Shoppers spent more time and money in retail apps in 2018, according to recent findings from mobile analytics firm App Annie and app technology vendor Button. 70% of app shoppers during Cyber Week who made a purchase had not previously made a purchase with that retailer before, and 33% of those customers shopped again with that retailer during the holiday season.

U.S. consumers spend 60% more time in shopping apps in 2018 compared with 2016, according to data released in app analytics firm App Annie’s report “The State of Mobile 2019.”

The firm attributes the growth to more consumers shopping on mobile devices and opening apps more frequently. For example, sessions, or when when a shopper opens an app, increased 70% to more than 60 billion sessions in U.S. retail apps in 2018 compared with 2016, according to App Annie. As shoppers spend more time in shopping apps, overall ecommerce sales increase at a nearly proportional rate, according to the firm, meaning that time spent in mobile shopping apps correlates highly with overall e-commerce sales, a spokeswoman says.

For digital-first retail apps, on average U.S. consumers opened a retail app 22 times per month in 2018, which is a 10% increase over 2016, and 15 sessions per person per month for a brick-and-mortar retail app, which is a 35% increase over 2016, according to the report. Digital-first retailers are merchants that only sell online or launched as web-only brands.

Ranked by time spent in app in 2018, here is how Android’s digital-first retail apps stacked up:

  1. Amazon
  2. Amazon (outdated version)
  3. Wish
  4. ASOS
  5. AliExpress

Amazon is listed twice because many shoppers still use an outdated version of Amazon’s shopping app, that has since been removed from Google Play, but shoppers still have it downloaded and use it.

“This shows that app habits—once they are formed—can be hard to break, even if a newer, likely more efficient and updated app is available from even the same brand,” says an App Annie spokeswoman. “The fact that Amazon also has two of the top five digital-first apps by time spent on Android phone in the U.S. is also very telling. Even their app that has long since been removed from the app store for new downloads has stronger engagement than any other company’s retail app.”

Store-based retailers’ Android apps ranked by time spent in 2018:

  1. Walmart
  2. Target
  3. Kohl’s
  4. Kroger
  5. Home Depot

For peer-to-peer marketplace Android apps:

  1. eBay
  2. letgo
  3. OfferUp
  4. Poshmark
  5. Mercari

Amazon also ranked No. 3 in the list of most monthly active users for all apps across iPhone and Android in 2018. No other retailers made the top 10.

Globally, in the 50 most-downloaded shopping-related apps of 2018, web-only retailers’ apps were the most downloaded. Within the top 50:

  • 69% were digital-first retailers
  • 24% were peer-to-peer marketplaces
  • 5% were store-based merchants
  • 3% were coupons and third-party loyalty app

The percentages add up to 101% because of rounding.

Zeroing in on the holiday season, app technology vendor Button also reported an increase in app spend and usage. Button’s holiday analysis is based on 200 retailer apps and millions of transactions of retail and affiliate apps in its marketplace between Nov. 1, 2018 and Jan. 6.


The average consumer during the holiday season made 2.7 orders in retail apps, according to Button.

Consumers spent 121% more in affiliate apps during the holiday season compared with the rest of the year. Plus, affiliate apps had a 106% increase in the number of orders during the holiday season, and a 108% increase in app installs compared with the rest of 2018.

Cyber Week, which Button defines as the Monday before Cyber Monday through Cyber Monday, was a crucial period when merchants acquired new customers. 70% of app shoppers during Cyber Week who made a purchase had not previously made a purchase with that retailer before, and 33% of those customers shopped again with that retailer during the holiday season, according to Button.

Compared with mobile web, app shoppers spent 117% more in apps during the holiday season than on mobile web and made 108% more orders per person in app than on mobile web, according to Button. Plus, apps had a 14% higher conversion rate than mobile web.

advertisement Inc. is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500, Walmart Inc. is No. 3, The Home Depot Inc. is No. 7, Target Corp. is No. 17, Kohl’s Corp. is No. 18, The Kroger Co. is No. 86, and ASOS Plc Holdings is No. 133. EBay Inc. is No. 5, AliExpress is No. 7 and Wish is No. 9 in the  Internet Retailer Online Marketplaces 2019 database.