Are We Reaching Retail Mobile App Overload?

by Raymond Pucci 0

Retail mobile apps take up a lot of real estate on smartphones and the number continues to grow. But as the following article reports, this could be changing.

We are now spending more time than ever on our mobile phones. Recent research suggests US consumers are dedicating five hours per day to their mobiles, with the time spent in apps rising 69% year on year. Interestingly, with media and entertainment apps like Facebook and Netflix taking up the largest share, shopping apps are said to account for just 5% of users’ daily time.

While initial downloads of retails apps are actually on the rise, app abandonment and preference for mobile web remain big roadblocks. So, are consumers simply bored of retail apps? Or is the technology failing to live up to expectations? Here’s a bit of analysis on the subject. In a recent study, L2 found that 44% of luxury retail brands have removed their apps from the app store since 2015. Meanwhile, 56% of brands with an app currently in the store have not updated it in the past year.

It’s unclear whether apps being outdated is the reason that consumers are failing to download them, or whether retailers are not updating them because of this lack of interest. It’s a tricky one, but interestingly, it appears consumers might not be too fussed either way. McKinsey found that just 4% of the shoppers it surveyed had ever downloaded a luxury retail app, with many citing that they’d only be interested if it has something exclusive to offer, such as discounts or rewards, or something highly useful, like an easy-to-browse catalogue.

The fact that mobile apps don’t tend to offer anything different to mobile sites seems to be the main cause of disappointment for consumers – not just in the luxury market. In an Apadmi survey, 54% of consumers cited better incentives and loyalty schemes as something they’d like from retail apps, while 38% said rewards, and 33% said customer service.

No doubt social media sites and audio-video streaming occupy most smartphone holders’ attention, leaving less time for mobile shopping and buying. However, mobile apps that deliver convenience, immediacy, and a seamless payment can still hold their own. As on-demand services apps have proven, consumers will rely on their phones to find a ride or order a take-out meal. Meanwhile mobile order and pay adoption continues to grow as quick service restaurants take advantage of a new sales channel. So the retail app has not reached overload—it’s just the least engaging ones that are falling by the wayside.

Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group

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