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IRUK Top500 shows worrying lack of apps use, but mobile is getting there

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Just 23% of Top 500 retailers in the UK have a transactional app – with only a fifth having an app at all – despite mobile increasingly accounting for more than half of retailer e-commerce traffic.

InternetRetailing’s own UK Top500 research for 2016 shows that the UK retail industry is booming online, but its mobile metric, which focuses on apps, indicates that many retailers still aren’t embracing the full power of mobile in their multichannel strategies.

The lack of apps is surprising in light of recent studies that show that between 20 and 50% of m-commerce sales are now coming through apps.

House of Fraser tops the Mobile and Crosschannel Dimension for the quality of its app and of its cross-channel services. The retailer’s app effectively links online and the store. The inclusion of augmented reality gives it a cutting-edge advantage while YouTube videos scored it extra marks.

“By any reckoning, House of Fraser’s app is impressive for the way it links channels and offers customers a single view of the products it sells,” says InternetRetailing senior researcher Martin Shaw. “But our analysis with Poq went further and found it was a real workhorse for the sheer number of features that were delivered reliably without the bugs that plagued so many rivals.”

Zara’s ability to link store and web effectively, through its app and related digital services, as well as strong mobile web performance, helped it to second place in this Dimension. The html load time of its mobile homepage was less than 0.5s and the page contained just 12 elements.

Amazon was the third in this Dimension. Its html homepage loaded in just over a second, and was fully loaded in between three and four seconds – despite having as many as 35 page elements. Amazon’s app scored highly, with cutting edge features including fingerprint ID sign-in. As with all the top apps, it included comprehensive reviews and the ability to share products on social media.

The IRUK500 study did find that app use was on the up, with 36% of IRUK Top500 retailers now have iOS apps – up from 34% in our 2015 study. Android apps, measured for the first time, were in use by 30% of listed retailers. Just over a fifth (23%) of Top500 retailers had a transactional app, and 20% had native apps. But while the use is getting more widespread, their performance is variable.

Almost half of the apps had some sort of bug that influenced how well they performed. The effect of those bugs varied: while some froze, others crashed, showed an empty home screen or were simply unavailable in English.

Anonymised Poq analysis of retailers using its app platform aimed to uncover how far different features contributed to conversion. InternetRetailing research then matched the findings to use of those features among the Top500.

The most common feature detected was the ability to view a wishlist from the app. Poq analysis suggests apps with this feature have a conversion rate 1.8 times the platform average, browsing time that’s 3.5 times longer, and have an average order value of 0.95, where the average is 1.0. Eighty, or 16%, of the Top500 retailers had this feature, and it featured on 45% of iOS apps.

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