Mobile commerce sales have tripled since 2012.

That s 30 percent of all ecommerce sales, and it s expected to rise to 43 percent of all ecommerce sales by 2019 — which means a brave new world for retailers.Companies need to figure out how best to meet the needs of customers who want the ease of buying goods and services on their phones — and that means deciding whether to throw your spend behind optimizing your mobile website or investing budget in creating a branded mobile app.As far back as 2010, Wired declared apps the answer and the web dead, pointing to the rise of service-based applications for social platforms, and entertainment brands like Pandora and Netflix stealing market share.In 2014, The Wall Street Journal took up the chant, declaring that the web was finally, really, actually just about dead now.

Companies were urged to leap into the walled-garden model of customer interaction, because the mobile web was slow, too vast for attention-challenged consumers, and going to be obsolete any second now.The argument was that not only are apps faster and easier for users, but they keep customers loyal to your brand.

Shopping app usage continues to grow more than any other app category — by 81 percent last year, in fact.However, this early view of apps as a panacea for mobile engagement evolved as the mobile market ecosystem matured.Recent research shows that apps aren t hogging the spotlight quite as much as their evangelists would have liked you to believe.

When you dig deeper into stats about app usage on phones, it turns out that 8 out of every 10 minutes a user spends in apps on their mobile device is dedicated to their three favorite apps.

Mobile web is actually driving two times the site traffic of apps, and only 20 to 30 percent of a retailer s mobile sales come from their app.The upshot is that both mobile web and apps have their place in the mobile ecosystem, each with their pros and cons.Once you ve got an app on a customer s phone, you ve got the home screen advantage.

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