What Does It Mean When Shopping Apps Are Amongst the Most Frequently Deleted Apps?

Alligatortek about a survey they did on mobile app usage:

Some people—specifically, millennials—are taking action. Millennials delete apps at over three times the rate of baby boomers. Fitness apps, productivity apps, artificial-intelligence apps, and shopping apps are some of the most deleted.

It is notable that shopping apps rate highly on both lists: the most downloaded and the most deleted.

(Highlight by me)

RetailDive on the survey results:

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 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.


According to our respondents, the most popular reason for deleting an app is simple: They need the space on their phones. The second-most popular reason for app deletion is similar—to reduce clutter—and the third-most popular reason is arguably the most intuitive: People delete their apps because they’re bored with them.

So, what to make of this?

​More and more online retailers report they make more than half of all of their sales on mobile. (In fact, I can‘t think of one major online retailer right now which doesn‘t makes at least half of their sales on mobile. They still exist, but they are in the minority.)

​​But, interestingly, a lot, if not even most, online retailers report an even higher percentage of mobile traffic. As the saying in the industry goes, a lot of people like to browse products on mobile but prefer to purchase at the laptop.
​​I don‘t buy that, frankly.
​​Browsing for a product on your mobile phone and then going to another device to make the purchase is a pain in the behind. For starters, you have to think of a way to find that product again. You can search it again on the desktop website at the laptop (which most probably do), you can add it to your wish list at the online retailer or you can already add it to your shopping cart.
​​And why? To see bigger pictures of the products you‘re about to buy? Is that really worth all the hassle?
​​No, in most cases, it is not. One use case that makes sense for switching to a bigger screen (with a browser with tabs etc.) is to easier compare products within one retailer and across multiple retailers. “Market research”, so to speak.
​​​​​​How about this: What if every online retailer which has a higher mobile traffic percentage than they do have a mobile sales percentage is constantly losing conversions on mobile?

​​So, about shopping apps getting deleted regularly again. People are not attached to online retailers‘ apps. Hence, those go first when one needs more space to shoot more photos and videos. Makes sense. It also makes sense that people regularly re-download those apps. Space constraints are usually temporary. (Hopefully, space is only sparse until you‘re re-connected to you favorite cloud over wi-fi again.)

As it happens, some people, with some regularity, re-download apps they’ve deleted. In fact, 31 percent of our respondents say that, a few times a month, they re-download previously deleted apps.

​The pressing question for online retailers thus becomes what options they have to make their apps more ‚sticky‘.

​Because while users may re-download your app after a little while if and when they want to buy something again, you want to be on the device all the time. Then, and only then, a user may choose to browse in your app while waiting bored in line at, say, the cinema, instead of opening Facebook or Snapchat in that situation. And only then you can send your users push notifications to lure them back to the app.

Bug in Fleek

Still, let‘s point this out explicitly: Shopping is, more or less, an every day act. Shopping on a smartphone today is almost effortless. It fits into the smallest time frames, like communication over Facebook or Whatsapp. And it doesn‘t matter wether we talk about re-buying everyday items or wanting to be inspired and surprised. It all fits onto the tiny phone screen. You just have to find out how.

Everything you can sell, you can sell online. And everything you can sell online, you can sell on mobile.

Smartphones are not only the ultimate personal computing devices and thus communication devices. They‘re also the ultimate shopping devices. It is telling then that people still are relatively fast with deleting their shopping apps.

The bottom line is this: Broadly speaking, shopping apps aren‘t good enough yet.

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