Retailers Get Ready For More Mobile Commerce Innovation

Retailers Prep For Mobile Commerce Innovation

Retailers need to work harder to get more consumers to download mobile commerce apps, one of the main areas of focus for retail going into the 2020s.

As new PYMNTS research shows, most consumers do not like having too many mobile apps on their mobile devices. More specifically, 77.6 percent of consumers have installed five or fewer merchant apps on their phones.

That said, the research also found that consumers “who make half or most of their purchases online tend to have more apps installed than respondents who make most or all of their purchases in physical stores.” Even more on point, “42.6 percent of respondents who shop mostly online and 44.5 percent of those who make half of their purchases online were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ interested in downloading merchants’ apps, compared to 30.3 percent of respondents who make most of their purchases in physical stores.”

No Lack of Choice

It’s not about the lack of choice. In all, some five million apps – retail and other types – are available for download. Part of the reason for that apparent paucity of useful retail apps is that consumers don’t seem to find much to do with them besides shopping. And as most PYMNTS readers probably know, it’s not only the shopping that matters – the payments and overall consumer experience serve to build loyalty among shoppers.

But things are changing, thanks in large part to one very popular U.S.-based coffee chain. “Starbucks changed the game when they decided to do all of it themselves,” Chris Ostoich, co-founder at LISNR, said in a recent PYMNTS interview.

Not only that, but the success of the Starbucks mobile program – which stands as an example for all types of retailers – demonstrates on a daily basis how app value and experience can bring more consumers into a particular retailer’s mobile ecosystem, he said. In fact, the PYMNTS/LISNR research found that nearly 46 percent of mobile app users would be interested in downloading frequently-visited merchants’ offerings and using them to make payments if that would allow them to bypass checkout lines at brick-and-mortar locations. In comparison, just 36 percent say they would be interested in downloading these merchant apps as they are.

The main idea behind all that data and consumer desire? Consumers just don’t like friction-filled checkout experiences, and anything that can make transactions more seamless will win over mobile consumers.

Back to mobile apps, the lesson boils down to this, according to Ostoich: “In many ways, payments are the gateway to other things, and can tie those experiences together.”

So what does the future hold for mobile retail apps, some two to five years out?

“You’ll see more apps rather than less,” he said. “You’ll store them on folders with all your favorite retailers you shop with, until someone figures out how to run one protocol on top of all those retail apps.”

Rise of Super Apps

So-called “super apps” might also play a role. Indeed, that was one of the main messages from a new PYMNTS discussion between Karen Webster and Anabel Perez, co-founder and CEO of NovoPayment. “From a financial services perspective, we haven’t seen a super app originate from a pure financial services provider and move to eCommerce,” Perez told Webster.

What is a “super app,” you might ask?

Simply put, it’s a mobile app designed to improve and ease payment and retail flows for consumers. Super apps create differentiated financial ecosystems in the back end (and front end), incorporating capabilities like an aggregation of multiple service providers, digital account origination, embedded KYC abilities and real-time payments (to name a few).

As Webster recently noted in a column about PYMNTS research into the subject, it can take consumers four different apps and four different interactions across their existing apps – and many minutes – to close the loop on that single flow.

Get ready for more mobile innovation in the retail world in the coming decade.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.