- Shopping app engagement surged 40% in March from a year earlier as the coronavirus pandemic led consumers to use their mobile devices to shop while stuck at home during lockdowns. The engagement rate for shopping apps reached almost 15%, compared with 11% in the prior year, per a study that app marketing firms Liftoff and Adjust shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Retailers saw greater efficiencies in their app marketing as lockdowns took effect. The cost to acquire a shopper who completed a first purchase — a key indicator of app adoption — plunged by 51% to $19.47 in March from a year earlier. App install costs hit a yearly low of $2.48 that month, per the study.
- While North America was strong for retailer apps, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) regions showed signs of "shopping fatigue." The cost to convert for shopping apps doubled to as much as $54.90 in March from a year earlier, while purchase rates fell to less than half of what they were previously, per Liftoff and Adjust.
The coronavirus pandemic triggered a significant shift in shopping habits as homebound consumers boosted their consumption of electronic media and used their smartphones more often. Liftoff and Adjust's study covers a period that included the beginning of the pandemic, and the key issue now is how long the shift in shopping habits will last as lockdowns ease and more people resume their former pre-crisis activities. More recent data are needed to evaluate those effects.
Looking back to the early days of the pandemic, consumer dependence on shopping apps was seen in metrics such as the install-to-register rate that edged up to about 33% in March from 30% a year earlier. The study found that users were primed to purchase from shopping apps, completing a registration within 16 minutes of downloading a shopping app. They spent almost nine hours before making a purchase, which is shorter than the install-to-action time for gaming and utilities apps, per the study.
Looking ahead, the cost-per-install rate for shopping apps is likely to rise from July to September, if last year is any indication. Shopping app install costs rose to $3.26 in September from $2.88 in July last year, before declining through the remainder of the year. The data suggest that shopping apps are more likely to see greater efficiencies in their marketing as mobile users are more ready to shop in the back-to-school and holiday seasons.