As mobile use continues to proliferate, so do app downloads: Nearly half (47%) of respondents in a recent survey said they download apps a few times every month, with 27% downloading apps multiple times per week and 14% admitting that they download an app every other day or on a daily basis, according to a study by Alligatortek.
That being said, many apps are either deleted or ignored after the initial download, which could be bad news for retailers. According to Alligatortek’s study, some of the most popular apps to download are also the most popular to ignore — as is the case with shopping apps, which ranked 4th on both the list of most-downloaded apps and of most-deleted.
The majority (54%) of respondents said they delete apps "at about the same rate that they download them," with 31% deleting apps every once in a while and just 3% deleting apps daily.
While mobile has become an increasingly popular tool for retailers — both as a marketing method and as a purchase platform (in-app payments rose 57% this year) — retailers have struggled to perfect their mobile experience.
Of 2,000 smartphone users surveyed by Alligatortek, 63% keep apps that they don’t use, 43% have deleted apps that they had to pay for and 37% have avoided downloading apps in preference of the mobile site. In the mix are both AI/Smart Home apps and shopping apps, which rank third and fourth respectively on Alligatortek’s list of least-used apps.
On the whole, these numbers are not encouraging. A retailer’s aim should be to have a mobile app that is not only widely popular but also widely used. But that may be hard to track considering that almost two-thirds of smartphone users hang on to ones that they don’t touch.
This lack of engagement might also be a sign that retailers aren’t making their apps worthwhile enough. Recent studies have shown that mobile app users care deeply about certain features, with 47% likely to delete an app that doesn’t offer customer support and 68% downloading apps just to receive discounts and offers. Alligatortek’s own findings seem to corroborate the idea that apps being deleted simply aren’t worthwhile enough to smartphone users.
The most popular reason for deleting an app was to free up space (43%), followed by users looking to reduce clutter (29%) and those who simply got bored with the app (26%). Apps that provide a more worthwhile and engaging experience might escape these pitfalls, and retailers would do well to take a page out of Sephora’s book and add features that appeal to and engage customers. This is especially true for those trying to appeal to the youth, as the study found that millennials delete apps at over three times the rate of baby boomers. And that’s not counting the majority of Gen Z who refuse to use an app that is slow to load (60%) or too difficult to navigate (62%).
Sephora’s augmented reality features, as well as its recently-launched social platform, make noticeable efforts to engage clients in a worthwhile way, while Walgreens’ app is popular with many customers because of its mobile pharmacy tools, such as "Pill Reminder" and "Refill by Scan," which add value to a user’s mobile experience.
Retailers that don’t want to see their app placed either on the back burner or in the virtual trash can would do well to reevaluate their customers' wants and needs and change their apps accordingly.