Apple is launching a new Shopping category on the Apple App Store, creating a new section specially reserved for e-commerce apps in time for the holiday shopping rush.
The new category will be visible to all iOS users starting Nov. 5, just ahead of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping sprees in the U.S. on Nov. 27 and Nov. 30, and Nov. 11's Single's Day, the Chinese version of Black Friday.
Major retailers' apps, such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Target and Walmart's e-commerce apps, will be included in the new category, as well as coupon apps such as Groupon, RetailMeNot and Shopular. Other related shopping apps, such as price comparison app ShopSavvy, BuyVia and Purchx, and deals apps such as LivingSocial and Shopkick, will also be included.
The development should be beneficial for both shoppers and developers. As menswear shopping app JackThreads' Ryan McIntyre says, e-commerce apps getting their own category should give these apps more visibility, since many JackThreads users came across the app by searching on the App Store.
Currently, e-commerce apps are all lumped together into a more general Lifestyle category, but the mobile shopping industry has grown significant enough that Apple has decided these apps warrant their own category to help mobile shoppers find them more easily on the App Store.
Shopping is proving to be the fastest growing segment of the mobile app industry. In January, Yahoo-owned mobile analytics firm Flurry reported that mobile shopping grew by 174 percent in 2014. More recently, Google unveiled a report showing the growing role of mobile in consumers' shopping experience. The report says more and more consumers prefer to use their mobile devices for shopping during their free time instead of traditionally camping outside retail stores to get ahead of everyone.
"This holiday season, shopping moments will replace marathons," says Matt Lawson, director of performance ads marketing at Google. "Rather than rely on day-long mall marathons Black Friday weekend, shoppers are now turning to their mobile phones at hundreds of micro-moments throughout the day, all season long."
Google says some 54 percent of consumers plan to do their holiday shopping during their free time, such as during breakfast or while commuting on a train, making the existence of mobile shopping apps even more important for users.