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2014 was the year that retail began to truly embrace mobile. Strong usage growth for shopping as well as utilities, messaging and productivity apps underscored how consumers are integrating apps into their day-to-day lives.

Using data from some of our retail clients, we’ve seen a marked increase in mobile app usage for shopping during the Christmas period of 2014 compared to 2013.

We report a 40% increase in iPhone, Android and iPad app transactions between 21st of November 2014 and the 4th of January 2015 compared to the same time period the previous year.

Delving deeper into our figures, NN4M saw a 250% increase in Android app sales and a 37% increase in iPhone app sales over the same shopping period.

These statistics correspond with industry data from Flurry and comScore that shows more purchases were made through mobile apps over the Christmas shopping period than ever before. Flurry Analytics’ research shows that the shopping category increased by 220% on Android alone. According to data from comScore, Target saw 68% of time spent via mobile in 2014 take place in app vs. the mobile web, up from 21% in 2013.

When comparing sales overall for 2014 compared to 2013, NN4M found that Android showed by far the strongest growth with a 206% increase in like-for-like sales, while iPhone grew by 67% and iPad grew by 58%.

This unprecedented growth in the popularity of shopping apps highlights the opportunity for retailers to connect further with their customers and engage with them both in and out of store. Additionally, the nature of m-commerce enables brands to take advantage of spontaneous buying in a way that e-commerce cannot.

The growth in shopping app usage has been driven by the higher quality apps released last year. Retailers are realising that they can’t just shrink their website down to fit a mobile screen and call it a day. More and more, brands are creating a uniquely mobile experience that better engages customers, facilitating increased app usage.

“Retailers should stampede to get their apps on people’s devices and then use loyalty and smart notifications to continuously engage their customers,”

– Simon Khalaf, Yahoo’s Vice President of Flurry Products.

Brands that do not yet have a native mobile app are missing out on a unique opportunity to connect with their customers and drive sales. We expect 2015 to be even more mobile-driven.