Industry News

How are the Top 100 Retailers Scaling for Mobile?

by Adam Foroughi on Aug 6, 2014

You used to be the new kid on the block. Now you’re part of the old guard, scrambling to keep up. That’s the situation many big retailers face today, as mobile changes the way people shop. Not only can shoppers now buy from their homes, but from any location they want. A recent Forrester report forecasts that 29% of digital commerce will be driven through mobile by year’s end (as compared to just 14% in 2013).

So how are America’s top 100 retailers (as determined by the National Retail Federation) responding to the emergence of mobile shopping? We took a closer look.

First, not everyone is coming around to mobile yet — 21% of retailers don’t even have mobile apps. Furthermore, just because a retailer has an app doesn’t mean consumers can shop from it. Of the 79% of retailers that do have apps, only half of them support direct, in-app shopping.

As expected, online retailers and ISPs all have strong app experiences, but so do traditional department stores — 75% allow for in-app commerce. However, supermarkets are lagging far behind. Out of the 24 of the top supermarkets that have apps, only 1 allows for in-app purchasing. This could make supermarkets prime for a disruption from startups like InstaCart and Blue Apron, that have built a business around the in-app purchase to home delivery model.

Even though there are some standout retailers on mobile, their app ratings still show a huge need for improvement. Only 27% of retailers with apps were rated 3.5 and higher, and only a third of retailers with apps had pushed updates in the last month.

If it sounds like we are being rough on those who need to up their mobile game, the proof is in the numbers. Retailers that have embraced mobile are already reaping the benefits. $9.3 billion was the median 2013 sales for companies with apps, and $5.6 billion was the median 2013 retail sales for companies without apps. If retailers aren’t investing in mobile and taking it seriously, they are losing big bucks, and that loss is only going to continue to grow as mobile continues to explode.

Here are some tips for how legacy brands can reinvent themselves on mobile

Legacy retail outlets may have some differences–they could focus on different customers and different products to sell. But the following tips are universal to any brand trying to establish themselves in mCommerce.

  1. Invest in a strong mobile experience. Make versions for both iOS and Android. Regularly update your apps, it has to be an ongoing investment, not just a checked box. Integrate user feedback and make continual improvements.
  2. Make payment easy. Particularly, the checkout process should be easy. Apple’s payment strategy is taking shape and consumers are already leveraging Google Wallet.Whether you work with a payments partner or create a seamless flow, make sure it’s easy for the customer to check out.
  3. Create a mobile specific communications plan. Use regular communications like push notifications, ads and emails to acquire and re-engage customers.
  4. Deep-link to your app. Deep-link offers directly to your products or other content. This will this provide a better user experience, it also provides you with greater analytic capabilities to follow the whole life cycle of a transaction.

Stay relevant or get left behind? The good news is that it’s not too late, and it’s completely in your control. Seize the mobile opportunity, and watch the difference it makes in your business.


Adam Foroughi is AppLovin’s CEO.