Is ‘App-Rooming’ The New Showrooming?

71 percent of consumers have used a mobile app to browse before making an in-store purchase — and retailers should think omnichannel to take advantage, says Apptentive.

A whopping 88 percent of consumers’ mobile time is now spent on apps, and with that comes shopping repercussions: 71 percent of people have used a retail mobile app to browse before making an in-store purchase at least once in the past month, according to a report from Apptentive, a mobile communication startup backed by Google Ventures.

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The average Apple user has 119 apps.

In other words, a majority of consumers are now “app-rooming,” a kind of reverse showrooming that sees shoppers relying on their trusted apps for product research and then seeking out the item in physical stores. App use while shopping has also markedly increased; 51 percent use an app during in-store shopping trips.

This increase in app use has significant implications for retailers, who must think of ways to design their app experience in a way that will to motivate shoppers toward purchases. One way to do this might be push notifications — so long as they are not over-deployed such as to distract or annoy shoppers — or beacon-based messaging; relevant, contextual messages delivered to app users in real-time is one way to capture consumer attention in the crucial in-store moment.

“Giving customers the opportunity to engage with a brand on multiple platforms at the same time (in-store and in-app) allows customers to direct the experience,” says Emily Carrion, head of marketing at Apptentive. “This further strengthens their loyalty toward the brand and driving sales.”

Below, key takeaways from the survey — and what brands can do to deliver a consistent message to app users.

  • Mobile app success can’t be measured solely in terms of how much revenue it’s generating via in-app purchases: The volume of shoppers using retail mobile apps to help make their in-store buying decisions (71 percent of all consumers surveyed) points to the value apps are providing customers and retailers. Mobile apps are driving in-store revenue in various ways, which means in-app revenue is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to evaluating an app’s success. Positive online reviews, increasing numbers of monthly active users, and, of course, in-store sales are important metrics as well.
  • Brands who invest in omnichannel experiences appear to be seeing the payoff in terms of sales: If the customer experience provided in-store does not match the customer experience in the mobile app, or if a customer attempts to connect with a brand through its app only to be disappointed that no app exists, a disconnect is created that will influence the way customers shop in the future, Apptentive writes in the report.
  • Providing value by enhancing customers’ in-store shopping experiences will earn their loyalty: Well-designed mobile apps simplify consumers’ lives and enhance their shopping experiences. The better an experience is with a brand’s app, the more likely its customers will be to engage, positioning them to become loyal over time. Apptentive’s research suggests that customers appreciate investments retailers make in improving their in-store and online experiences, and they return the favor by purchasing from retailers who meet them where they are — on mobile apps.
About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.