Mobile shopping persists amid global reopenings with purchases Up 30% January to May 2021, says new report from Liftoff and App Annie

Liftoff, a global performance-based mobile app marketing optimisation platform, in partnership with the global data and analytics company App Annie and native mobile app platform Poq, has released its annual mobile shopping apps report detailing the rapidly-growing market. The study reveals a historic and prolonged surge in mobile shopping apps use in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Android’s outperformance of iOS in key marketing metrics.

Liftoff’s data draws on more than 95 billion ad impressions, 1.1 billion clicks across 14 million installs, and 39 million in-app events between 1 June 2020, and 1 June 2021, to find:

The pandemic put the booming retail app industry into hyperdrive -- and it’s not slowing down 

The analysis highlights that consumers flocked to mobile retail amid COVID-19 restrictions, boosting a years-long trend of increased adoption in the sector. Globally, the report shows mobile users spent 49% more time on these apps since January 2020, reaching nearly 18 million hours spent weekly in April 2021. Regionally, APAC experienced the most significant growth in time spent (54%), followed by the Americas (40%) and Europe and the Middle East (EMEA) (38%).

Mobile buying has persisted despite the initial global reopening period, a promising sign that these growth trends are here to stay. Specifically, the analysis revealed a 30.1% increase in purchase rates from Jan 2021 to May 2021 (growing from 15.3% 19.9%). Purchase sizes also spiked, with baskets hitting a high $88 in June 2021, compared to January’s $74 -- a 15.8% increase. 

“We are living in an era that will be defined by mass adoption of new technologies, and retail apps are reaping the benefit—our analysis over the last five years has shown a strong and continuous trend of consumers racing to these platforms and forming new shopping habits,” said Mark Ellis, co-founder and CEO of Liftoff. “Continued interest in mobile shopping—even amid physical reopening - suggests that this isn’t an ephemeral trend but a new normal that will outlast these Covid times.”

"As the retail industry moves toward pandemic recovery, time spent in mobile shopping apps is up 30% YoY, said Sam Yang, SVP Global Field Operations, App Annie. "Retailers have heavily relied on mobile commerce over the past year to make up for the decrease in in-person purchases. Even as the pandemic restrictions are lifted and stores open to in-person shopping, we predict that mobile commerce will continue to rise and present a key element for retailers to capitalize on."

Android edges out iOS as the leading platform for retail 

In the ongoing “platform wars,” Android shows great promise—especially in retail. Android users were highly-engaged with shopping apps, spending a collective 2 billion hours a week on these apps as of May 2021, a 51% increase year-over-year.

The report found that Android’s $2.13 cost-per-install (CPI) was 55% less expensive than the $3.85 of iOS, while simultaneously offering a greater install-to-action rate: 16.5%, compared to the 11.3% of iOS.


The 2021 Shopping Apps Report draws from Liftoff and App Annie’s internal data from 1 June 2020, through 1 June 2021. Liftoff's data spans 95 billion ad impressions, 1.1 billion clicks across 106 different apps, 14 million installs and 39 million events between June 1, 2020, and June 1, 2021. Specifically, Liftoff’s data tracks costs and conversions globally, breaking down key engagement activities and trends to compare performance across regions (North America, LATAM, EMEA, and APAC).

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