Why Shopping Apps Thrive on Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Over the last decade, consumers have switched to using mobiles as their primary device for browsing and shopping. As a result, many fashion brands are increasingly investing in their mobile strategy. 


Every year,  Black Friday and Cyber Monday sees retailers smash sales records. To take full advantage targeting smartphone users is crucial. According to Adobe Analytics, online shopping via smartphones hit a new record in 2020, accounting for 41.1% of Cyber Week revenue. That’s a 7.4% growth over the previous year, and industry experts expect the value to go even higher this year

Multiply Your Cyber Week Success With a Branded Shopping App

It’s no secret that people shop with their phones, but what many brands don’t realize is the role branded shopping apps can play in increasing revenue. Based on Cyber Week data from one of the brands using our platform, we see that on average 7% of their online customers were app users. However, what’s incredible about this is that those 7% accounted for 35% of their total online revenue. Even this relatively low share of users generated a huge boost in revenue.

Here’s the secret: native apps have always performed better than the web, but during big sale events like Cyber Week, the performance gap gets even bigger, with app conversions going through the roof.

This real data from our platform brands shows that a relatively small group of app users (6%) creates a huge number of orders (29%), thus accounting for almost one-third of the total e-com revenue.

By utilizing and promoting the mobile app, brands like G-Star RAW, Scotch & Soda and Vince access incredible conversion rates, taking advantage of the improved user experience, speed, and mobile-specific features to offer users a great shopping experience on their most-used device. Furthermore, sale events offer an incredible opportunity to grow the app user base, a significant advantage that can’t be understated. Our data shows that the vast majority of users keep the app on their smartphones after sales events. When your brand is present on a user’s phone through the app, you are always there in the pocket of the users and just one push notification away from communicating directly with your customers, avoiding the extremely competitive channels that inboxes and ad spaces become during busy sales days.

Apps Outperform Websites on Multiple KPIs – And The Gap Is Growing

What are the important KPIs that are used to measure e-commerce success? Where do native shopping apps outperform the other channels? It’s more than a significantly higher conversion rate. Here are some indicators: 

  • Conversion rates: a native app achieves up to 7 times higher conversion rates than what brands see on their website.
  • Average order value: app customers spend more money in the app than on the web.
  • Time spent on channel: consumers spend more time on the app, leading to more exposure to your products, which make them more likely to make a purchase.
  • Customer retention rate: app customers come back more often than website visitors.

The bottom line is that mobile apps deliver superior results across multiple KPIs. Outperforming on just one of these factors alone would be good for your e-commerce business. But when all these factors work together, the performance compounds, multiplying your success. And that’s before you consider that the gap between app and web is growing:

The performance gap between app and web is growing. Numbers are based on our platform customers.

Do the maths yourself: what revenue would you be missing out on without fully utilizing the possibilities of a shopping app? Below, we map some of the brands using our platform’s actual revenue against their theoretical revenue if their app customers had visited their mobile website instead:

Actual revenue from app customers in blue compared to hypothetical revenue if these customers had bought on the web in orange. Based on actual data using mobile web conversion rate multiplied by users in the app.

Boost App Revenue With App-Exclusive Campaigns

Is it enough to have a shopping app? Unfortunately, not all shopping apps generate these sky-high conversion rates. It’s important to have a sound app strategy in place.

The question is: how do you motivate brand fans to download your brand app and get the most revenue out of big sale periods like Black Friday? One of the most successful tactics to boost app downloads and app sales are app-exclusive campaigns. 

App-exclusive campaigns create an exclusive club experience for app users. It’s like belonging to a small group of brand loyalists, and you’re rewarded for that. Think early access to sales, new collections, or limited editions. And because your target audience has downloaded your app, it’s easy to reach them. Your brand is always on hand and just one tap away with push notifications. 

This year we’ve seen a big shift from more traditional big bang sales on all channels at the same time to exclusive early access sales campaigns for app customers. 80% of our brands used early access campaigns this year which paid off tremendously and spiked app downloads and overall sales. 

Case Study: G-Star Shows The Power of Early Access Campaigns

G-Star launched their Black Friday sale with an exclusive early access campaign for their app users and repeated this after a couple of days. Since app launch, G-Star has consistently been building upon and growing their app users base, Cyber Week helped them realize incredible growth spikes in new downloads and additional revenue. 

Big sale events are some of the most powerful moments of the year to grow your app user base. Successfully putting your app first in your promotion, or doing an app exclusive promotion, greatly increases app downloads. Once users have the app installed, they can be activated at any given time with appealing push notifications. The app in turn will make taking advantage of the sale very intuitive and user-friendly, removing numerous friction points that negatively impact conversion rates on traditional mobile websites.

The green circles demonstrate Black Friday early access campaigns, the first peak shows the number of downloads after their ‘30% off’ campaign, the second peak shows the results of their ‘50% off’ campaign.

Get Inspired By G-Star’s Black Friday Communications

Of course, it’s not just about having an app – it’s also what you do with it. App positioning is crucial, always keep the ‘Why’ in mind. Why should users download your app? What’s in it for them? Which benefits does your app provide? Early access and exclusive offers for app users have proven to be especially effective. The app gives you the possibly to create an exclusive bond with your app users, let them feel like they are first in line, and be sure to cater to them as the top fans of your brand.

Once you have a clear understanding of the ‘Why’, make sure to clearly communicate this towards your brand fans and customers. There are numerous points in the customer journey where promoting the app not only makes sense from your perspective but also from the user’s perspective. Think about places like confirmation e-mails, website headers for people browsing on mobile, and even packaging to make the returning process more effortless. This may sound like a lot of work but just think of the potential. When a user downloads your app, you are directly there, in the pocket of your user at all times. This is a considerable benefit compared to the web, where you will often need a thorough retargeting campaign to re-attract the same user.

For a sales event specifically, it pays off to put extra emphasis on your app. Below, we’ve gathered some examples of how G-Star’s communicates their offers on Black Friday:

Get exclusive early access to the G-Star RAW Black Friday sale with their app
Clearly communicate the ‘why’. Secure early access by downloading the app
In-app promotion: let app users feel like they are first in line
While users are shopping, make sure to remind them of the sales event
Use the action bar to promote the app, clearly defining the ‘why’ for users

Sales event like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are unique opportunities to drastically boost the app user base, which creates both short-terms and long-term value for brands. To take full advantage of this, it’s important to use various touch points within the customer journey to promote the ‘why’ of an app. If you can clearly define why users should download the app, they will not only do so, but they will love doing so.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to discuss the business opportunities of a shopping app for your brand. Let’s get in touch!

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