May Was a Lucrative Month for E-Commerce Retailers — Here’s Why

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Forget back-to-school shopping in the fall or the pre-Christmas rush in December. New research from the mobile measurement company Adjust shows that May is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative months for m-commerce retailers. 

Examining global installs, sessions, and in-app revenue of e-commerce apps from May 2020 to 2022, Adjust was able to measure year-over-year growth and assess how that data measured up against yearly averages.

The result?

Shoppers broke in-app spending records in May 2022, and it wasn’t just a one-off occurrence. In-app spending was higher in May 2021 and May 2020, as well. In-app spending was 9% higher in May 2021 than November 2021, and 18% higher than the yearly average.

May has also been the best month for e-commerce apps so far this year, with installs 5% higher than the year’s current average and 2% more than last year’s average.

“Following November’s Black Friday sales and the pre-Christmas rush, May is quickly emerging as one of the most profitable months for the e-commerce vertical,” says Greg Wang, Head of Sales, North America at Adjust. 

Compared to May 2020, which was already a huge month for e-commerce, in-app revenue in May 2022 climbed by an enormous 112%. 

According to Adjust data, the average session length for an e-commerce app in May 2021 was 10.2 minutes, but that jumped to 11.1 minutes in May 2022. The nearly one-minute increase represents a huge opportunity for retailers to monetize their apps.

While session lengths of e-commerce apps in May have been lower than the yearly averages, they have consistently increased year-on-year.

Global installs of e-commerce apps were 10% higher than the yearly average during the Covid-19 peak in May 2020, while May 2021 installs surpassed installs in November 2020 with an increase of 4%.

“At the pandemic’s beginning, mobile shopping saw a huge surge when consumers had little choice,” Wang says. “Now, despite the reopening of brick-and-mortar stores, spending on online channels continues to rise because consumers enjoy the convenience that e-commerce offers.”

May sales have begun to rival November’s, thanks in part to holidays like Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and Eid al- Fitr all falling during the month.

Adjust researchers found that on Mother’s Day 2021, global installs of shopping apps were 25% higher than the yearly average, and sessions were up by 7%. Similarly, one week before Eid al-Fitr, on May 5, 2021, revenue events for e-commerce apps peaked. Wang attributes the spike to Eid al-Fitr, and consumers buying last-minute presents and taking advantage of exclusive discounts.

To capitalize on this seasonal trend and navigate the highly-competitive space of m-commerce, Wang says retailers should focus on creating convenient and seamless cross-device experiences and incentivizing mobile users. He says it’s also crucial for marketers to understand the various holidays and observances that take place throughout the year, and to track how these holidays impact their own users’ purchasing preferences.

“Apps in all verticals can offer discounts and deals on seasonal sale items to drive installs, boost engagement and maximize revenue,” he says.

One way Wang suggests that brands find new high-quality users is by diversifying the number of networks their apps work with. For example, retailers can develop strategies for personalization, gamification, and conversational AI to entice users to open their mobile shopping apps.

Retailers with e-commerce apps should also consider investing in different channels, like CTV, which provides a “massive opportunity” for e-commerce brands, and YouTube, which is actively working to make its own ads product more e-commerce-friendly by inviting users to shop on brand websites and apps from their mobile devices without disrupting viewing sessions.

“Despite much of the world opening back up, usage of e-commerce apps has not slowed down. In the last two years, installs and sessions for e-commerce apps peaked during May, then dropped but jumped again during November with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Pre-Christmas sales,” Wang says. “Following this trend, we expect e-commerce apps to break another record this year, mainly because this might be the first holiday season without any restrictions or social distancing rules.”

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.