Mobile App Shopping Is DOA -- We'd Rather Chat And Post

It was supposed to be simple. People download your store's app, click on it next time they need some "stuff" and everything's there pre-filled in for them to order at the touch of a button, just like Amazon. Trouble is, it's not what's happening.

There is no app-based mcommerce retail revolution for digital marketers to tap into. Or if there is, it's a tiny one consisting of just 2% of all mobile app usage in the UK, the latest figures from Verto Analytics suggest. I don't know about you, but I'd be inclined to say that 2% of mobile app time spent on retail will be almost entirely devoted to Amazon and eBay, with just a little left over for a household name or two from the high street.

People are always surprised when you chat about marketing and correct their assumption that we're all app mad and the guys on Google or Apple's app stores are raking it in and brands with an app are unleashing cash cows. The truth is far more mundane and, if you're a digital marketer in retail, far less exciting.

The reality is that we all have a tonne of apps on our phones, but we rarely use more than a handful regularly. For the treasured few, it's happy days. For the vast bulk, it's a case of living off the bread line. To quantify what we all intuitively know, we have the aforementioned research from Verto Analytics, published this morning. The average smartphone has 90 apps installed yet, only eight get used daily. What's more, only 5% to 10% of those who download an app are still using it a month later.

As you would imagine, the communication and social niche is the most successful in apps. Nearly half of all mobile time -- 44% -- is spent on apps in this category. Entertainment is second, with a fifth of our app minutes.

Those two are fairly predictable, but if you were asked to name the sector that has seen the biggest drop in the past year, you probably wouldn't name gaming. However, in just the last six months it has dropped from 18% of the time we spend on apps to just 13% -- by far the biggest drop. That said, it's still the third-biggest category of apps, behind communication and entertainment. 

As mentioned, alarmingly, for mobile marketers just 2% of our app time is spent shopping. As such, it attracts exactly the same proportion of attention as news and weather. The bigger of the two surprises for me here are that people don't spend more time checking the headlines and chance of rain. I know I do.

Just 2% of time spent in apps on mcommerce is less of a surprise, to be honest. Just think. When was the last time you ordered through an app? Far easier to avoid trying to find the app and just click on Safari and just get the thing ordered through the mobile Web, right? And a Safari search gives us choice. An app just takes us back to the same retailer. 

So there you have it. There is no mcommerce app revolution going on. Brits are just as interested in the rain, and we're even gaming less as we go all-in on messaging one another and posting social updates while we are entertained, presumably by BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Netflix.

With the surprise of gaming being on the wane, the smartphone is being used for exactly what we intuitively know it's used for -- social, messaging and entertainment with just a little less "just one last go" on the latest game. 

It is not being used en masse for shopping. So move along -- no mcommerce app-based revolution to see here.

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