Nearly 50% of Users Return to Retail Apps After their First Month

Earlier this year we found that “shopping via apps” was the primary reason nearly 50% of people use their smartphones, while shopping app usage grew by 54% last year and Forrester estimates that 24% of total online sales will be from a mobile device by 2021. It’s easy to see that mobile platforms are an opportunity worth seizing for retailers in 2018 if they haven’t already done so.

We uncovered some findings that confirm retail’s potential in our mobile retail benchmark data for the first half of this year. These benchmarks include stats around app usage and retention, as well as the average performance of push notifications and in-app messaging campaigns. We found that retention and push/in-app campaign performance are progressing rapidly. At the same time, usage metrics have remained mostly flat.

Retention continues its astronomic rise

Retention is defined as the percent of users who return to an app one month, two months, and three months after the app is downloaded.

Retail retention has been on a steady incline since 2015, but that changed in H1 of this year when one month, two month, and three month retention leapt from 39%, 27%, and 21% to 47%, 37%, and 32% respectively. That’s an 11 percentage point or 54% increase in three-month retention for retail apps since H1 2017, which is great news for retail app marketers.

2017 H1 2017 H2 2018 H1 % Change (yoy)

Retention – Month +139%41%47%+20%
Retention – Month +227%30%37%+38%
Retention – Month +321%25%32%+54%

Maintaining good retention continues to be one of app marketers’ biggest challenges. However, these benchmarks indicate that retail app marketers have made significant progress in the past year. Retention may become less of a problem in the future as long as retailers keep up the good work, which starts with creating an engaging in-app experience that offers users value from the start.

Usage metrics have remained steady since 2017 H1

App usage in the Retail/eCommerce vertical has not seen drastic changes. The average retail app user in the first half of 2018 spent 31 minutes and 12 seconds in an app, launching it 9.5 times, and spending an average of 3 minutes and 17 seconds per session. Comparing these numbers year over year reveals a mostly flat, but slightly downward trend.

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Average monthly time in app has decreased 13% year over year since the first half of 2017 (from 35:42 to 31:12), while app launches have decreased by the same degree (10.9 to 9.5) and session lengths have remained the same (3 minutes, 17 seconds). The decreases might indicate that users have become better at navigating their apps, finding what they need without having to repeatedly launch. As retention increases so should familiarity, so increases in retention might spell slightly lower app usage. It’s also worth noting that a 13% decrease in time in app is hardly comparable to a 54% increase in retention.

Usage metrics indicate app growth, but retention is perhaps the best measure of an app’s overall impact. You can boost retention in your app by engaging end-users and leading them to value.

Retail push and in-app performance has seen improvement across the board

Retention is not the only metric that retail app marketers should be proud of – especially when it comes to in-app messaging. Open rates for in-apps on Android have increased by 51% and conversion rates have increased by 58%. iOS is seeing somewhat similar results: open rates have jumped by 42%, while conversion rates have dropped slightly (by 17%). Meanwhile, iOS push open rates have made a 139% jump since the first half of 2017. On the other hand, push opt-in rates for both platforms continue to decrease. As a reminder for app marketers: handle push opt-in requests carefully and use some tried and true methods. You’ll have users saying “Yes” in no time!

Check out the full benchmark report for the first half of 2018 here:

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