Nearly two-thirds of consumers use retailers’ apps in-store to meld digital and physical experiences

Corey Gault, Senior Director PR & Communications at Airship, looks at the key takeaways from a survey of 9,000 consumers looking at their use of retailer apps in store. 

In a recent survey of more than 9,000 global consumers across the US, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore and India, the app experience company Airship found that nearly two-thirds of consumers use retailers’ apps in-store to meld physical and digital experiences.

More than half of respondents in every country surveyed said they are likely to use their smartphones while shopping in-store to accomplish eight specific activities. For example, opening a retailer’s app, using loyalty cards or coupons, or streamlining click-and-collect experiences. Germany was the only exception for a single activity, “Scan QR codes or smart shelf tags for more information, special incentives or to join loyalty/text club,” where only 42 per cent said they’d be likely to do that.

Data from the survey also shows that these behaviors cut across demographics, demonstrating the growing role apps have in peoples’ lives, as the lines between digital and physical retail continue to blur. In fact, for most countries and generations, the likelihood of using an app while shopping in-store is only a few percentage points behind visiting the retailer’s website, despite the fact that customers have to first download apps from the App Store or Google Play.

While millennials are leading in this merging of the digital and the physical, considerable percentages of boomers are also likely to use their smartphones while shopping in-store. In fact, considering the economic impact of the pandemic, only 8 per cent of boomers use retail apps less than before the pandemic started, compared to 14 per cent of Gen Z, 12 per cent of millennials and 10 per cent of Gen X.

These findings illustrate the significant opportunity that exists for brands to engage older generations and educate them about the benefits of their apps and how they can enhance their in-store shopping experiences.

Other key findings from the survey show that immediate value is the #1 reason people opt in to app notifications, while “personalized offers based on behavior/past purchases” is among the factors least likely to motivate the initial opt in. However, “information not relevant/personalized to my needs” is one of the most common reasons for opting out. It’s clear that consumers want personalized, individualized interactions, but getting the opt in requires demonstrating immediate value, like discounts or loyalty rewards. White-glove services with shipping/ delivery/curbside pickup alerts, order confirmations/receipts, and early access to big sales events also come in as top opt-in motivators.

Consumers are also becoming more selective about where, when and how they will share their personal information with brands. They are more likely to stay opted in to brand communications if they have control over the reason (43 per cent), frequency (41 per cent) and channels (40 per cent) with which brands engage them. This shows the imperative for brands to learn about user preferences during the onboarding experience, and continue that effort throughout the customer lifecycle.

These are just a few of the highlights from Airship’s report: The Mobile Customer Imperative. Download the full report for more actionable data about: 

  • Consumer preferences regarding the timing and frequency of receiving brand messages
  • What personal information consumers are willing to share with brands, and for what reasons
  • Why and how consumers are increasingly ignoring emails from brands