Retailers shouldn't underestimate value of mobile shopping apps

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Given the ubiquity of smartphones, it's hardly a surprise that shoppers are relying on them to make informed purchasing decisions on the fly. What is surprising, however, is which apps are getting the most attention.

Canadian mobile analytics firm Mobidia reviewed data from millions of smartphone users on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year in America. The company notes (.pdf) the sample was "comprehensive of all genres of mobile shopping including retail, internet, deals and shopping aids." It found the use of mobile shopping apps 86 percent higher than on any other day in 2013.

Mobidia drilled down into their data for Internet Retailer's Bill Siwicki who reports, "The firm finds Amazon's app to be the most popular among the five studied. 4.1 percent of the 114,000 Android smartphone owners used Amazon's app on Black Friday 2013; eBay, 3.4 percent; Groupon, 1.3 percent; Shopkick, 0.2 percent; and Dealnews, 0.1 percent...But the Shopkick app was used most frequently."

What's most interesting about these numbers is that the majority of the apps studied were for online stores but the one used most often requires shoppers to physically enter a store to be of any value. Mobidia doesn't speculate on whether Shopkick was used most because it functions in much the same way as a store loyalty card. However, shoppers are incentivized to use Shopkick to earn discounts and bonuses, whereas visitors to Amazon receive nothing in return.

It's difficult to pinpoint how much value retail apps offer, but the takeaway message is that shoppers want them. On- and offline retailers alike would do well to consider aligning themselves with an established app like Groupon or creating their own mobile app--lest they get lost in the crowd.

For more:
- read Internet Retailer's article

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