal is to maximize your digital presence but without compromising on your value propositions or long-term goals. 

At Expeed, we ensure that our clients make informed decisions when it comes to app choices. We take the time to understand their business, identify their gaps and opportunities, and recommend the best technology and platform that can support their operations as they grow. To learn more about our services in web application development and mobile application development, get in touch with our team today!