Commentary

Mobile Apps & Getting the Shopper's Attention

Retailers have had the toughest time getting shoppers to use their apps for commerce.

We know from numerous studies that the large majority of consumers prefer to shop in physical stores.

Meanwhile, for online purchasing, mobile continues to grow, now reaching around 30% of all online sales.

But when it comes to buying via smartphone, most consumers gravitate to websites, mimicking the familiar practice of desktop online shopping.

This is not the case in all countries.

In Asia, for example, a quarter (25%) of mobile app time is spent in games, according to Flurry Analytics. And shopping and lifestyle on mobile has a respectable showing, with 19% of time spent in apps.

And in India, online fashion retailer Myntra as well as Flipkart, which acquired Myntra a year ago, both closed down their mobile websites to go mobile-app only.

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But don’t expect any major U.S. retailers to make such an app-only statement, since they would lose a large percentage of their mobile shoppers.

Retailers face an even more daunting challenge, based on another recent study.

In terms of share of minutes spent on apps by U.S. consumers, shopping is not at the top of the list, according to Forrester’s recent “Customers Will Not Download Your App” study. Here’s where minutes are spent on apps by category:

  • 14% -- Social networking
  • 9% -- TV/video
  • 7% -- Communication
  • 6% -- Games
  • 6% -- Maps, navigation
  • 6% -- Music
  • 5% -- Shopping
  • 5% -- Device utilities
  • 4% -- Email
  • 3% -- Weather, news, sports
  • 3% -- Business, productivity

So in addition to retailers having to persuade shoppers to use their apps rather than mobile websites, they have to compete with what else consumers are doing on apps outside of shopping.

While a lot of effort is focused on mobile advertising in hopes of reaching consumers with the right message, the amount of time spent on shopping apps highlights just how small that window is.

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