Should your online business have a mobile app?

May 08 2020 | PayPal editorial staff

Before you dedicate the resources to developing an app for your business, there are a few factors to consider. Learn more about the potential benefits and downfalls so you can make an informed decision.
The increase in mobile commerce has made user experience a make-or-break factor for many businesses. In fact, at least one-third of all retail ecommerce sales in the U.S. last year were made on a mobile device.1

A mobile presence isn't just a bonus for small businesses anymore; it's a necessity. But does this mean your business needs a dedicated app, or will a mobile-optimized website do? 

It’s true that most people spend the majority of their online mobile time on apps. On average, mobile users in the U.S. are only on a web browser 13% of the time; the rest is on an app.2 That may make having an app seem like a no-brainer, but things aren’t always what they seem.

Does your business need an app?

When deciding whether or not your company needs an app, there are more than statistics to think about. For example, apps don’t show up in search results, so if your customers are finding you by doing a web search, an app may not make much of a difference to your sales. And remember that building and maintaining an app can be expensive and time consuming. If your business doesn’t have the bandwidth to support an app, you may want to stick with optimizing your website. Consumer research tells us it’s important to have a great user experience, whether it’s on a mobile website or an app. 
A survey by Apica Systems, a global application performance company, found that a bad digital experience can affect brand loyalty. Three in five people say they’re less loyal to a brand if they have a hard time using that company’s website or app, and 83% say they might even tell their friends about the bad experience.3 If your business relies on word-of-mouth, that could be a disaster.

When to build an app for your site.

Instead of thinking app vs. web, look at it in terms of priority: Which benefits your business more – an app or an optimized mobile site? Before you make up your mind, here are five things to consider:  
  1. Development and support. Building an app from scratch can be expensive to develop and maintain. At the very least, you’ll want your app to be available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, which requires approvals from Apple and Google. And don’t forget that you’ll still need to manage your website for new customers who haven’t downloaded your app yet.
  2. Customer experience. Would an app contribute to how customers interact with your brand? An app gives you more control over how content is presented—images, text, audio, and video. Plus, an app can let customers tap, shake, and use their camera or GPS which can be a lot more fun than scrolling through a regular website.
  3. Customer engagement. It’s hard to capture and keep peoples’ attention. If you decide to build an app, what would motivate your customers to download it? Be prepared to offer a discount or free delivery on their first in-app order.
  4. Visibility. Most people will find you online and then look for you in an app store. Since search engines rank mobile-optimized websites higher in their search results, you’ll still need to maintain your mobile-friendly site once your app launches.
  5. Access to customer data. Effective apps most often use data to help build and reward customer loyalty, giving businesses great insight into the preferences of their customers. This can be a great opportunity to connect with your customers on a more personal level, but tread carefully. Today’s consumers are wary of anything that seems too personalized, so it’s important to find the right balance.  
One payment solution for both.
Whether you choose to build an app or focus on your mobile site, PayPal can serve as your payment solution. PayPal simplifies the payment process, while helping to increase conversion rates. Businesses that offer PayPal One TouchTM at checkout see up to 53%4 higher conversion rates on mobile devices. 

PayPal is a trusted name in online transactions. According to a recent survey by comScore, 49% of mobile buyers used PayPal to make a mobile purchase in the past six months.5 And 31% of surveyed consumers who used PayPal for their last purchase said they wouldn’t have made the purchase if PayPal wasn’t available as a payment option.5 

1Source: eMarketer, “Worldwide Retail and Ecommerce Sales: eMarketer's Estimates for 2016–2021,” Corey McNair, July 18, 2017 
2Source: comScore Inc., “The Global Mobile Report,” September 12, 2017
3Source: Apica, Digital Desertion: 60% of consumers less loyal to brands after poor website and app performance, survey reveals, August 24, 2017
4Source: Checkout Conversion Index™; Utilized standard conversion rates by merchants from industry standard sources to create a statistical relationship between the conversion rates and Index Scores for 853 merchants. September 2017
5Source: Study commissioned by PayPal and conducted by comScore Research. comScore survey administered in Q1 2018 to 4,252 U.S. adults who own and use a mobile device and who have browsed or researched products or services online on any device in the past six months.

  The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial and legal advice before making any business decision.

Frequently asked questions.

  1. How secure are my transactions using the PayPal app?

We protect your mobile transactions with the same policies as transactions completed online. Merchants don’t see your financial information when you make payments. And you must be logged in for every payment made with the PayPal app.

  1. Will the app automatically log me out?

By default, your session will timeout after 15 minutes. To change this setting, select the box on the login page.

Here’s how to disable your fingerprints on your PayPal app:

  1. Tap the Menu button on your phone.
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap Accounts.
  4. Under 'My accounts', tap PayPal.
  5. Tap Login Options.
  6. Tap Disable Fingerprint Login.
  7. Tap Disable log in to your PayPal account using your mobile PIN.

If you change your mind, you can always re-add your fingerprints.

What is PayPal.Me?
PayPal.Me is a faster, easier way to get paid through PayPal. Just share your very own PayPal.Me link ( with others, and they can send you money for any reason.

They don’t have to know your email address or mobile phone number, or even have the PayPal app. They can just tap on your link, go to your PayPal.Me, type in the amount, and send the money.

How do I create my own PayPal.Me link?
Just visit PayPal.Me to create your link. If you already have a PayPal account, log in and generate your link. If you don't, sign up is fast and free.

You can also grab your link from the PayPal.Me Profile section in your account settings.

Is it free to set up?
It sure is! We don't charge a fee to open a PayPal account or set up a PayPal.Me link.

What kind of PayPal account do I need?
PayPal.Me is open to all account types, however business accounts can only accept Goods and Services payments.

Can I use PayPal.Me on my mobile device?
Sure! Your PayPal.Me link is available on mobile (iPhone and Android), desktop, and tablet.

Need more information?
How do I set up my link?
How do I get paid with PayPal.Me?
How do I send money using PayPal.Me?
How do I manage my PayPal.Me link?
How secure is PayPal.Me?

If you already have a website, use PayPal Website Payments to accept credit card and bank account payments - all through one provider. You don't need a separate merchant account and gateway. Since you eliminate separate agreements for each payment method, you save time and money.

With PayPal Website Payments, customers can shop on your website and pay on PayPal. This is a quick and easy way to start accepting credit cards online. A simple integration into your website allows your customers to pay securely and easily. Your customers don't even need a PayPal account to make a payment.

You can find more information about the products we offer and how to use them by visiting our Business page.

  1. Go to
  2. Click Business near the top of the page.
The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. The information in this article does not constitute legal, financial, IT, business or investment advice of any kind and is not a substitute for any professional advice. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, IT and legal advice before making any business decision.