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Understanding Retail’s Highly Competitive Landscape

Lexi Sydow

Mobile is at the epicenter of retail. Understanding your place in the retail app landscape can help inform your competitive and growth strategies.

The retail industry has undergone massive transformations in 2016, with mobile at the crux. 2016 saw the first $1 billion mobile shopping day ever in the US — occurring on Black Friday rather than Cyber Monday, as many might expect. Mobile has even taken over of the most foot-traffic-heavy day of the year for retailers.

As retailers start formulating their 2017 holiday shopping campaigns, they would be remiss not to focus a significant amount of that energy on mobile. Time spent in Shopping apps in the US grew to new heights in Q1 2017, experiencing 20% year-over-year growth on Android phones. We reviewed the top 200 retail-related apps in the US by combined iOS and Google Play downloads in 2016 to give app marketers and business decision-makers a comprehensive view of the landscape.

The Competitive Landscape for Mobile Retail Apps

From our mobile retail landscape, one thing is clear: Apps are at the epicenter of the customer experience. Virtually all phases of the shopping experience are touched by mobile, whether a user can directly transact in the app, research the price of goods, access coupons or sell their own items.

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Using This Data to Plan Your Strategy

If you have a retail app or simply want to tap into this rapidly expanding market, how can you use this information?

  1. Identify partnerships: If you are a general merchandise retail store looking to expand your mobile user base, partnering with a couponing app could meaningfully increase your active users and cultivate stickiness in your app.
  2. Analyze competitors and potential threats: As a traditional food retailer with a brick-and-mortar presence, understanding what digital-first food retail apps are gaining a stronghold with consumers can inform you of potential threats and latent market demand.   
  3. Establish fast movers and market disruptors: Four of the top 10 apps by iOS and Google Play downloads were peer-to-peer, which highlights a key trend that is changing the shape of mobile retail in 2017.
  4. Assess features: Looking closely at peer apps in your category, you can see which features are novel and which are table stakes, which can, in turn, inform your product roadmap.
  5. Understand the status of the industry incumbents: Bricks-and-clicks apps make up the largest number of apps in the top 200 at 63, equating to roughly one-third of all apps. But does this equate with high usage?

Our retail landscape is based on the top downloaded apps in 2016, indicating a level of popularity in the market. However, downloads are only one part of the picture. Pairing downloads with high monthly active users, time spent or sessions data can give you a more comprehensive picture of your app’s stickiness with users and how you truly stack up against your competitors.

The retail landscape is more diverse than ever and apps are at the epicenter of retail growth. Without an app strategy, retailers could face choppy waters in 2017.

April 24, 2017

Market Data
Mobile App Strategy

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