Customer Behavior on eCommerce Apps


eCommerce apps were once an awkward limb on the tree of digital retail, but now that limb has grown to support a whole new branch of eCommerce sales. Since a branded app promises the most potential for a unique and dynamic experience, retail businesses get excited about the prospect of creating a branded micro-environment on their customers’ mobile phones.

On the other hand, mobile app users are notoriously fickle. Low adoption rates could mean wasted resources that would have been betterspent on improving an optimized mobile site. To help brands calculate their approach to branded mobile app development and aim for success, here are some insights into customer behavior on eCommerce apps:

Retail Apps Are Seeing the Biggest Gains

Overall app usage grew tremendously in 2014, up 76 percent compared to the year before. The most-used apps in order of segment growth included shopping/retail apps, productivity/utility apps and messaging apps. “Lifestyle & Shopping” focused retail apps alone grew 174 percent year-over-year on all phone platforms. When looking at just Android devices, that category grew a staggering 220 percent.

The year’s successes were marked by the release of a few notable retail apps, including Curbside, Strut, Paytm, Downtown, Shop-Hers and Threadless. Major retailers are also cementing their mobile presence through their highly usable and browsable mobile apps. Target noticed that mobile customers spent 68 percent of their time in Target’s app rather than their mobile website. This number flips the paradigm of 2013, when only 21 percent of Target customers were using the app as opposed to the mobile site. One U.K. study noted that several retailers generated 10 percent of their online revenue through mobile apps alone.

Mobile Traffic Comes in Waves

Paying attention to peak times has helped brands structure their new product releases and offer rollouts to coincide with the instances of highest activity. A report by Flurry charted mobile activity throughout the day. Peak times included:

  • 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. during the morning commute
  • 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. during lunch hour
  • 8 p.m. – 9 p.m. referred to as “prime time” by TV networks because it occupies a sweet spot between dinner and bed; the perfect time for relaxing

The previously-mentioned U.K. study found that the highest amount of mobile device users were browsing on Sundays, although conversion rates dwindled during this period. This type of mobile “window shopping” offers a period of daydreaming before the work week starts. By contrast, the highest actual conversion rates were on Fridays and Saturdays for iOS and Android users, respectively. These days marked 1.2 times higher conversions than the weekly average.

Mobile Apps Offer New Opportunities

Aside from “enclosed” branded environments, mobile apps offer all sorts of added functionality compared to websites. Loyalty programs such as Starbucks “My Rewards” create the opportunity for brands to foster deep-seated affinity with customers and track their progress from “newbie” to veteran brand advocates.

Other uses include major retailers that are rolling out in-store beacons that can send special, personalized push notification offers through branded apps while simultaneously tracking customer foot traffic data.

Even small businesses are exploring branded mobile apps as a means to meet their customers’ demands, such as the vintage video game retailer Retro Age. While the tiny brand only has two stores located exclusively in the southeast, they have developed a mobile app so their customers can estimate used game trade-in values and store retail currency from trades for later use.

Mobile coupons are another function that operates more efficiently through mobile apps. KISSmetrics reports that 75 percent of mobile shoppers have used a mobile coupon, and 80.4 percent of shoppers stated that their perception of a retailer would improve if they were offered a mobile deals or coupons.

Take advantage of the branded app market to capture this growing customer base. Platforms like Thrive Commerce can make managing and distributing digital coupons simple, so that mobile customers have more reasons than ever to download your app and engage with your brand. Visit our product page to discover more about the exciting opportunities mobile coupon distribution can offer.

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