Why Your Mobile App Strategy Might Be All Wrong…As Told By Walmart

As keen readers of the site will know, we watch the trends very carefully as they relate to changes in customer channel adoption. So when I heard that a team from a recent 24hr hackathon sponsored by Walmart Labs created an SMS concierge service, I needed to post it here. As always – the data behind it will surprise you.

Here is the link to the article

On the face of it, this article details a pretty straight forward story. Walmart convenes a 24 hour hack-a-thon of invited bright minds, one team comes up with an SMS based shopping companion service to help customers when they are in-store.

Great service – the team wins!

Here is a quick video that talks to the laypersons headline. Notice the clear focus on those that don’t have Smartphones. It is about the masses…right?

Hang On!

For those of us that spend our lives in this world, we know there is huge difference between smart phone users and app downloaders. Which is the assumption the youtube presenter made.

As we all know...

A smartphone user is nothing unless they download and engage with my app.

So let's try and break this down by the data available.

I had one of our tech guys work up the following image, which hopefully talks to how the data shows a different picture.

The headline here is:
SMS provides access to 75.5M (71%) MORE customers than the Walmart smartphone app.

Mobile Stats

How did we get to this number?

1. The total customer base of Walmart in the US is approx. 106,000,000
2. Smartphone penetration in the US is approx. 75%
However, it is not about smart phone users it is about active app users, and;
3. Research from Forrester tells us than 63% of users have 1 – 5 retail apps downloaded to their phone.
4. Furthermore, only 13% have between 6 – 10 retail apps on their phone.
To give some sense of context about how these numbers impact, the top 2 downloaded retails apps in the US are Amazon and Walmart.
Thankfully, we know what the Walmart App unique users are a month.
5. The unique Walmart app users are estimated at 22,000,000. Or 21% of the 75% of the total customer base that have smartphones.
Given it is a good chance that the Walmart app is in the 1 – 5 downloads mentioned in (3) the difference is explained by the gap between downloads and actual active usage.
6. Cell Phone penetration is estimated to be at 92% or 97,520,000 customers.
7. So the difference between app users and cellphone users is 75.5M or 71% of the total Walmart Customer Base.

The reason we have included the Forrester research is so you can attempt to do the math on where your business would be in the example. Walmart is one of the 2 top apps and the still get less than half of the users that downloaded their app to actually use it.

What would the unique user number look like if you were the 10th most popular app? or the 20th?

I have written a post from the latest Comscore research that shows how hard it is to build an organic app user base.

Tags:   Mobile