Retail app downloads going up.

Consumers are downloading retailer mobile apps at double the pace they were last year, and they’re using those apps to buy more, according to a new study by financial services company Synchrony and RTi Research.

The online study of 1,255 respondents found that 67% of consumers have downloaded a retailer’s app, and consumers used an average of four retail mobile apps this year, compared to two last year.

It also found that more than half of consumers have downloaded a retailer app specifically to get a coupon or discount. About half (49%) of consumers who downloaded a retailer’s app to use it to make purchases, it reported. Fifty percent said they used the apps to access coupons, and 60% said they used to apps to browse for products.


“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, who is senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Synchrony-owned GPShopper, which develops mobile apps. “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.”

Retailers are apparently noticing the uptick in app interest. According to the study, 47% said they’ve placed “significant focus” on apps.

“Fifty-three percent of consumers said they have card-servicing features with the app. Of this group, 77% rated the features extremely/very valuable. As a result, retailers are quickly including payment features in their apps, and forward-looking companies are enabling these features,” the study said.

Not all retailers have apps, however. The Synchrony study found that 75% of large retailers (those with $100 million or more in sales) have mobile apps, but only about half of small retailers (those with $10 million or less in sales) have one.

Overall, a full 83% of respondents said they are happy with their retail app experiences.

“This is a sign that consumers will increase shopping using retail apps in the future,” the study said.

Not everyone has loved every retailer app, however. The study found that 21% have deleted a retailer app because of a poor experience (that was down from 35% last year, the study noted). A third deleted retailer apps after shopping less with the retailer, and 34% said they deleted retailer apps to free up storage space.

Consumers are still trying to figure out the broader role mobile wallets will play in their lives as well. In particular, the study found that 60% of U.S. consumer believe that by 2025 the average shopper will no longer carry a physical wallet. However, 42% aren’t willing to use their phones to hold their credit and rewards cards right now.

The study also found that one in five consumers owns a smartspeaker, and adoption of the technology grew among all age groups.

“Smart speakers are still primarily used to answer routine search requests, but there is great potential for increased usage in shopping, purchasing and customer service,” the study said.

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