Mobile Apps

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Mobile Apps

Mobile app case studies are presented for Starbucks and xxx in the brief below. Information regarding the sales volume, transactions, and session lengths generated from mobile apps is also presented. Current publicly available information regarding the number of visits to ecommerce sites from mobile apps was not source, in its place is presented information related to the number of global digital buyers, and estimates of the overall share of visits from mobile devices.

Mobile Benchmarks and e-Commerce

Sales volume from Mobile Apps

eCommerce Transactions from Mobile Apps

  • In the United States in 2020, 71% of mobile commerce occurs in an app.
  • Mobile app transactions in 2018 accounted for 65% of all retail transactions, with mobile web accounting for 43%, mobile app for 18%, and desktops for 39%.
  • Conversion rates from mobile web was 4%, while the conversion rate from a mobile app was 18%.

eCommerce Visits from Mobile Apps

  • In 2018, there were 1.8 billion digital buyers globally.
  • E-Commerce sales made up 14.1% of all global retail sales. This is estimated to increase to 17.5% by 2021.
  • The mobile share of organic search visits in the US was 61.6% in Q4 2020.
  • Smartphones were used to make 65% of all retail site visited globally in Q1 2019.
  • Consumers prefer to use an app over a mobile website to shop online (78%), expect a mobile site to load in less than 2 seconds (47%), and are less likely (88%) to return to a mobile site if they had a bad experience.

Session length — Mobile App

  • A typical ecommerce session length for mobile apps globally is 5 minutes and 28 seconds.
  • The monthly average for mobile session length in retail is 3 minutes and 16 seconds.
  • On a weekly basis the typical session length in retail is 3 minutes and 15 seconds.
  • The overall average session length for a desktop is 3 minutes and 37 seconds. For a tablet, it is 2 minutes and 57 seconds.
  • In the United States users spent a total of 173.380 billion hours on mobile in 2020.
  • There was an increase of 0.7 hours in time spent on mobile by the average US user in 2020. In 2020 the total time spent was 3.5 hours per day, in 2019, it was 2.9 hours per day.
  • The top five apps in the US in terms of time spent in app are Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Target, and Instacart.

Additional Information

  • Mobile app downloads in the US in 2020 totaled 13.390 billion.
  • Mobile apps have the highest average order value at $102, compared to desktop at $100, and mobile browser at $92.
  • The shopping cart abandonment rates for mobile apps is 20%, desktop sites is 68%, and mobile sites is 97%.

Mobile App Case studies

Starbucks Mobile App

What did Starbucks do?

  • The objective behind Starbuck's mobile app was to remain in the consciousness of their users and to gather information on them.
  • This was done by using the mobile app to offer special deals and loyalty programs membership to the users, and to ultimately provide users with an experience that is similar to visiting the store.
  • Starbucks Mobile App was designed to provide a user-friendly mobile experience, a loyalty program that engendered engagement, mobile pay and ordering, and integration with other platforms.

How did Starbucks do it?

  • Content sent to mobile app users was highly personalized, and regularly delivered relevant messaging and notifications to users, and customers were also given the ability to place, and pay for, orders via the app.
  • The user-friendly mobile experience was created from personalized content, the addition of a geo-location feature so that users could see how close the nearest Starbucks was, challenges that help add points to the loyalty card, and easy navigation features.
  • The Starbucks Rewards Loyalty Program awarded app users with two stars for every dollar spent, member offers, and other member benefits that were customized to users.
  • Online ordering and payments was made simple and easy with the app from dedicated pick up points for online orders, furnished employees with new devices, and creates interest in new menu items with notifications and email blasts. Orders have been enabled via Amazon Alexa, and has also been integrated into Ford vehicles.
  • The App integrates with other apps, particularly music and driving apps. The company has partnered with iTunes, Spotify, and Lyft to provide services and offers to customers.


  • Mobile orders as a percentage of total transactions increased from 14% in Q4 2018 to 24% in Q4 2020.
  • In 2019, Starbucks had the second most popular proximity payment app with 25.2 million users, after the Apple Pay app with 30 million.
  • Mobile orders are up to 25% of company transactions, up from 17% prior to the pandemic.

Target Mobile App

What did Target Do?

  • Over the years Target has developed a number of apps. The main Target app is consumer facing, the Healthful app was a pharmacy app, Registry targeted bridal and baby consumers, Cartwheel was for discount offers, and Connected, was for the lights' system.
  • Overtime the Cartwheel app was merged into the main Target app, while Healthful was shut down, leaving the Target, Registry and Target Connected as the remaining apps on offer to customers.
  • Mr. Gene Liebel, co-founder of digital agency Work & Co., believes that the merging of the discount into the main Target app was part of a strategy to increase sales. TechCrunch attributed the merger to fusing loyalty, discounts, and the digital catalogs into a single platform

How did Target do it?

  • Target shoppers are given the opportunity to access Target Circle offers, save from offers and RedCard Exclusives, gain access to the weekly ad and sales and promos, and pay by scanning to Wallet Barcode.
  • Among the strategies employed in app development were gaining an understanding of customer needs, generating fast paced feedback, offering customer rewards, and localisation.
  • The apps were developed with the user placed at the heart of the design, and included technology to display customer location in store, which will then directed shoppers to discount deals.
  • Wallet, the barcode based mobile payments tool, was built into the primary app to help with discoverability. Target was also praised early on in its mobile app journey for leveraging mobile social experiences.


  • Smartphone shoppers browsing the Target app and site increased from 22% to 39%, while tablet users increased from 28% to 45%.
  • For the fiscal year ending on 30 January 2020, Target's sales increased by more than $15 billion, a larger amount than the 11 previous years of growth combined.
  • Digital sales grew by $10 billion in 2020, driven by a 235% growth in target's same-day services. This growth is attributed to ecommerce and shopping practices during the pandemic.

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