Consumers will delete retailers’ apps if value isn’t quickly communicated

Most consumers only used an app once or twice before deciding to delete it.
Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader
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What this means: Consumers are always looking to retailers to make their lives easier or better. Mobile apps and digital channels help retailers drive on-the-go and seamless conversions while offering consumers greater personalization. As retailers continue to invest in digital channels, ensuring apps align with the brand and create consumer efficiencies is paramount.

Consumers turn to mobile apps for convenience and efficiency. Overall, the top three reasons global respondents used apps from their favorite brands were “ease of use” (35%), followed by “simplifies my life” (31%) and “saves me time” (27%), according to a new survey from Airship. While the economic climate is challenging, and deals, rewards and targeted offers grew the most as opt-in motivators, consumers continue to use apps for higher-level benefits: ease, speed and simplicity.

“The opportunity for retailers to create and optimize valuable mobile app experiences for their customers can’t be overstated,” Corey Gault, Airship’s vice president of Communications, told Retail Leader Pro. “Shoppers are eager to use retail apps more than ever with 78% of consumers using them more or about the same as last year, up an additional 2% since Airship’s last global survey.”

Value spans digital to physical customer experiences. “Using the retailer’s app” while shopping in physical stores grew the most year-over-year across 10 smartphone behaviors, including long-held consumer behaviors of “comparing prices” and “using loyalty cards/coupons,” according to Airship’s survey.

“Mobile apps are a preferred destination because there is a highly respected and rewarded exchange of value between customers and retail brands,” Gault said. “Shoppers benefit by being able to easily share their preferences and affinities for more personalized, convenient service —  getting what they want and need easily, wherever they are.”

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App discovery

Searching and browsing mobile app stores continues to be the top way people discover new apps. This holds true across household income levels, generations and the majority of countries, according to Airship. Search engines are the second-most common app discovery method, followed by word of mouth (WOM). Personal recommendations are a key driver of app downloads in the U.K., France and Canada, where consumers turn to WOM as much or more than the app stores. In the U.S., Germany and Singapore, WOM is the second most common method of finding apps.

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“Mobile apps have become a primary destination for consumers due to simple, contextual interactions, faster transactions and streamlined experiences that elegantly span their digital and physical worlds,” Gault said. “In fact, customers with a brand’s app generate more revenue and have a higher likelihood of repeat purchases. Apps provide retailers with unique and compelling opportunities to personalize both offers and experiences that keep customers coming back.” 

Additionally apps are an essential source of ongoing first- and zero-party data for retailers, as data privacy regulations and tech platforms make old ways of better understanding customers obsolete, Gault added.

App experience

When asked why they deleted apps, “freeing up phone storage” (32%) and “too many in-app ads” (30%) rose to the top. “Never used” (26%) was the third-most common reason consumers deleted apps globally. “Never used” was the most common reason for app removal in Canada, France and Germany, and it ranked second in the U.S., U.K. and Singapore. In turn, brands and retailers must quickly and clearly convey the value of the app to customers, according  to Airship. Additionally, improving the mobile app onboarding experience is crucial to fostering app usage and optimizing retention. Establishing connections with customers outside of the app, such as through email or SMS, can help drive them back to the app as well, Airship said.

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First and second impressions are everything for new app customers. Most consumers (57%) only used an app once or twice before deciding whether to delete it. Furthermore, 73% of consumers decide whether they’ll delete an app within the first two weeks of downloading it, a behavior consistent across all countries, household income levels and generations, according to Airship.

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To overcome the customer drop off in the activation phase, brands should clearly explain “what’s in it for me,” ask questions to personalize the experience and focus the customer’s attention toward app features that will add value in the first moments of opening it, Gault said.

“Brands need to quickly and clearly articulate the value the app can provide to users to keep them coming back,” he explained. “The onboarding experience is an opportunity to encourage app use and retain users, which is especially important given that most consumers only use an app once or twice before they decide if they’ll delete it.”

What’s next: As consumers continue to use mobile devices for all elements of their lives, apps and social commerce will continue to grow in usage instead of browser-based retail transactions.