Apps abound
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Apps abound

September 10, 2013

Mobile app usage is increasing at a dramatic rate. In 2012, consumers spent $12 billion on apps for a total of 46 billion apps downloaded from major stores including Apple, Google Play, Windows and blackberry. And it’s predicted that there will be 56 billion apps downloaded this year alone. So what does all this mean for retailers?

Apps and app usage have been growing at a rapid rate.  In 2012, consumers spent $12 billion on apps for a total of 46 billion apps downloaded from major stores including Apple, Google Play, Windows and blackberry. And it’s predicted that there will be 56 billion apps downloaded this year alone.  While the app user base is projected to grow by 17.7% through 2017 in the US, Latin America usage is projected grow by 31.5%, while Asia’s app download growth may increase by as much as 39.8%. So, what does all this mean for retailers?

Of those who use a smartphone to aid in shopping, 72% use their smartphones to look up facts about products or product features while 54% use their smartphones to read product reviews.  52% use their smartphones to compare prices at different stores while 44% compare prices at retailer websites.  Only 26% use their phones to read reviews on social media websites and only 17% used them to post a question about a product on a social media website, reported eMarketer. Some smartphone use depends on the specific stores that consumers are in.  For example, 41% of smartphone users use their phones to search for coupons in grocery stores and department stores compared to 39% in clothing stores, 29% in electronics stores, 9% in convenience stores, and 2% in dollar stores.  On the other hand, only 14% of smartphone users have read product reviews in grocery stores compared to 43% in in department stores, 21% in clothing stores, 7% in convenience stores, and a whopping 73% in electronics stores.

According to an article by Internet Retailer, an overwhelming 80% of smartphone owners want to see more apps which have been optimized to provide them with information about products while they’re shopping in stores.  It also seems that apps are driving consumers to make purchases: 93% of consumers who used apps while in stores made purchases the following week, compared to only 84% of consumers who didn’t use shopping apps.

However, mobile websites also have their advantages. While the top 5 reaching retail mobile apps (Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target, and Walmart) only reached 28% of mobile shoppers during the 2012 holiday season, the same companies’ mobile websites reached 51% of smartphone users during the same period.

Users spend more time on mobile apps – on average about 26 hours per month for men and 28 hours per month for women – compared to about 4 hours of mobile web usage. However, 65% of mobile shoppers prefer shopping on mobile sites over shopping apps.  Although both mobile websites and apps boost sales individually, a double-pronged marketing strategy has proven to be most successful.  So if retailers have the budget, they shouldn’t limit their opportunities by using only mobile apps or only mobile websites, rather, they should capitalize on the advantages of each.

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