Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

Is May the new November for ecommerce?

By Alexandre Pham, VP EMEA, Adjust

Mobile shopping saw a huge surge at the start of the pandemic when consumers had little choice. But even as brick-and-mortar stores have reopened, spending via online channels continues to rise because consumers relish the convenience that ecommerce affords. 

Globally, ecommerce sales are expected to reach $5.42 trillion by the end of 2022, up from $4.9 trillion in 2021, according to Shopify. Mobile is the main driver of this growth, with 67% of ecommerce sales coming from mobile devices in 2021. In fact, according to Adjust’s 2022 Mobile App Trends Report, mobile retail ecommerce sales reached $3.56 trillion in 2021, as 1 billion hours were spent on shopping apps. 

For those looking to optimise mobile sales, seasonal trends present unique opportunities to do so, as user habits and behaviours shift rapidly from day to day. November has long been the most lucrative month for ecommerce sales, with its Black Friday sales and pre-Christmas rush in full force. But now, a new challenger has entered the arena: new data from Adjust suggests that May is quickly presenting itself as one of the most profitable months for the ecommerce vertical.

Shoppers broke in-app spending records in May 2021

To find the opportunities for marketers, we took a look at global app installs, sessions, and in-app revenue of ecommerce apps from May over the last three years to determine year-on-year growth and assess how the data measured up against the yearly average. 

We found that May 2021 was the biggest month ever for ecommerce in-app revenue —. 9% higher than November 2021 and 18% higher than the yearly average. Compared to May 2020, which was already a huge month for the vertical, in-app revenue climbed by an enormous 112% and this trend has continued into 2022. 

May was the best month for ecommerce apps again this year so far, with installs 5% higher than the year’s current average. Installs in May 2022 were also 2% more than last year’s average. In fact, global installs of ecommerce apps have been growing steadily year on year every May. 

So, what does this mean for mobile marketers?

This spike in May ecommerce sales, similar to November, is impacted by wider trends. For May, it is likely the result of consumers shopping for summer, along with the many global holidays in the month, including Mother’s Day in the U.S. and Eid al-Fitr. For marketers, leveraging these holidays and observances is a great way to attract new customers and increase installs and sales. 

Although apps can rely on tried-and-trusted tactics, such as sales and promotional codes, apps can stand out by incorporating more seasonal hooks in their campaigns and focusing on localisation. Marketers making significant changes and taking risks to stand out from the crowd will attract new users and take advantage of greater app engagement. 

As well as app installs and sales, it’s useful to look at the frequency of users on ecommerce apps. Compared to the yearly averages, global sessions of ecommerce apps grew by 7% in May 2020 and 1% in May 2021. The smaller boost seen last year could also reflect users shifting spending toward restaurants and travel, where upticks were seen. In May 2022, however, sessions were 3% higher than the 2022 average and 11% higher than the 2021 average, indicating a normalisation of user behaviour and a consistent trend for May performance.

Taking a look at the amount of time spent on apps, the average session length in May 2021 was 10.2 minutes and has jumped to 11.1 minutes in May 2022 — an almost one-minute increase — which represents a huge opportunity for further monetisation and user incentivisation. 

This increase can again be attributed to wider trends. For example, during the pandemic people worldwide spent overall more time at home — and on their smartphones. Due to global lockdowns continuing into May 2020, sessions for ecommerce apps saw a massive boost of 65% compared to May 2019. 

Of course, this engagement also relies on marketers working to retain the users acquired throughout months with greater installs and consumer interaction. Overall user experiences should be optimised for engagement, participation, and conversions. By developing strategies, including personalisation, gamification, and conversational AI, users will be more enticed to open an app, and their overall experience will be more rewarding. From there, marketers can build a devoted user base, increase revenue and improve their app’s return on investment.

We expect ecommerce apps to break another record this year, mainly because it’s looking likely to be the first holiday season without any restrictions or social distancing rules. It will be interesting to see how ecommerce apps perform during the holiday season and how May stacks up against November when the latter’s numbers are in. 

This year, the FIFA World Cup will kick off just before the holiday shopping season, gifting new ecommerce opportunities to brands to capitalise on the world’s biggest, most popular sporting event. And with the ongoing macroeconomic factors, including the pandemic, supply chain issues, and inflation, continuing to shift spending habits, it’s essential for marketers to keep an eye out for changing trends and to fine-tune their marketing strategies to improve user engagement, build customer loyalty, and increase revenue.


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