Mobile Apps on Retail: Trends, Constraints, Opportunities and Needs

Although widespread mobile optimization of web has reduced the importance of dedicated mobile app niches like retail apps, still they serve very special purpose as to retain customers and generating loyalty from them. Customers still feel being loved with loyalty programs, promotions and discount coupons devised by the retail apps from time to time for them.

There is severe confusion regarding the retailers who need mobile app and who do not need them. Furthermore, with the rigorously mobile optimized and responsive retail websites in place many people are considering retail app as no longer necessary as it was before. A steady decline in app download has further contributed to this negative vibe. While many developers and users feel that users are no longer interested in keeping touch with numerous retail apps on their mobile screen, there are others who feel the range of options provided by the retail apps is preferred by many users over the consolidated mobile web. While argument on both sides continues we can look into some retail app trends, limitations, opportunities and business needs.

But in spite of this there are great many retail apps that play invaluable role for their business and many of these apps are maintaining steady growth in respect of user acquisition, business conversion and retention. So, it seems while retail apps work for some businesses, for some it does not at all.

From various aspects, success stories and recent limitations pertaining to the retail apps, it can be said that the mobile apps still remain viable for many retailers. But with the emerging mobile web in place these apps need to offer some unique and valid solutions to their web counterparts.

Mobile Retail App Trends

We should only begin with the state of things corresponding to retail apps. These trends offer a clear indication that retail apps need to be more precise and customer centric. Rather than taking decreasing downloads and such trends as a threat to retail apps, one should see the opportunity lies in them. Yes, mobile retail apps offering unique customer loyalty programs are still popular maintaining steady growth. Creating unique proposition for the regular users is the key to stay viable for retail apps now. Here below some trends that will make the necessity of such unique proposition even clearer.

  • App Fatigue: In developed countries a vast majority of population is already smartphone users and at least half of them are using smartphone for more than two years. These users are already showing reluctance in downloading new apps. This new syndrome widely considered as app fatigue is has been a phenomenon in mobile markets all over the world.
  • Frenzy over a new app is over: From the worldwide trends and mobile facts it is already clear that typical frenzy in downloading new apps is over now. Typical download around Christmas or New Year or other regional festivals is declining sharply, as users now are more concentrated on a fewer practically needful apps than a gamut of new apps for variety of purposes.
  • Mobile eCommerce is growing steadily: In the past one year or so we have seen that mobile eCommerce is growing in volume though typical shopping through retail apps is declining. This is partly because with most eCommerce websites now becoming mobile optimized and responsively built for an array of devices, users are likely to have more options for their shopping activities than single window mobile apps.
  • Loyal users still prefer apps over eCommerce sites: Even while mobile retail apps are facing the threat from their counterpart mobile optimized websites, the loyal users still prefer to stick to their mobile apps because as regular user they find it handy and convenient to use native retail apps for buying anything just from their mobile screen. It has been seen that 52% of active monthly users shop through their mobile retail apps at least once in seven days. This clearly shows that retail apps typically serve loyal users and are still great avenues to promote customer loyalty.

Who need mobile retail apps?

From the above mentioned trends it is clear that while the typical frenzy over downloading mobile apps is over and in general mobile eCommerce sites are being more preferred over retail apps, mobile apps for loyal and regular users are still the best options. So while the majority of users, particularly the new users are leaning towards eCommerce websites as their mobile access points for shopping, the regular and loyal users still prefer native mobile apps. Keeping tune with this trend eCommerce brands should promote mobile apps for more sustainable business conversion, promoting customer loyalty and retention.

Typical mobile app benefits for the users

Many businesses and services are now seeing mobile apps as an avenue to create and maintain customer loyalty besides the so called broader access of web based eCommerce services. There are some stand-out app features that add to the user benefits and make mobile shopping experience better. Mobile payment, loyalty scheme, locality based push notifications, store finder, are some of the great app features that make users happier than with so called mobile eCommerce websites.

Moreover, as app analytics is becoming powerful presently retailers can address their users in a personalized way as per individual preference, user habits, user availability and location. Corresponding to all these individual level factors the app can send more contextual push notifications to market the products and make offerings to the users. Mobile retail apps taking over the device screen of the user enjoy more access to the specific device and corresponding user information than so called mobile optimized eCommerce websites.  Naturally by utilizing this pool of device specific and user specific information retail apps on mobile can deliver more contextual messages to the users and can pave the way for better engagement and business conversion.

The present focus and leaning on mobile websites does not necessarily mean that the importance and business viability of retail mobile apps has come to an end. While mobile websites will continue to flourish, native retail apps will have a niche appeal for the regular and loyal users and they will continue to be preferred by marketers to connect individual users with contextual messages and notifications.

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Written by
Juned Ghachi is the CEO of IndianAppDevelopers, a professional mobile app development company in India for full-cycle mobility solutions. Having 10+ years of experience in the digital marketing field, he excels at offering the best technical advice to clients.

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