Retailers have upped their app game in 2018, prompting a surge in consumer interest in mobile apps specifically designed to handle online shopping.

Two recent surveys from Synchony found that 47 percent of retailers were focused heavily on improving their apps and online shopping experience, and consumers have responded overwhelmingly, adopting double the amount of apps they did last year.

According to the survey, smartphone users now carry and shop regularly on at least 4 apps from their favorite retailers. Retailer investment in apps has paid off handsomely, as 83 percent of survey participants were happy with the app experience and continue to use it more often.

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Retail app users said they use it primarily to browse for products, access savings coupons and make purchases.

Maya Mikhailov, head of marketing at GPShopper, a subsidiary of Synchrony, told Business Insider the apps allow companies to build brand loyalty and track what their most devoted customers seek to buy on a daily basis.

"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," Mikhailov said.

"Done well, retail apps engage both in and out of stores with personalized experiences and easy credit solutions."

Companies have been able to merge the bevy of online payment services with their own apps, making it easier for people, especially older millennials with increasing buying power, to pick a produce and check out quickly. Macy's, Best Buy and Nike all have mobile apps linked to Apple Pay and other services.

Last month, a Juniper Research report found that in-store mobile wallet payments will reach $2 trillion by 2020, accounting for one third of all transactions. Juniper added that mobile wallet payments are going to reach $1 trillion for the first time in 2018, proving that they were one year off from their past predictions.

The survey touches on the trend of mobile payments, with the majority of the survey's 1,255 respondents saying they believed that by 2025, physical wallets will no longer be necessary. Synchrony said 60 percent of those surveyed said that within 7 years smartphones will be the primary mode of payment in most settings.

"For retailers who have not thought about enabling mobile wallet acceptance, now is the time to start making plans. Our Retail Survey showed that most large retailers ($100M+ in sales) have implemented mobile wallet technology (75 percent), yet only about half of smaller retailers ($10M or less) have done so," they wrote in the survey.

"A future of digital payments is approaching. Smaller retailers are well advised to put plans in place to accept a digital wallet in the future."

In spite of consumer satisfaction with apps, there are signs that some may be more conflicted than others. More than 40 percent said they still did not feel comfortable putting all of their credit cards and IDs on their smartphone, yet 55 percent said they have retailer apps with credit card capabilities.

Nearly 80 percent said they thought credit card servicing features were extremely valuable to any retailer app.

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  1. Mobile shopping app adoption and usage has doubled compared to last year, according to a Synchrony survey.
  2. Consumers place a high value on retailer apps and more than 80 percent said they were happy with their current mobile shopping apps.

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Jonathan Greig is a Contributing Writer for CNET's He's a freelance journalist based in New York City. He recently returned to the United States after reporting from South Africa, Jordan, and Cambodia since 2013.