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Losing our App-etite

The app stack appears stalled

Up and to the right was the defining trait of ecommerce for years, particularly for traffic and GMV. Then, the slog of 2022 revealed soft spots across commerce that expanded through the year like a bruised apple.

Meanwhile - the app stack appeared immune to the challenges… until it wasn’t.

App growth continued to ascend  - up and to the right, as brands continued to integrate 3rd party tech across the site. App growth surged 19% YoY, with PDPs carrying the most tech, rising from 41 to a peak of 48 in November 2022.

And then, growth stalled.

Four months later, in March of 2023, the stack remained stuck on 48 apps.

During the recent ‘The Great eCommerce 3rd party debate,’ a panel of ecommerce industrialists revealed an interesting perspective:

73% said ‘yes, eCommerce has grown too reliant on 3rd party apps’...

…. while

65% also said they would add to the stack this year.

So, it appears that we’re both reliant on 3rd parties AND plan to continue this reliance. Yes, an ‘AND’ here is ok.

Clearly, 3rd parties are entrenched and play a massive role in eCommerce.

What is less spoken of, though, is that the continued adoption of best-of-breed 3rd party apps has set the stage for the rise of composable commerce.

We’ve been composing commerce experiences for years. Now, brands are moving to deconstruct more of the platform experience - pillars of the journey.

And those commerce objects and components often don’t show up as 3rd party apps (per their architecture).

So, while the prevailing industry narrative AND a stalled stack leads us to believe that we’re seeing a rationalization of software solutions, we shouldn’t dismiss the potential that platform-level changes may be contributing to a slow down in 3rd party apps.

Is there a massive consolidation ahead? Will we re-bundle the commerce experience? With established or aspiring platforms pushing feature parity with frenemies across the ecosystem, there is some vendor-side interest. However, the app adoption does not yet point to a consolidation story. And,  there is little evidence to suggest that consolidation’s convenience will outweigh the promise of conversion optimization, traffic growth, or efficiency gains brought on by more best-in-class 3rd parties.

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