Is May the new November for e-commerce? An analysis of installs, sessions, and in-app revenue
Over the last few years, the way we shop has fundamentally changed; from where we turn to discover new brands and products to when we purchase them. May is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative months for the e-commerce vertical, following November with its Black Friday sales and pre-Christmas rush. In 2021, May saw more shoppers take advantage of discounts than any other month of the year except November. This is likely the result or May’s many global holidays that appeal to specific communities, including Mother's Day, Memorial Day, and Eid al-Fitr.
We took a look at global installs, sessions, and in-app revenue of e-commerce 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—and November.
Shoppers broke in-app spending records in May 2021
May 2021 was the biggest month ever tracked by Adjust for e-commerce in-app revenue. The month came in 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%.
A good month for e-commerce apps
During the COVID-19 pandemic's peak in May 2020, global installs of e-commerce apps were 10% higher than the yearly average. Installs slowed down somewhat by May 2021, but still came in just above the yearly average. This could be due to lifted lockdown and social distancing restrictions in many markets, as consumers were able to venture out of their homes to shop. Notably however, installs in May 2021 surpassed installs in November 2020 with an increase of 4%.
This May was the best month for e-commerce apps so far in 2022, 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 e-commerce apps have been growing steadily year-on-year every May. Compared to 2019, installs rose 27% in May 2020—for May 2021 and 2021, they grew another 3% and 1% respectively.
More time spent shopping on mobile
Compared to the yearly averages, global sessions of e-commerce apps grew by 7% in May 2020 and 1% in May 2021. The smaller boost seen last year could also be reflective of users shifting spend toward restaurants and travel, where upticks were seen. In May 2022, however, sessions were 3% higher than the 2022 average so far and 11% higher than the 2021 average, indicating a normalization of user behavior and a consistent trend for May performance.
As people spent more time at home and on their smartphones overall during May 2020, sessions for e-commerce apps saw a massive boost of 65% compared to May 2019. Sessions climbed another 8% and 11% in May 2021 and 2022, respectively.
While session lengths of e-commerce apps in May have been lower than the yearly averages, they have consistently increased year-on-year. 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, a number which represents a huge opportunity for further monetization and user incentivization. It’s worth noting that it’s common to see session lengths decrease as session numbers go up. So while May is performing below the yearly average, it’s proving to be a high traffic period, meaning concern should be minimal, especially considering that increase for the month itself and the high revenue figures reported.
It will be interesting to see how e-commerce apps perform during the 2022 holiday season and how May stacks up against November. With 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 and increase revenue.
For more insights on e-commerce apps and trends shaping the mobile app industry, check out our latest Mobile App Trends Report 2022: A global benchmark of app performance.