January 9, 2014, 1:56 PM

Exclusive: How consumers interact with 20 top shopping apps

2013 saw mobile shoppers increasingly relying on mobile apps, many accessing m-commerce apps at least once a week, according to almost year-long research from Mobidia, a mobile analytics firm. Apple iOS device users are more active than Android users.

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Of iPhone and Android phone users who access the e-retailing giant's Price Check mobile app at least once a month, about one-third use the app at least weekly, Mobidia finds.

52% of monthly active users of 50 top mobile commerce apps for Apple Inc. iOS mobile devices shop through the apps at least once a week, while 48% of users of the same 50 apps for mobile devices running Google Inc.’s Android shop through the apps at least weekly, finds a January through November 2013 study of the app activity of 300,000 U.S. consumers by mobile analytics vendor Mobidia.

The average weekly mobile app engagement figure for bricks-and-mortar retailers among the 50 is 43%, the average for web-only retailers 47%, and the average for social shopping companies 49%, Mobidia says. The mobile firm says that 46% of monthly active users shopping an app at least once a week is a benchmark for what it describes as good app usage. Mobidia defines active users as those who shop an app at least once a month.

Mobidia broke down the usage of both the Apple iOS and Android versions of 20 top mobile shopping apps exclusively for Internet Retailer. Following are the company, the percent of monthly active users shopping the Apple iOS app at least once a week, and the percent of monthly active users shopping the Android app at least weekly, according to Mobidia:

  • Amazon.com Inc. (main app), 48%, 51%
  • Amazon Price Check, 31%, 35%
  • Costco Wholesale Corp., 37%, 39%
  • Dealnews, 63%, 71%
  • eBay Inc., 55%, 63%
  • Fancy, 54%, 46%
  • Gilt Groupe, 50%, 53%
  • Groupon, 52%, 60%
  • H&M, 76%, 46%
  • LivingSocial, 40%, 53%
  • RedLaser (eBay), 40%, 35%
  • Retailmenot, 79%, 43%
  • Shopkick, 74%, 60%
  • ShopSavvy, 32%, 35%
  • Starbucks, 60%, 62%
  • Victoria’s Secret, 76%, 41%
  • Walgreen Co., 37%, 40%
  • Walmart.com, 37%, 43%
  • Wish, 50%, 59%
  • Zappos, 33%, 30%

The apps for Dealnews (daily deals), Shopkick (mobile rewards) and Retailmenot (coupons) all have fairly high engagement figures. That’s because mobile apps, which consumers can easily turn to on their phones every day, lend themselves to routinely searching for deals and specials, says Chris Hill, vice president of marketing at Mobidia.

“A lot of these apps are not just about daily deals, but many multiple deals every day,” Hill says. “On Steep & Cheap, an app I use too much, you get good new deals every 20 minutes. The best way to monitor those deals throughout the day is on your smartphone, which you always have with you, no matter where you are.”

Some retailers exhibit massive differences in usage between the Apple iOS and Android versions of their apps. At H&M, for example, 75% of iOS monthly active users access the app weekly while 46% of Android monthly active users access the app weekly. Hill says in his experience with hundreds of apps across various industries, such differences usually mean the more active app is simply much better than the other, and the more active app usually is the Apple iOS version.

“Retailers especially often use Apple iOS as what is called the reference platform,” Hill explains. This is because in retail, Apple iOS mobile device users are far more valuable than Android users, retailers and m-commerce vendors say. “It’s the platform they first design, build and optimize an app for, and then they port that experience over to Android. Sometimes that translates well, sometimes it does not, and you lose features. Further, while Android is a more flexible platform to build and innovate on because it is open, oftentimes that’s giving developers more rope to hang themselves with, more places where things can go wrong. The benefit of iOS is constrained options that result in a better app.”

Overall, in 2013 consumers on both major mobile platforms increasingly relied on mobile apps as part of the shopping process, Hill says.

“More users and more usage, and we only expect that to continue in 2014,” Hill says. “Also, a bit of a surprise, some bricks-and-mortar retailers are doing pretty good with their apps, they’ve figured it out, and that shows they can compete in mobile commerce with web-only retailers and social shopping companies if they are thoughtful about how they design their apps.”

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