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EDITORIAL How lockdown has seen apps come into their own – with a twist

The lockdown has pushed more consumers to shop online – of that there is no doubt, it is keeping many retailers afloat, according to this study – but part of the ecommerce play is a growing use of mobile, particularly apps.

Data from AppsFlyer’s The State of Shopping App Marketing, 2020 Edition report, finds that across Europe in lockdown there has been a 35% rise in ecommerce app installs – that’s 12% higher than 2019 Q4 holiday season activity, which was seen as something of an app watershed in itself at the time.

The study goes on to find that, in the UK, overall shopping app usage spiked to a reported 7.6% in May 2020 and increased to 8% in June 2020, overall surpassing the 7.1% of shopping app usage in November 2019.

The picture is similar in Europe, with overall shopping app usage spiked to 7% in May 2020 versus only reaching 6.7% at its peak in November 2019.

Demand for ecommerce apps also surged in EMEA during COVID-19 lockdowns, with the UK seeing a 156% surge in iOS non-organic installs between February 2020 and May 2020; while Android grew by 142%. EMEA saw a 56% jump in non-organic installs during the pandemic, between February and May 2020.

There has also been a similar uptick in spending on apps, with consumer spend overall hitting 13% in May 2020, compared to 11.5% in November 2019.

The big winners have been in fashion, where consumer spend reached 14% in May 2020 compared to 10.3% in November 2019. General retail saw spend hit 12.5% in May 2020 compared to 12.3% in November 2019.

This is backed up by a separate study by App Annie ahead of London Fashion Week – which kicks off on Friday, virtually – which sees fast fashion brands such as JD Sports, ASOS, M&S, Nike,, H&M and Very all in the top ten for app shopping.

Where it gets really interesting, however, is in the other apps that shoppers are increasingly using. The App Annie research finds that Sheinis, Vinted and Depop are the top three fashion apps for users – showing that there is a growing move away from fast fashion brands and into more marketplace-like outlets and a growing taste for ‘pre-loved’ and second-hand items.

While the move to apps is an interesting evolution of the shift to ecommerce, it isn’t necessarily surprising. The twist lies in the rise of these more specialists marketplace apps that specialise in the things that Gen Z and Gen X shoppers increasingly want.

A while back we reported on how younger shoppers were being driven increasingly by sustainability issues around how and where they shopped and what they bought. This anecdotal evidence is now starting to garner some real-world numbers.

For retailers looking to get through the next few months it points to a stark lesson that needs to be learned: there has to be a joined up retail approach that combines stores, online and mobile – as the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) finds.

Moreover, there also has to be a shift towards apps and a rethink in how to sell on third-party sites like marketplaces – especially those that focus on things like sustainability – to tap into what shoppers want.

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