Why every retailer needs a shopping app

Gina Acosta
Executive Editor
Gina Acosta profile picture
In North America, retailers with a shopping app now generate 67% of all e-commerce sales on mobile devices.

Retailers that have both mobile sites and apps are seeing, on average, two-thirds of their online sales coming via app.

The research is from a new Criteo report analyzing shoppers' activities, behaviors and preferences across all devices and browsing environments. The report highlights a growing reliance on apps among shoppers.

"As smartphone usage continues to soar, increased app adoption and mobile browsing have resulted in interesting omnichannel shopping patterns," said Jonathan Opdyke, Chief Strategy Officer, Criteo. "Our latest report illustrates the power of shopping apps to drive significantly higher conversion rates and sales on mobile devices, and also confirms that omnichannel customers provide the highest lifetime value. Retailers and brands can take advantage of these trends to optimize their marketing efforts, allowing them to more effectively connect with shoppers to yield the strongest commerce results possible."

Globally, advertisers saw nearly a 50% year-over-year increase of in-app transactions, climbing to 46% in the fourth quarter of 2017. In North America, retailers with a shopping app now generate 67% of all e-commerce sales on mobile devices. In-app also accounts for 66% of mobile transactions for retailers who generate sales on both mobile web and in-app.
The conversion rate for shopping apps was 21%, more than three times higher than the standard 6% conversion rate seen on mobile web.

Mobile web usage has reached a maturity point, but shoppers rarely stay in one place for long, moving in and out of walled gardens, and are still buying on-the-go, with varying levels of frequency, on all connected devices.  

Smartphone transactions in the US increased by 13.2% over the fourth quarter of 2016 (App excluded). Tablet usage declined, with 26.5%  fewer transactions compared to the year prior. Desktop usage continues to dominate during work hours, but saw a minor slip year-over-year with a 1.1% transaction decline.

Retail categories with the highest share of mobile sales include sporting goods at (44%), fashion/luxury (40%), and health/beauty (38%).

Seasonality drove a slight dip in the number of desktop transactions preceded by a mobile click, as consumers are more active on mobile devices in the summer. In the fourth quarter, 26% of all US desktop transactions were preceded by a mobile device click, down 4 percent from the previous quarter.

Omnichannel customers offer the highest lifetime value to brands and retailers, generating 27% of all sales, despite representing only 7% of all customers.

Consumers continue to trade desktop for mobile, and back again, depending on the time and day they are shopping online.

Retailers looking to target the busy working customer cannot ignore the dominance of desktop during business hours, especially between 9 a.m. - noon. Alternatively, optimizing for smartphone and tablet targeting remains critical in the evenings and throughout the weekend.

Combining intent also unlocks the ability to capture more dollars per shopper, as average order values are significantly higher—up to 17% on average—for matched shoppers. This trend is especially apparent in the fashion/luxury, health/beauty and high-tech categories.

The Global Commerce Review analyzed individual browsing and purchasing data from over 5,000 retailers, in more than 80 countries during Q4 2017.