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Popularity of shared-economy apps belies mixed UX reviews: report

Mobile application users are quick to judge the quality of a brand based on their initial search and sign-up for a mobile application, suggesting why Uber leads all sharing-economy apps in popularity despite receiving mixed user-experience marks, according to an Applause report.

The 48 most popular sharing-economy apps in the United States on average lag all other apps in quality, according to Applause’s report, “The Best Sharing Economy Apps.”  With just eight sharing-economy apps such as Waze earning respectable quality scores, the findings suggest that while customer-obsessed brands built the economic model in which individuals are able to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else, that trend has not necessarily translated to app quality.

“Intense demands for software to win, serve and retain customers are driving marketers to realize the critical role that digital serves in transforming the customer experience,” said Ben Gray, senior ARC researcher and the report’s author. “Customer experiences shouldn’t happen in a vacuum.

“They are influenced by what your company does, what your competitors do and what is happening in the apps economy,” he said. “These software investments contribute to app quality improvements, but there’s still much work ahead for nearly every sharing economy brand.”

Quality scores
The report rated the quality of apps, based on analysis of user sentiment of all Apple and Google app store reviews. The analysis resulted in quality scores for each app, as defined by customers, on a scale of 0 to 100. 

In another important finding, customers feel sharing economy brands fall short on privacy, which is a concern for marketers considering that the sharing economy is built on trust, according to the report.


Rent the Runway’s app.

Uber’s score of 67 for its iOS app was about equal to the average of all apps. Uber’s Android score of 51 left much to be desired, according to the report.

“Every brand – even those valued at $50 billion – has room to improve its app quality through the eyes of its customers,” Mr. Gray said. “The ARC report highlighted a disparity between the quality of Uber’s iOS and Android apps, which is commonly a byproduct of the fragmented Android landscape.

“But in Uber’s case, it also may have highlighted how its customers could have loftier expectations, either because of Uber’s immense popularity or because of experiences with its competitors, Lyft and Sidecar,” he said.

Without having personally spoken with the Uber team, Mr. Gray said he suspected that Uber has already grown tired of the shared economy designation and prefers to think of itself as a technology company – like Netflix.

“But they’re so synonymous with the industry that other brands describe themselves as the Uber for [any] product or service,” he said. “That alone – in addition to their valuation and admiration of customers around the world – speaks to the amazing things they’re getting right.”

The eight sharing economy apps that earned quality scores of 70 or above with more than 1,000 user reviews were Rent the Runway, Waze, Twice, Hailo, Instacart, Udacity, thredUP and Fiverr.

Brands such as Waze and Rent the Runway have earned high UX marks because their apps are easy, useful, simple, intuitive, accessible, and speak to how they have mastered understanding the needs of their customers. The brands deliver an app that’s optimized for their customers’ mobile moments.

Their scores also suggest they have hired great mobile UX designers.

Six brands received more than 1,000 reviews and were rated by their customers with average app quality scores less than 50, including Kickstarter and Etsy.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is predicting the on-demand market, which boasts more than 9,000 startups, will generate revenue of $335 million by 2025.

Its growth is due to how mobile has opened new ways for consumers to interact with commerce.

Consumers are more willing now more than ever to share products and goods, and mobile devices are enabling this culture shift. Mobile makes it possible to split a bill with friends in a restaurant or even to select a stranger’s apartment to rent for a night.

Sharing goods
Nowadays, consumers are comfortable sharing goods, mostly in an effort to save money. Some simply do not feel the need to own their own goods when they can share with others.

Waze app.

“The sharing economy is like the apps economy as a whole,” Mr. Gray said. “As it continues to grow, knowing where your brand stands from the customer’s point of view is more important than ever.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York