Retail apps are the bottomless scroll feed of the online shopping world…
- Gen Z and Millennials are still regularly shopping online more than in-person
- Retail apps are especially popular for online-only marketplaces like Amazon and Shein
- Young consumers are not only using shopping apps for fast fashion, but secondhand platforms, too
Gen Z and Millennials love to shop, that much is easy to say. They get a thrill from a good buy, but how they shop for it is often changing. These online generations had no problem becoming virtual shoppers when the pandemic hit—they’re the pros of online shopping, and make #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt and #WhatIOrderedWhatIGot videos of their best finds within the endless scroll of an online store. Even as restrictions on in-person activities ease and they have the choice to return to the shops, they’ve maintained their love for shopping on their devices.
In our Shopping and Retail Report, YPulse asked 13-39-year-olds whether they prefer to shop in-person or online. The majority voted to shop IRL, but a large portion are still happy to stay home, as nearly 40% say they prefer to do their shopping virtually. And the reality is that, despite their preference, they’re still shopping online slightly more—73% say they regularly shop online versus 68% who regularly shop in person.
And of course, as with everything, they’re doing it on their phones. Retail apps provide easy access to their favorite shops in a format more seamless than a browser. According to YPulse survey data, 43% of 13-39-year-olds say they use shopping apps on a weekly basis (one in 10 are doing it on the daily). YPulse asked the young people who say they use mobile retail apps exactly which ones they’re using. As an open-ended question, they had the opportunity to name any app they want, and these were their top responses:
The Top 10 Mobile Retail Apps They’re Using
The majority of Gen Z and Millennials’ top-used retail apps are online-only stores
A majority of the mobile retail apps Gen Z and Millennials use are stores they can only access online. Seven of their top 10 mobile retail apps are fully-virtual marketplaces, which are clearly thriving with the option of a mobile retail app rather than just a website to access in a browser.
Online shopping giant Amazon tops their list, which is unsurprising given that it’s their favorite place to shop in general. On TikTok, #AmazonFinds has 24.5 billion views, and is full of videos promoting different items with screenshots of their listing within the app. This goes to show how the mobile app can function almost the same as the scroll of social media, except purchasing only takes one click.
Walmart, Target, and Nike have also made their top choices, despite the fact that young consumers could be going to these stores in person. One reason they may still be choosing to shop from their apps is the around-the-clock accessibility—which is the top reason young consumers tell YPulse they choose online shopping over in-person.
SHEIN continues to break into high rankings for shopping
Whenever YPulse asks Gen Z and Millennials about shopping, their answers just about always include SHEIN. In our most recent Shopping and Retail report, we asked their favorite place to buy clothing (thinking of the store or site where they actually most like to purchase clothing), and SHEIN came in third, just below Walmart and Amazon. Much like Amazon, SHEIN carries a huge online catalog, making it easy to shop constantly, and always find something new.
As YPulse’s Fits For The Feed report showed, the affordable, always-updating nature of SHEIN is what leads trends like #SHEINHaul to have 6.2 billion views on TikTok, where young people act as shopping guides for one another. Being the leaders of all things online, the constantly growing support for SHEIN from young consumers could very well be behind the app becoming the most-downloaded shopping app of 2022.
They’re split between fast fashion shops and secondhand/small biz
Though it may appear fast fashion retailers are the only ones dominating online shopping, Gen Z and Millennials favs still show a penchant for secondhand- and small-business-shopping. Etsy (home to many small, handmade businesses) beats out online retailers like AliExpress and Wish when it comes to their mobile app. Etsy is especially popular with LGBTQ+ consumers and 18-24-year-old Millennial females.
Platforms like eBay and Poshmark are popular for young consumers as YPulse survey data shows secondhand clothing / accessories are the most popular eco-friendly item the younger gens are buying. They aren’t just shoppers, though, they’re sellers, too—eBay’s annual Recommerce Report shows 32% of new sellers on the platform are Gen Z.
YPulse paid users can access the full Shopping and Retail report and data here.
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