App Fatigue Is Real, But Retailers Can Fight It

woman shopping

There’s practically an app for everything: banking, shopping, ridesharing, photo editing and more. Over 5 million mobile apps are available in the App Store and the Google Play Store, but according to the new report, Which Apps Will They Use? Engaging Brick-And-Mortar Shoppers Via Mobile Apps, 77.6 percent of consumers keep just five or fewer merchant apps on their mobile phones at any given time.

What does this mean for retailers?

For in-store use, consumers prefer apps to mobile sites. A majority (53 percent) use merchant apps while shopping at brick-and-mortar merchants while 45.3 percent use mobile browsers while shopping in-store. Another 15 percent use other merchants’ apps while shopping in their favorite retailers’ stores, and 6.9 percent use apps supported by third-party aggregators.

Most app users (37.2 percent) characterize their in-store usage as occasional while roughly one-third (33.6 percent) use them frequently.

Even though mobile usage is mainstream, users aren’t inclined to use the platform for mobile payments. Only 12 percent make payments using a merchant’s app and a similar number (11 percent) use mobile wallets at brick-and-mortar locations. More common is using credit cards (63.9 percent), debit cards (63.4 percent) and cash (55.7 percent).

As mentioned above, while consumers might have many apps on their devices, they are choosy about merchant-specific ones.

Just 22.4 percent of consumers have more than five merchant apps stored on their devices, but those who download more apps are more inclined to shop online. Nearly half (43.5 percent) who have three to five merchant apps most often shop online. Among those who shop mostly in physical stores, just 18.7 percent have installed more than five merchant apps.

Interestingly, consumers with more apps are the most interested in downloading more. In the study, 69.9 percent of consumers who have six or more merchant apps had either “very” or “extremely” strong interest in downloading more.

Bottom line: in order to encourage more downloads, retailers need to make apps appealing to consumers.

But what do consumers want?

They want similar features for currently used apps as they do for future downloads. Coupons or special deals are the most wanted feature for future apps (84.0 percent) as well as current apps (87.6 percent). Loyalty and rewards programs are nearly equally wanted in current and future apps.

current and future apps

Improving in-app payment features like loyalty and rewards programs and the ability to store payment card information could serve as motivation for consumers to download more merchant apps.

Logically, 46.3 percent say they would not be interested in downloading current merchant apps because they already have too many, and 37.6 percent of those say the same about future app offerings.

The biggest hindrance, though, to downloading future apps are concerns about data security (59.5 percent). Security is also a feature merchants could emphasize.

Consumers are also more amenable to downloading apps from mass merchants (83.3 percent). This high figure is roughly six times more than clothing and accessory retailer apps (13.3 percent), the second-most cited.

This is not surprising considering the specific retailers that consumers expressed interest in. Amazon, Walmart and Target represent the top three apps consumers are most interested in downloading, cited by 51.8 percent, 51.3 percent and 34 percent of them, respectively. Kohl’s (12.6 percent), Macy’s (4.4 percent) and Sam’s Club (4.1 percent) also ranked in the top 11, meaning more than half of the retailers consumers are interested in are mass merchants.

merchant apps

At first glance, this might seem prohibitive to retailers that aren’t mass merchants, but more than half (50.5 percent) also cited “other,” which leaves room for apparel, restaurant and grocery apps.

app interest

Even though mobile payments have seen low adoption rates, when consumers were asked about payment features, 85.1 percent of consumers said they would be “very” or “extremely” interested in downloading a merchant’s app if it meant they did not have to stand in line at the store. Additionally, 92.8 percent of users are intrigued by future offerings that enable quick checkout.

These findings show that mobile payments — either through an app or wallet — stand a chance of uptake if they make checkout faster and more convenient. And retailers can take a cue from consumers’ wants.



The PYMNTS Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index analyzes the key friction points experienced by consumers browsing, shopping and paying for purchases on international eCommerce sites. PYMNTS examined the checkout processes of 266 B2B and B2C eCommerce sites across 12 industries and operating from locations across Europe and the United States to provide a comprehensive overview of their checkout offerings.