...and thats that the leaders among them have already started planning for what their digital presence will look like in a post-desktop, post-responsive world. The reality is, increasingly, web sites will evolve to look and feel like native apps.
These retailers are realising that while responsive design has emerged as a great technique to make their mobile sites viewable on any device, mobile sites are no longer just competing with other mobile sites, but with apps.
Apps have shaped the preference of shoppers for experiences that are location and contextaware (different content for in-store vs. at home shoppers, for example) and intensely personal.
Forward-thinking retailers are already mapping out their post-responsive web strategy based on this understanding and adaptive web experiences that mimic the feel and functionality of apps are the new frontier.
For example, imagine visiting the site of your favourite outdoor equipment retailer and receiving product recommendations customised to the current weather (20% off winter camping equipment) or geography (hiking equipment featured on the homepage for those in the countryside) where you live. That’s the future and it’s fast approaching. We expect a full transition of the web in the next five years, as companies go mobile-first and then focus on adaptive experiences that are more app-like.
What will fuel this transition?
By the very nature of competition, everything has to catch up with leading experiences. Apps simply offer a higher engagement standard than typical web experiences do and companies like Uber and Airbnb and app technology like BBC’s iplayer are responsible for raising that standard even higher. The web will need to meet it -- sooner rather than later.
The appification of the web, particularly the mobile web, is also a reflection of the diversity of the global mobile market -- not everyone has a 4G iPhone 6 in their pocket. For retailers serving an international audience, an adaptive approach to optimising their mobile presence recognises differences in networks and device capabilities across the world.
Apps won’t replace the web in the near term, but they will come to dictate the functionality and look and feel of web sites -- sites will become more app aware and some will be designed to be accessed entirely by apps instead of browsers. In the era of wearables like the Apple Watch, this will be especially important. In a post-responsive world, eventually every retailer will have both a mobile site and an app as an expected part of doing business. The best of those will seamlessly converge to provide a continuous and consistent journey for mobile shoppers.