No matter which sector of the payments industry you’re looking at, the conversation always comes back to mobile. Mobile payments, mobile shopping, mobile websites and mobile app — it all begins with mobile.
Each of those categories brings with it debates about usage and growth about what’s driving consumers to turn to mobile for their everyday tasks. Mobile app usage is growing each year as new innovations and technologies are introduced into the market, but just how rapid is the growth? From looking at mobile app usage research from Flurry Analytics, it appears that growth skyrocketed in 2014.
Overall app usage in 2014 alone grew 76 percent, and that’s factoring in growth across nine categories: Lifestyle and shopping; utilities and productivity; social messaging; health and fitness; travel; sports; news and magazines; music, media and entertainment; and games. The largest growth category of those was lifestyle and shopping, which showed a 174 percent increase from 2013, more than double the average of the rest of the categories.
“In 2014, shopping, utilities and productivity, and messaging experienced triple-digit growth and were the key drivers. As our mobile devices become more and more a part of our everyday lives, we are increasingly using them for always-on shopping, working, and communication. Where years past have seen massive growth in games and entertainment, 2014 was the year apps got down to serious business,” the report said.
Growth in shopping app usage specifically could mean big things for the e-commerce industry as well as for mobile payments since the massive year-over-year growth shows consumers are warming up to the idea of using their mobile phone for more everyday tasks. For apps like Apple Pay or Google Wallet to take off, consumers must think of them as second nature when it comes to making a payment. That’s how leaders at Apple and Google are trying to convince consumers to think.
Social message apps also saw a significant year-over-year growth, posting a 103 percent increase in 2014. That’s particularly relevant this year, as messaging apps have become potential payment platforms through apps like SnapChat. Pay by Tweet was also introduced in 2014 and Facebook is looking to explore payment options through its messaging app.
Flurry Analytics’ data reviewed sessions, defined in the report as anytime a consumer opened an app, which varied when looking at iOS versus Android. The iOS figures that showed a 174 percent increase included both lifestyle and shopping figures, but the report was able to break down Android figures, which showed a shopping app usage increase of 220 percent from 2013.
“Every app store category has again seen session growth in 2014. While 2013 was the year messaging apps took off, 2014 was the year retail came to mobile in a big way,” Furry Analytics reported.
The report also was able to break down shopping app users by time of day to gain a better understanding of when and where consumers are tuning in to browse or shop. The data was broken down by engagement with shopping apps by zip code to determine whether users were at home or out while on the app. What the data showed is that there was a spike on the shopping apps during the commuter travel time at 9 a.m. and then again at noon. The app usage then dips off and picks back up again most at 8 p.m. when users return home.
“These new behavior patterns present great opportunities and challenges for retailers,” the report said. “Retailers need to adjust to the new reality of a multitude of stores in every consumer’s pocket, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The growth in e-commerce has already forced retailers to shift direction toward redesigning websites and launching mobile apps. Now, however, it’s about increasing in-app usage, Flurry Analytics said. Now, instead of being web-first, commerce companies must turn that attention toward being mobile-first if they want to keep up with consumer behavior.