Shoppers have a new attitude toward apps, and retailers are taking advantage

  • More people are downloading and using retailers' apps than ever before, according to a survey by financial-services firm Synchrony.

  • Shoppers also seem to be using more of these apps, reporting regularly using a total of four apps on average. That's up from two last year.

  • Retail apps allow for easy checkout with secure mobile pay options like Apple Pay, and they help the retailer develop a more intimate connection with the customer. This means that app users tend to be some of retail's best and most loyal customers.

Customers are finally getting used to shopping on their phones.

A big part of that is an uptick in the downloading and usage of retailers' mobile apps. A new study by financial-services firm Synchrony found that customers are using double the number of retail apps on their phones than they did before. On average, they're using four apps, up from two just last year.

Why are they keeping the apps? Perhaps it's because they're finally happy with the experience. According to the study, 83% of customers said they are happy with the experience of mobile apps overall. Only 21% said they deleted a retailer's app because of a poor experience — down from 35% saying the same last year.

1,255 people responded to Synchrony's survey.

That good experience could also be making customers braver when it comes to mobile shopping. More of them appear to be willing to try out these shopping apps, with 67% saying they have downloaded a retailer's app and about half saying they did so as soon as they heard about it.

The uptick in mobile app usage is great news for retailers trying to build a relationship with customers.

"In today's competitive landscape, a mobile application is not just another piece of technology for retailers, it is a vital tool to engage shoppers with their brand. Done well, retail apps engage both in and out of stores with personalized experiences and easy credit solutions," said Maya Mikhailov, head of marketing at GPShopper, a subsidiary of Synchrony.

Retailers like Best Buy, Macy's, Nike, and Amazon have all added extra functionality to their app in addition to purchasing ability. Some have integrated payment services like Apple Pay or overhauled the app to improve the overall experience.

"Consumers that use retail mobile applications are a retailer's top shoppers. As such, they want their apps to be tailored to their unique shopping experiences and preferences," Mikhailov said.

The rise in retail app and mobile phone usage led to a large uptick in mobile shopping in 2017, contributing to the largest holiday sales in recent years.

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