Mobile app introduction and online and offline purchases and product returns

Unnati Narang, Venkatesh Shankar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How do a retailer’s mobile app adopters differ from nonadopters in their shopping outcomes, such as online and offline purchases and product returns? In this paper, we model the relationship between a retailer’s mobile app launch and the frequency, quantity, and monetary value of purchases in its online and offline channels, as well as product returns. We leverage data on a large retailer’s launch of a mobile app and use a difference-in-differences approach. Our results show that app adopters buy 33% more frequently, buy 34% more items, and spend 37% more than non-adopters in the period after app introduction. At the same time, they return 35% more frequently, 35% more items, and 41% more in dollar value. Combined, app adopters spend 36% more in net monetary value. Furthermore, app adopters’ purchases in both the online and offline channels increase after app launch. The time, location, and features of app use provide descriptive evidence of how the app aids shopping in other channels. App-linked shoppers (those who make a purchase within 48 hours of app use) use the app when they are close to the store of purchase and access the app for loyalty rewards, product details, and notifications. These insights offer important substantive implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-772
Number of pages17
JournalMarketing Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Channels
  • Difference-in-differences
  • Mobile apps
  • Mobile marketing
  • Returns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing

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