September 24th 2015
The State of Mobile Apps for Retailers

RetailMeNot recently commissioned a study from Forrester Consulting to evaluate the state of mobile apps for retailers.

Here are a few important stats that RetailMeNot and Forrester Consulting shared on a recent webinar recapping their study’s findings:

  • Shoppers using a mobile device during their shopping journey have a 40% higher conversion rate.
  • 73% of consumers start their shopping journey on a smartphone.
  • 70% of digital coupon users will redeem a coupon or code on a mobile device.

Top 3 places where consumers start their shopping journey on their smartphones:

  2. Google
  3. ebay

While consumers use their smartphones to shop anywhere and everywhere – from the bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom to their office, public transportation, and car – a surprising find is that 84% of consumers use their smartphones to shop while inside a store.

In this context, consumers primarily rely on their smartphone while in-store shopping to:

  • Find a coupon or coupon code – 55%
  • Redeem a coupon or coupon code – 55%
  • Compare prices with other websites/stores – 51%
  • Read customer/product reviews – 47%

The takeaway here is that mobile shouldn’t be seen as being in competition with in-store retail. Instead, it should be viewed as complementary to the in-store shopping experience.

Retailers who embrace mobile as a companion to in-store offer their customers a better shopping experience.

Mobile has definitely shifted the customer’s expectations. Today, shoppers expect:

Immediacy – They want to know which items are on sale now; shipping notifications; access to product/pricing/inventory, etc.

Simplicity – Consumers embrace push notifications IF they trust that retailer will thoughtfully and carefully anticipate what they need as a consumer in a non-creepy way. They also want to curate content and task-oriented design flow.

Context – Details about sales that are nearby, etc.


Essentially, consumers want and expect convenience delivered in the form of immediacy, simplicity, and context. But having an app isn’t enough, especially since consumers are getting super selective about the number of apps they download. What’s more, is that retail apps are infrequently used.

In fact, a key discovery in Forrester’s findings is that while today’s consumers overwhelmingly prefer to access the Internet on their mobile devices, only 30% use retailer applications to actually purchase products. And even then, less than half are using apps weekly.

So what can you do? According to Forrester’s study, one thing that’s essential to do is develop a strategy that will allow you to take advantage of “mobile moments.”


Mobile Moments

Mobile moments are present throughout the shopper’s journey, and include:

  • Social depth and social sharing moments where you can engage with consumers.
  • Branding moments when consumers are just discovering your brand, products and service.
  • Self-service and loyalty moments when consumers ask questions about your company, products or services.

Two Mobile Moments that are especially important are: Conquest Sales and Impulse Purchase Moments and Guided Selling Moments.

Conquest Sales (use your location) and Impulse Sales are mobile moments when the customer is exploring. They include:

Impulse Sales Moments drive incremental revenue. An example provided by Forrester Consulting during RetailMeNot’s webinar is this WTSO promo:

"Provenance Merlot 2009 Napa Valley for 16.99 50% off! Free shipping on 4 bottles. Visit"

According to the study, Influence Sales in mobile moments provides the biggest opportunity, with $689 billion in sales forecasted for 2017.

Guided Selling Moments are ones that initiate the consumer to buy. They include:

  • B2C in stores and at branches
  • B2C for high consideration sales at home / at the sales location
  • B2B

Consumers do use mobile websites for shopping, but the majority choose apps in most of their mobile moments.

Therefore, it’s essential to support your customers through both your mobile website and through apps.


Mobile Moments come in 3 forms: Owned, Manufactured, and Borrowed.

  • Owned – customer already has a relationship with the brand.
  • Manufactured – brand creates an opportunity for engagement.
  • Borrowed – brand infiltrates (borrows) the moment of another brand.

Most companies solely rely on “Owned” mobile moments. However, focusing on that one type of mobile moment won’t get you far enough. Ideally, you need to use all three – especially because Owned and Manufactured are scarce for retailers.

Therefore, another recommendation is to have a mobile strategy that goes beyond having your own app by borrowing mobile moments from ecosystem partners. This is because industry partners can offer platforms where consumers have consolidated their time.

Partners can also help you access data that will help you make mobile moments more relevant for your consumers.


Key Takeaways from RetailMeNot’s State of Mobile Apps for Retailers webinar:

  • Adopt a customer’s mobile-shifted mindset.
  • Extend mobile strategy beyond the app and website – how you’ll buy or acquire moments in marketplaces.
  • Choose partners that can drive new customer acquisition and incremental sales.
  • Enable two-way data sharing with partners – data is the foundation of discovering your customers’ needs.

To keep up with more mobile partnership trends, check out our webinar, Unlocking Mobile Partnerships.


Lenox Powell is Associate Director, Global Content Strategy at Acceleration Partners.

Author: Lenox Powell