shopping apps

With the spread of mobile technology, mCommerce has started to experience staggering growth. More and more users prefer to shop online via their mobile devices, and in 2016, mobile eCommerce finally overtook desktop in terms of both traffic and budget contributions. The new mCommerce trend seems to complement the mobile marketing revolution. How should the app developers and marketers navigate this environment of growing opportunity and competition?

Based on data provided by Appfigures and Clickky, the research analyzes the Shopping app category worldwide, for App Store and Google Play, giving an assessment of the general trends of the market as well as going into details.

These insights will be useful for app developers and marketers looking into promotion of Shopping apps worldwide. The research will uncover  the nature and dynamics of the intense competition in mCommerce and will provide ideas on marketing budget allocation and achievement of better advertising campaign results.

Appfigures is an app intelligence platform that provides insights about apps, developers, and SDKs — from revenue and performance analytics for app makers to market trends for analysts, and lead generation for service providers.

Clickky is a full-stack platform for mobile advertisers and publishers. The company offers managed and self-serve user acquisition and monetization solutions as well as RTB Marketplace and API solution AdExchange. Among company’s clients  are application developers, mobile ad networks and agencies, media buyers, DSPs and SSPs.


Table of Contents:    

  1. Introduction.
  2. The landscape of the Shopping category worldwide (data provided by Appfigures):

         2.1. General overview of active apps in the Shopping category.

         2.2. Countries with the highest and lowest quantity of Shopping apps.

         2.3. TOP Shopping Apps in Google Play and App Store. 2016 ranking overview.

  1. A deep dive into Shopping: the top mobile analytic SDKs used by developers (data provided by Appfigures).
  2. Cost per Install of mCommerce Android and iOS Apps Worldwide in 2016 (data provided by Clickky).
  3. The Install map of Shopping Apps Worldwide as for January 2017 (data provided by Clickky).
  4. Conclusion.



In 2016, there was a silent revolution in the world: mobile overtook desktop, both in terms of traffic, and money contribution in eCommerce. Most of the population hasn’t even noticed it yet. Nevertheless, the world has approached ever closer to mobile domination.

Ecommerce mobile marketing in 2017 is expected to bring app developers exciting opportunities. The market is still developing; with that said, it’s becoming less chaotic. To win, mCommerce app developers have to know the major trends that can be observed in each Shopping category. The overview of 2016 is a reliable guide to understanding the main shifts that will take place in 2017.

In 2016, according to the app and developer growth trends report by Appfigures, the Shopping category has made it into the TOP 3 by growth in both app stores.  In this  collaborative research by Appfigures and Clickky, we look at how the Shopping category has changed in 2016.

Dig into the landscape of the shopping worldwide, and find out the average cost per user acquisition, to see how your app compares.


2. The landscape of the Shopping category worldwide.

2.1. General overview of active apps in Shopping category.

Shopping is the type of category that has become quickly overcrowded with apps during the last few years.  The chart below displays the strong year-over-year growth for the number of shopping apps available on the Google Play store. The App Store saw a noticeable increase in the growth rate of its Shopping category at the start of 2016. The stronger growth rate persisted throughout 2016 and 2017.

Growth of Shopping apps over time for the three stores:


Apart from the fact that mobile e-commerce has been mentioned among the major trends in mobile marketing for 2016-2017, such a notable increase in the number of Shopping apps may result from:

  • A growing tendency of using smartphones to search for information, services and products and purchases.
  • Expansion of companies from real economy (supermarkets, barber shops, gyms, etc.).
  • Location-based solutions for small businesses, for advertising and attracting the users, etc.

Since this category is growing so fast, we may want to reference that the data Appfigures provided was recorded at the beginning of March 2017. Our analysis will be restricted to Shopping Apps that are currently active.



Google Play has the largest number of Shopping apps, while Amazon, with just 3,094 Shopping apps, is far less influential.


Amazon continues to lack relevance, so statistics for the Amazon store will be dropped going forward.

The main takeaway:

The number of apps in the Shopping category shows a strong year-on-year growth, making mCommerce one of the major trends for 2016-2017. The number of Shopping apps in Google Play is two times higher than one for App Store, and the vast majority of apps are free.


2.2. Countries with the highest and lowest quantity of Shopping apps.

When it comes to summarizing Shopping apps’ availability in different country stores by which country store availability, there isn’t much to report. Most apps enjoy wide availability throughout Apple’s stores in different countries. China ranks first with 32,367 shopping apps followed by the United States with 32,106. There isn’t much drop-off as you go down the rankings. Saudi Arabia — with 29, 414 Shopping apps — has the fewest available. The countries with the largest amount of Shopping Apps available seem to be countries with higher GDP/per capita than those with the fewest, but again, the difference between China and Saudi Arabia is only 2,951 apps.


It’s more difficult to identify the country availability for Android apps sold on the Google Play store. From our current data, we can identify that 68,390 of the 76,157 Shopping apps on the Google Play store are sold in all available countries.

The main takeaway:

87% of all Shopping apps in Google Play are launched worldwide, the figures for the App Store seem to be similar to those for Google Play. There is no major drop-off in terms of number of Shopping apps in different countries. The main publishers launch their apps worldwide, and that means that local Shopping app developers face tough competition in small countries, as there are too many apps for the limited number of mobile users. However, we expect the rise of local Shopping apps over the next year. Small local stores are the best at leveraging mobile technology for providing local-based communications and personalized transactions. Mobile users will welcome them with arms wide open.


2.3. TOP Shopping apps in Google Play and the App Store. 2016 ranking overview.

To identify top Shopping apps, we searched through the app ranks for the five largest app markets in the world: United States, China, Japan, Great Britain, and Germany. For each of these five countries, we combed through six months of rank data and recorded: a) the number of days that each app made was top ranked and b) the average rank for each of those apps when they did obtain a visible rank. To be included in this list, an app needed to be ranked for at least 100 of the past 180 days (need not be consecutive).

The data shows it’s very unusual for an app to have a dominant global position for these five countries. Taobao has arguably been the most popular free Shopping app in China for the past six months with an average Chinese rank of 1.27, but its average ranks for the US, Japan, Germany, and Great Britain are all over 100. Similarly, eBay’s app for iOS has an average rank under ten for the US, Germany, and Great Britain but an average rank over 100 for China and Japan. The Google Play version of eBay’s app performs a lot better in China but at the expense of its rank position in the US, Germany, and Great Britain.

Below are some charts showing the TOP 3 Free Shopping apps in different countries in Google Play and App Store:


Different Shopping apps reach the TOP in each country, and it reflects the preferences of the mobile users. Obviously, companies with large budgets, win the competition for users’ hearts and minds. However,  the nature of these apps (auction, e-commerce shop, sales aggregator, apps of the retail malls) can also show us some behavioural patterns of the users, and provide information for analysis. Here we analyze only free apps, as we’ll show you (chapter 4) how much it costs to acquire users for a free Shopping app in different countries.

In Germany, eBay makes the TOP1 in both stores. However, Wish, a sales app, is on its way to the TOP. Shpock, a second-hand C2C Shopping app, is extremely popular in Germany and the United Kingdom in comparison with to other countries that we have analyzed. In the United Kingdom, Shpock claims the leading position of Android Shopping category for two years in row. After its successful launch in 2012, the startup is conquering the European second-hand market, and beats even giants such as eBay. Germany and the United Kingdom are similar in terms of Shopping apps that make the TOP 3. Despite different positions in Google Play and the App Store, there are 4 leading groups of apps, demonstrating different aspects of shopping:

  • Marketplaces & Online shopping apps: Amazon
  • Online Auctions: eBay
  • Sales aggregator apps: Wish
  • Second hand apps: Shpock.


In the USA, Wish made TOP1 in Google Play, and TOP2 in App Store. Walmart is an example on how retail companies accept the challenge of a new economy and adapt to the emerging conditions.

In Japan, the TOP places are occupied by marketplace, online shopping and auction apps. These are Rakuten, Yahoo! auction, and Yahoo! marketplace in Google Play; Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Auction in App Store.

In China, Taobao marketplace apps by Alibaba lead in both stores. Tmall, an online shopping app by Alibaba, makes TOP 3 in Google Play. In China’s App Store, online shopping apps JD and Vipshop made TOP 2 and TOP 3 respectively.

For now, there are online shopping and marketplace apps, auctions, sales apps, boot apps and apps of offline malls among most widespread. These are Shopping app types that gain popularity in other markets and have enormous potential:

  • So-called “shopping service apps” (e.g., barcode scanning)
  • Meal Shopping and delivery (KFC Xpress in Australia)
  • Thematic Shopping Apps ( in Russia)
  • Mixed Lifestyle & Shopping apps (Step by Step Hairstyles in Pakistan)


The next part of our analysis is devoted to the most installed analytics SDKs for Shopping applications.

The main takeaway:

The analysis of the app ranks for the largest app markets showed that each country has its own peculiarities and fortune favorites. Actually, it wasn’t a surprise to see Taobao, eBay, Amazon, and Wish among the leading Shopping apps. App ranking depends, in no small degree, on the advertiser’s budget and popularity. It is a lot more interesting to know the types of the leading apps than their brand names. Obviously, the second-hand market is on the rise in Europe, and seems to become more attractive for people than sales aggregators. Together with the location-based solution development, we expect the boot sales trend to become even more popular among mobile shoppers. Yahoo seems to feel quite comfortable in Japan, which may be surprising for European users who stopped using  Yahoo! long ago. The right targeting becomes a very important factor in the world where app stores are overcrowded, and mobile users in each country have their own specifics.


3. A deep dive into Shopping: the most installed SDK categories and top mobile analytic SDKs used by developers.

The analysis of the most installed SDKs categories shows that analytics SDKs make up 19% of all those installed.

analytics for shopping apps


Here’s an overview of the main analytics SDKs for both top and non-top Android and iOS Shopping apps.

top analytics SDK for Android apps

top analytics SDK for iOS apps

In Google Play, Facebook Analytics is the unchallenged leader. In the App Store, Google Analytics leads, followed by Facebook Analytics and Crashlytics.

The main takeaway:

App developers usually use 3rd party SDKs. We are entirely certain that “analyze-test-optimize” is the key to success. That’s why the question about the most used analytical SDKs seem to be a matter of great importance. We’re going to point to this part of the research as the SDK analysis of all app categories worldwide showed that only 30 percent apps had the analytics SDK installed.  There are 5 leading analytics SDKs both for iOS and Android apps, however in different positions: Facebook Analytics, Google Analytics, Flurry Analytics, Crashlytics, and Fabric.


4. The average CPI (cost per install) for Shopping apps in different countries for iOS and Android in 2016.

  • General Overview
  • Difference Between CPI in Tier 1 and Emerging Markets
  • Countries with the Maximum and the Minimum CPI Rates in 2016.
  • CPI  Trends for Shopping Apps, Month by Month, 2016
  • Android and iOS Particularities
  • The Highest and the Lowest Points of Install Price Over the 2016 Year Dynamics.


The past year has shown that the mobile market is continuing to develop. Some industry trends, such as diversification, and integration of market players, have influenced the landscape of the mobile economy. Only a few players, with the largest marketing budgets at their disposal, received the majority of media buzz and acquired an interested audience long before the official app release.

For small companies introducing mCommerce apps, it can be a real challenge to attract downloads using low-budget marketing techniques. It is, therefore, crucial to know the perks of the user acquisition cost per install payment model. In addition, one of the major trends we noticed is that established offline companies shift to web and then to mobile with their apps and customers, which steals attention away from smaller developers. This year the issue might become particularly critical for the competition.

Here is the cost per install overview based on Clickky’s market data, collected through 2016, from 233,265 Android and 115,538 iOS user acquisition campaigns for Shopping applications. As Clickky currently works with more than 15,000 traffic partners, and runs an API marketplace AdExchange, the company is circulating around 30,000 mobile offers daily. The data here is reflecting the worldwide price per download trends. The conclusions we’ll make can serve for planning a mobile ad campaign for an application that belongs within the Shopping category.

It goes without saying, that the cost of app installs for iOS and Android widely varies in different countries. The USA and Japan usually show the highest average shopping app install prices, and it’s not surprising that they have been leading again last year. The figures for 2016 show a lower per install spending in Israel and Turkey. The 2016 numbers also reveal a lower install marketing spend in Spain as compared to other major EMEA countries. Even within one region, CPI in the Shopping category varies greatly for different countries.

Within each country, there is a good-sized difference in CPI between platforms. For the majority of the reviewed countries, iOS turns out to be a bit more expensive of an OS than Android. However, over the last year the difference between Android and iOS cost per install began to diminish. For some countries the cost per install on Android has overtaken the cost on iOS. Marketing costs for iOS shopping apps promotion isn’t noticeably higher than for their Android counterparts this year. This also considers the fact that just a year ago there was a significant difference between the two.

This means that the marketing budget can be the same for both OS, but the ARPU can be quite different.

CPI shopping apps

The overview of the TOP Shopping apps, which we made in section 2.3 of the whitepaper,  revealed some differences between the countries in consideration: the US, the UK, Germany, China and Japan. The map below shows the difference in CPI for these countries.

map CPI shopping apps

If we take a closer look at the way geolocation has influenced CPI for Shopping apps, we’ll also see a significant dispersion between CPI in Tier 1 and emerging markets. The charts below show the comparison of the cost per install in the USA (Tier 1) and India (an emerging market) over 2016.  The Shopping apps’ advertisers faced an increased spend for ad campaigns in the United States as compared to those which targeted the Indian market. This trend applies to both Google Play and the App Store. The cost per install in the USA is almost 2 times higher than in India. Notably, the Android CPI for the reviewed countries trends similarly. Meanwhile, the iOS CPI has no expressive dependence, except for a decrease in August.

India vs USA Android CPI

India vs USA iOS

The charts below show the highest and lowest CPI rates in the reviewed countries over the course of 2016. The most significant absolute indicator was discovered for Russia, and the lowest one was seen in Egypt. Despite the fact that Russia is considered an emerging market, it showed the highest absolute indicators for the Shopping category at $2.70 per download as compared to averaging just $0.61 over 2016.

max CPI m-commerce apps


max CPI m-commerce apps

Comparing the month-to-month cost per install dynamics, we can see some peaks at the beginning and in the middle of the year. The Android cost per download in June rose to an all-time high of $0.85, nearly 16 percent more than in February, the next highest month. A summer increase typically occurs for many other categories, including the Shopping one. There is one more of an “anomaly” in June: the cost per Android install exceeded the iOS one.

average CPI shopping apps 2016

The average spending per install of both OS dropped over the 2016. Average Android CPI was down 35 percent over 2016. The negative growth rate for iOS Shopping apps was 28 percent, which was a few less than Android.

average Android CPI shopping apps

average iOS CPI shopping apps

The major peaks in Q4 were up 60 percent, when compared to the next highest indicators: $2.73 for Android apps, and $2.26 for iOS app. Japan is the leading country with the highest CPI in 2016, followed by the U.S. and Russia.

Israel and Egypt are the countries where mobile advertisers faced less spending per install over 2016.

max CPI shopping apps


min CPI shopping apps


The main takeaway:

Big players with large budgets, such as eBay, Amazon, Taobao, AliExpress, etc., attract the most attention. However, the worldwide tendency is that mobile users download fewer apps, and the competition is extremely tough. In the meantime, mobile users are constantly bombarded with advertising buzz. There is a thick informational fog, which small advertisers have to cut through. It’s obvious they turn to paid user acquisition models. They should think hard about budget allocation between different countries and OS, as the cost per install varies widely depending on geo-targeting and operational system.



5. The Install Map for Shopping Apps, January 2017 Data.

The install map shows the locations where users prefered to download more Shopping apps in January 2017  for Android and iOS respectively. At first glance, the install maps are pretty similar to one another. The United States leads as the country with the highest rate of installed Shopping apps. The high install rate can serve as a justification for the above-average cost per install of U.S. users. In the January of 2017 figures, Indonesia approaches the USA in terms of Android Shopping app downloads. On the contrary, iOS Shopping apps are downloaded more eagerly by users from India.

Android install map


iOS install map


Comparing the download rates of Android and iOS for the TOP 10 countries, we can see a large gap between operating systems. Of course, there are errors in measurements, as the USA could have been targeted in a much greater degree than other countries. Which would be why there are more leads coming in from the USA.  However, it becomes clear, that advertisers consider both Tier 1 and emerging markets as promising for Shopping apps. Whereas iOS leads dominate in North American countries, Android install prices are high in SEA and in particular EMEA countries.

download rates of Android and iOS m-commerce apps

The main takeaway:

It seems that mobile is now better for shopping, and stores are for communication and lifestyle. People tend to download Shopping apps to make purchases, and such a rapid growth of available mCommerce apps in stores is just another piece of evidence revealing advertisers’ commitment to fill a promising app market niche. It seems that emerging and developing markets in India and Indonesia can bring advertisers more leads at a lower price. We can also assume that American users are more attractive for advertisers, as they download more apps than the Japanese do. However, the price per install in these countries are almost the same. In fact, we can make many assumptions. The truth is that every app has its individual metrics. To use the information above successfully, you have to know your average revenue per user (ARPU). Only the margin between cost per install, and revenue per user for different countries, together with the lead map, will show you the most profitable locations for your Shopping app. Creating different campaigns, with a self-serve platform for different platforms in specific countries, can save an advertiser money.



The compiled data for the Shopping app category gives important insights about mCommerce market worldwide. The increasing number of Shopping apps indicates the rising demand for this type of service. However, at the same time, the trend results in oversaturation of the market and intense competition for Shopping apps, where big names and large marketing budgets have strong advantages over small-scale developers. To succeed in this competitive, yet promising market, app developers and marketers need to understand the specific nature of different countries and platforms, and tailor their strategies accordingly.

Considering the rapid growth of mCommerce, it is safe to say that Shopping apps have become a powerful trading tool. Whereas traditional stores in the real economy still attract consumers, the actual buying — more often — happens online. Leveraging the potential of the Shopping category is now crucial for a large number of brands.

 The mobile research has been conducted by Appfigures and Clickky.


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