The use of shopping apps is on the increase, with retail sales through mobile devices forecast to almost double to $280 billion worldwide in 2015. As the e-commerce industry develops further through mobile devices, and consumers are offered a more autonomous shopping experience, mobile apps have become another way for them to control their path to purchase. Due to the popularity of shopping apps throughout the US, more retailers are turning their focus to expanding and improving their digital presence through this channel.

RealityMine have analysed both USA TouchPoints eDiary data of 845 panelists and passive mobile metering data of 3,848 panelists, in order to understand the use of shopping apps within consumers across a range of age groups.

Our analysis includes retail apps, as well as other shopping apps, such as coupon, auction and loyalty reward.

How different generations use shopping apps

Surprisingly, the mobile native Millennial generation, who love using apps generally, are not leading the trend in shopping app usage. Our passively collected mobile data shows that Gen X and Baby Boomers are actually slightly more eager shopping app users than Millennials.

While 53% of Gen Xers and 50% of Baby Boomers use shopping apps, the usage within Millennials is 49%. As figure 1 presents, women in every generation use shopping apps more and the biggest gender difference can be found within Millennials, where 52% of women and only 36% of men use these apps.

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But Millennials like some shopping apps

Ad Age recently discussed the popularity of Walmart among American Millennials, which has surprised many people, including those inside the company itself.

Infact, our passive data shows that the Walmart app is the most popular shopping app within all age groups, including Millennials. Nearly as many Millennials as Gen Xers are using the app, with 35% of Millennial and 37% of Gen Xer shopping app users accessing it.

The Top 10 shopping apps

Figure 2 shows the ten most popular shopping apps used by all generations. Interestingly, Walmart is among a handful of retailers, and the only retailer with a physical presence, to make it to the list. Most of the top 10 shopping apps are reward or coupon based apps.

top ten shopping apps














The context of Shopping app use

Looking at our TouchPoints eDiary data, we discovered the location and context in which shopping apps and websites are used.

Based on the eDiary data, 66% of our panelists use shopping apps at home and 28% while travelling. Many people also use shopping apps and sites when they are inside a store. Nearly 40% of the app or mobile site users were shopping in-store when using the apps or mobile sites. 47% of Gen Xers actively use them in-store, compared to Millennials (32%) and Baby Boomers (39%).

24% of those using a mobile in-store were shopping online while using the app or website, which is likely to mean that they used the app or site to make a purchase.

Shopping apps and websites are widely used when consumers are alone, but also when they are in the presence of family members. Millennials and Gen Xers, in particular, were likely to be with their children (37%) and partner or spouse (39%). Baby Boomers were likely to be in the company of their partner or spouse (42%) or pets (23%).


You may also be interested in our white paper: The New Path To Purchase