Mobile Benchmark Data Still Strong Amidst Retail Apocalypse

Read Time: 5 - 10 min

The second half of the year always gives way to a retail rush. A decade ago, this involved holiday shoppers flocking to retail outlets. Today, more and more consumers ditch physical stores in favor of online shopping, and mobile continues to up the ante.

Amidst countless classic store closings in 2017 and 2018, it seemed that the retail apocalypse was in full force. More and more consumers opted for convenience, changing gears to mobile devices as the best way to make holiday purchase decisions.

Unsurprisingly, data for the second half of 2018 revealed that apps are retaining more users than ever and average session lengths are on the rise. Meanwhile, engagement with push notifications doubled for iOS devices since the first half of 2018 and nearly doubled for Android devices year over year.

The below benchmarks include stats around app usage and retention, as well as the average performance of push and in-app messaging campaigns.

1.) Mobile Retention Hits a Record High

Mobile retention is measured by the percentage of users who return to an app one month, two months, and three months after the app is downloaded. Churn is the opposite; it measures the percentage of people who do not return to an app one month, two months, and three months after download.

Compared to the H2 2017, 1-month, 2-month, and 3-month retention in the mobile retail and ecommerce space increased by 17%, 23%, and 27% respectively.

But the biggest win for app marketers? Retention rates hovered at close to 50% within one month of app usage.

Retail and eCommerce Monthly Retention on the Rise


 2018 H2 saw retention levels reach 48%, 37%, and 32% after one month, two months, and three months of app usage. Compare this to retention two and a half years ago, when only 36% of users continued using an app after one month, 25% after two, and 20% after three.

App marketers should consider retention as the gold standard metric for their apps’ level of engagement. In an industry with a reputation for fleeting success followed by a steep drop off in usership, retention correlates directly with app stickiness.

Looking to up your app user retention? Here are 5 ways to get started.

2.) Push Notification Engagement Maintains Good Momentum

Push engagement is defined as the number of sessions the average user completes within seven days of receiving a push. The second half of 2018 saw huge increases in this metric for both Android and iOS: 

Push Engagement Increases Over Time

It’s interesting to see that iOS was the leader in push engagement for retail and ecommerce, whereas now Android is on top. Sometime in the second half of 2017 the dynamic switched.

This could indicate that Android has become a more competitive player in the notification game, however it’s important to keep in mind Android’s push delivery format. On Android devices, pushes land on the lock screen and remain there until the user takes some action, whereas on Apple devices the push is stored in a notification center after the device is unlocked. This skews the Android push open rate higher since by design it keeps apps top of mind.

While push shifted in Android’s favor, iOS reigns supreme when it comes to in-app messaging, beating out Android across the board in all metrics during 2018.

  android ios
In-App Open Rate 13.92% 19.63%
In-App Conversion Rate 3.6% 7.6%
In-App Engagement 12.22 13.14

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3.) Usage Metrics Show Less Growth

While the above paints a very positive picture, metrics such as time in app and app launches per user continue to experience a slow decrease. That being said, average session lengths saw a slight uptick compare to the same time period last year and the first half of this year.

Retail and eCommerce Usage Metrics YoY

Based on this chart, the average user spent 29 minutes and 36 seconds in the average app in a month, launched the average app 8.76 times per month, and spent 3 minutes and 23 seconds per session.

This decrease isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It hints at increased user familiarity with the app experience as apps get better at integrating into consumers’ lives (machine learning, anyone?).

With A Strong Retail Second Half, Onward Into 2019

The holiday season is a great time of year to engage with consumers in new and personalized ways. While we see good signals of interest from app users, there is still much work to be done to target them effectively and send notifications that they find valuable.

What specifically should mobile app marketers focus on?

Android marketers should focus on crafting aesthetically pleasing and motivating in-app messages, while it would serve iOS marketers well to really engage users with pushes. To accomplish this you must understand each user’s tastes on a granular level and offer up content that connects with them.

Interested in digging into the data further? Check out our latest benchmark report here:

Retail and eCommerce App Benchmarks


Localytics is the leading mobile engagement platform across more than 2 billion devices and 12,000 mobile and web apps. Localytics processes 3 billion data points daily. For this analysis, Localytics examined increases in user retention after one month, two months, and three months since the first half of 2016, push engagement within seven days since the second half of 2016, and session lengths, app launches, and time in app since the second half of 2017.