Confirming earlier reports, Apple today is debuting a new category to its App Store that will help consumers better locate mobile shopping applications. The “Shopping” category will be available worldwide, and will feature apps that span across omni-channel, auctions, price comparison, product reviews and more. These applications were previously listed in the App Store’s “Lifestyle” section, which made them more difficult to surface, as they were listed alongside a wide range of applications, including dating apps, journals, smart home application, real estate and home improvement apps, nightlife apps, wedding apps and more.
Now those that enable commerce will get their own section – which could have the potential to boost discoverability, downloads, and sales for App Store developers as well as larger businesses like Amazon, Walmart and Groupon, who develop mobile shopping apps. Plus, because it removes a huge chunk of apps from the Lifetstyle category, its launch will also impact the Top Charts and rankings of those apps remaining in that section.
The new Shopping category will also help spotlight those apps that have adopted Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile payments technology that allows iPhone owners to store their credit and debit cards on file within a mobile wallet. These cards can then be used with Touch ID to pay for purchases in retail stores at NFC-based payment terminals, as well as in mobile applications.
Launched just over a year ago, retailers and developers are already seeing Apple Pay’s impact, including a more than 2x increase in checkout rates.
The technology addresses what had been before a serious issue with regard to mobile commerce – abandoned carts and failed conversions. While consumers before may have enjoyed browsing on mobile, checkout was often too frustrating to manage on the small screen, where retailers required users to enter names, addresses, and type in credit card information. With Apple Pay, users can instead just pay with a touch.
A number of top apps already support Apple Pay, including, of course, the Apple Store, but also Best Buy, the Disney Store, Etsy, Everlane, Gilt, Groupon, Hautelook, JackThreads, Kohl’s, Instacart, Nordstrom, Pinterest, Priceline, Sephora, Staples, Starbucks, Target, Uber, Walgreens, Zappo’s, Zulily and others. In total, there are thousands of apps that have integrated Apple Pay technology, but not all may be relocated to the shopping category.
The additional category comes at a time when Apple has seen significant growth in the e-commerce category, and developers similarly report seeing increasing engagement when it comes to consumers who choose to shop via their mobile devices. Much of that shopping activity that used take place via a desktop browser now occurs in-app.
But the new category won’t be limited to only those apps where you shop for items, place them in a cart, and then checkout. It will also broadly include apps focused on helping shoppers find deals, stay tuned into the latest trends, find coupons, check pricing, read product reviews, and more.
The timing of the new category’s rollout is desirable for both Apple, which takes a small cut of Apple Pay transactions, and developers, as the U.S. is heading into the holiday shopping season. This year, online holiday sales are poised to break record numbers, reaching $83 billion according to some early estimates. In addition, mobile transactions will play a larger role this year, driving the majority of visits for the first time ever on Thanksgiving Day.
Apple is celebrating the launch of the new category with a couple of featured collections of shopping apps. One, “Save While You Shop,” offers deals, discounts, and other special features for customers. The other, “Shop for Everything,” will include apps from across a variety of themes, like “Chic,” “Dapper,” “Gifts,” “Rugged,” “Play Dates,” “Groceries,” and more – a grouping that will allow a diverse range of apps to receive a top position.
At launch, the following promotions will be available in the “Save While You Shop” group:
- Everlane: Through 11/12, applicable mobile app orders will receive a complimentary product from Everlane.
- Ebates: Earn extra cash back at 100+ stores when shopping in-app. Merchants include: LivingSocial, HSN, Walmart, UGG, Saks, Banana Republic, Overstock, Lancome, Avon, Ralph Lauren and Shoe Buy.
- GILT: Early access on mobile for top sales throughout week to celebrate Shopping category launch. Get early access to top brand sales, i.e. Marc by Marc, Oliver Peoples, J Brand and more.
- Zappos: Place an order in-app and receive free 1-day shipping + access exclusive products only on the app. Brands will include: UGG, Frye, North Face, Columbia, Patagonia, UA, TOMS, Nike, Converse and Sam Edelman.
- Nordstrom: Free gift with $100 or more spent in app.
- MikMak: Get a head start on your New Year resolution to have the most stylish office. Each day, starting tomorrow through November 12, the app will feature the coolest office minimercials for users to watch and buy. Each day there will be a special promotion ($ off, % off, free shipping) on these office products using the new prize logic — the more you watch, the bigger the prize!
- Groupon: Up to 75% off select Beauty and Apparel items. Rather than featuring a single deal at a time, the in-app messages will link customers to the full list of deals.
- Harry’s – Shop Shave Supplies: Free 4oz After Shave Moisturizer with Any Purchase.
- Cartwheel by Target: The best way to save at Target. A new toy 50% off every day, 20% off All Women’s Apparel through 11/7, 40% off Thanksgiving sides (food) 11/12.
- REI: Through November 12, iOS customers will get $20 off their order of $100 or more.
- Walgreens: Users will be granted a 30% off all photo orders made in the app from the launch of the promo through the end of the month.
- Wondermall: Introducing the Mall wide loyalty program. Users will earn 1-5 WonderPoints for every dollar spent in the mall and then can use these WonderPoints to get anything from the mall for free.