Shoppers download millions of apps on Black Friday, many of them for store-based retailers.

U.S. consumers downloaded more than 2.7 million shopping apps on Black Friday between Apple Inc.’s App store and Google Play app store, according to app measurement firm App Annie.

This makes Black Friday, which is the day after Thanksgiving, the No. 2 day in 2017 for U.S. consumers to download shopping apps, after the Chinese shopping holiday Singles’ Day, which is celebrated annually on Nov. 11. AliExpress, the global shopping site operated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.,  accounted for 50% of the downloads on that day and advertised heavily before the date, says Lexi Sydow, market insights manager at App Annie.

The retailers and retail-focused sites with the most-downloaded apps on Black Friday in the U.S., between iOS and Google Play app stores, were:

  1. Amazon
  2. Walmart
  3. Wish (an online marketplace)
  4. Flipp (a deals and couponing app)
  5. Target

Mobile commerce vendor Urban Airship Inc. has also seen spikes in retailer app downloads during the holiday season, especially among retailers with a store presence, an Urban Airship spokesman says.

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“Similar to last year, new app installs for brick-and-mortar retailers peaked on Black Friday at nearly double the typical daily rate seen in October 2017, demonstrating their strength in offering omnichannel experiences, loyalty programs and in-store promotions that encourage new app downloads during the holidays,” he says.

One of the perks offered by apps is retailers’ ability to send alerts to shoppers’ smartphone home screens.

Throughout the Cyber 5 weekend, which is the period of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, retailers took advantage of this mobile marketing tool, Urban Airship finds based on an analysis of 100 of its retailer client’s apps.

Each app has at least 10,000 monthly active opt-in users and sent at least 10,000 push notifications in October 2017. The vendor analyzed both iOS and Android apps, and 60% of the apps were for e-commerce retailers with physical stores and 40% were online-only merchants.

In the 30 days leading up to Thanksgiving and through Cyber Monday, retailers sent 27% more push notifications than they did during the same period last year, and shoppers engaged with the push notifications 17% more compared with 2016, Urban Airship finds. Urban Airship measures “engagement rate” as consumers who open the app within 12 hours of receiving a push notification, which is an alert sent to a shopper’s smartphone home screen.

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“Mobile shoppers have learned that mobile notifications uniquely bring the best holiday deals to their attention in time to take action, whether they are online, at home or in store,” says an Urban Airship spokesman. For example, brick-and-mortar retailers grew Thanksgiving Day notification engagement rates by 50% year over year.

On most days between Halloween and Cyber Monday, multichannel retailers sent significantly more push notifications than web-only merchants, the vendor finds. Many of those notifications were encouraging shoppers to turn on app push notifications to stay informed of deals, the spokesman says.

While store-based retailers send more notifications, online-only retailers have a 29% higher average notification engagement rate in the 30 days leading up to the Cyber 5 period compared with store-based retailers. For example, on Nov. 20, the Monday before Thanksgiving, more than 20% of consumers who received a push notification from an online-only retailer opened the app, while less than 10% of consumers did for a store-based retailer on this day.

The contents of those messages prompt recipients to open them, says an Urban Airship spokesman. “It’s the customer experience that’s differentiated, as online-only retailers nailed the online experience early and now brick-and-mortar retailers are bringing their physical assets and broader reach into the flow of digital customer engagement,” he says. “In lieu of having in-person customer interactions, online-only stores have worked to mirror this with a personalized engagement strategy focused on providing the consumer in-the-moment value. Brick-and-mortar retailers are beginning to catch up.”

In fact, store-based retailers have improved their overall average notification engagement rate by 38% year over year, according to Urban Airship. Plus, store-based retailers had higher notification engagement rates on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Urban Airship finds.

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“This ‘day of’ engagement growth is especially significant considering massive spikes in send volumes on those days and growing receptivity toward engaging with notifications while actively shopping,” the spokesman says.

 

In terms of sales over the weekend, neither Urban Airship, comScore nor Adobe break out how much of theses mobile sales are from apps compared to the percentage from the mobile web. However, in general, several large retailers with apps find that consumers spend more time in their apps than on their mobile website.

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