Sub-Sarahan Africa records 55% rise in retail spending in mobile apps as e-commerce growth surges

AppsFlyer, the marketing measurement and experience platform, has released the 2021 edition of its State of eCommerce App Marketing report, outlining key global trends to guide marketers in building a mobile-first experience that will drive engagement and sales for the upcoming holiday season.

Having analysed over 750 million app installs across 7250 apps, and 3 billion remarketing conversions across Africa, Middle East and Europe (EMEA), the report found that the African mobile app market continues to show strong growth with more people accessing goods and services online than ever before.

This year, retail apps are already approaching peak usage levels from the 2020 holiday season, so the eCommerce industry is entering the last quarter of 2021 with an elevated baseline. With eCommerce installs increasing 55% on Android and 32% on iOS in 2021, and consumer spend climbing 55% overall, the fourth quarter holiday season is expected to be record-breaking.

“With the holiday shopping season around the corner, retail brands should be prioritising mobile, and mobile apps, as part of their strategy,” said Daniel Junowicz, the Regional VP for EMEA and Strategic Projects, at AppsFlyer, AppsFlyer. “Marketers should look at optimising the overall user experience, including the transition from mobile web to app. In addition, deep linking can be used to ensure customers reach their intended destination within a mobile app smoothly and contextually. If last year is anything to go by, marketers that get their mobile app strategy right will see significant revenue and acquisition growth.”

Key Africa Insights:

  • ecommerce installs remained steady throughout 2020 but have already risen by 16% in 2021 (First Quarter vs Second Quarter)

  • iOS is showing particularly strong growth, with a 33% increase in the same time frame. By comparison, retail app installs on Android haven’t changed.

  • Non-organic installs dropped 26% at the start of the pandemic: Marketers throughout the region were cautious when it came to spending budget at the start of the pandemic. Non-organic installs dropped by 26% between first quarter of 2020 (pre-pandemic) and second quarter of 2020 (as the pandemic hit). However, this level of cautiousness was short-lived, with non-organic installs rising by 18% in the third quarter. They’ve remained steady ever since.

  • Remarketing: The 2020 holiday season saw heavy usage of remarketing as marketers looked to capitalise on key shopping periods. Between the third quarter and the fourth quarter of 2020, there was a 22% lift in remarketing conversion rates. This reached nearly 40% when comparing October to November.

  • In many iOS dominant regions, remarketing took a hit following the loss of IDFA as part of Apple’s update to iOS 14, but given Android’s dominance in sub-Saharan Africa this hasn’t been felt.

  • In-app purchases increase 55% over 2020: Consumer spend fell by 50% at the start of the pandemic – between March and April – likely due to economic uncertainty as a result of lockdowns. However, as it became clear that consumers would need to adapt to digital methods of shopping in the absence of physical stores, spending quickly recovered. Indeed, between April and May 2020 there was a 256% rise in overall spending in retail apps! Overall there was a 55% increase in consumer spending in apps in 2020.

  • Unsurprisingly, spending in 2020 peaked in November, coinciding with Black Friday and the lead-up to Christmas. As a result, between the third quarter and the fourth quarter, there was a 60% uplift. This increase in spend has carried through to 2021. If we compare the first half of 2020 with the first half of 2021, we see a 65% increase in spending.

The State of eCommerce App Marketing, 2021 Edition from AppsFlyer is an anonymous aggregate of proprietary global data from 4.5 billion app installs from 650 apps and 25 billion remarketing conversions. Of this, 750 million app installs across 250 apps, with 3 billion remarketing conversions were specific to the EMEA region.


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