During the last quarter of 2019, nearly 53% of online traffic was driven by mobile devices. That means brands’ mobile experiences have to be in tip-top shape. One way to do that is with an excellent mobile app, especially as shopping apps continue to increase in popularity.  Tens of thousands of shopping apps are added to Apple and Google’s app stores each year, and very few make it to the Top Charts. Given how difficult it is to stand out, an excellent mobile app is even more important.

However, “an excellent mobile app” can mean many different things. Let’s take a look at Amazon and eBay. The two online marketplaces prove that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for mobile apps.

eBay’s Powerhouse App

eBay’s app is, in many ways, more advanced than Amazon’s. That’s partly because there’s more that eBay needs to accomplish within its app. Like Amazon, eBay wants to support those who are buying on its marketplace. eBay also simplifies selling, allowing users to manage their listings without being in front of a computer.

Because auctions are time-sensitive, there’s more of a need for an eBay app than there is for an Amazon app. The eBay app allows sellers to set bid prices, change those prices, list items, take photos of items for sale and upload them directly into their listings. Just as eBay uses its massive stores of data to personalize messages onsite and in email, the app offers a high level of personalization.

eBay has also improved that personalization over time. Last year, eBay stepped up its mobile experience with a richly personalized mobile app, including an in-app messenger. eBay also appears to have broken out from category-only based recommendations to mixed category-based recommendations to promote discovery across its vast inventory.

Amazon: Betting on Alexa

To understand the power of Amazon’s app, look no further than Prime Day. Geographies with better mobile access and more app downloads showed superior results on Amazon’s self-declared shopping day. Additionally, Amazon has the most popular shopping app in the iOS App Store.

Still, Amazon’s app isn’t terribly creative and for a very good reason: Alexa. While we didn’t study Alexa in-depth for the research that led to the Personalization Index, there’s no doubt that Alexa is a game-changer for Amazon. Alexa can already manage smart devices in your home, in addition to, of course, helping you shop, including in-app.

And Alexa doesn’t help you shop the way most retail mobile apps do. Alexa is becoming more of a personal shopper than a mainstream shopping app. In most shopping apps, including Amazon’s, a search for “batteries” brings up every battery that retailer sells. That is not how Alexa works. When Alexa is asked to find batteries, it will only find Amazon-brand batteries. It will only help you buy Amazon-brand batteries. We expect Amazon to launch a standalone Alexa app in the near future.