Case Study: How Branch Helps Boxed Wholesale Master Cross-Platform Acquisition and Retention

A leading commerce company with a unique mobile-first, app-first strategy, Boxed Wholesale has leveraged Branch as the foundation of their cross-platform acquisition and retention strategies. In response to their continued investment in their native app, Boxed has seen 54% more mobile revenue as a business, compared to merely offering a mobile web experience.


Mobile web and native app: Do the apps justify the costs?

For most companies, the existential question continues to be whether native apps are worthwhile investments. There are many costs associated with building out and maintaining native apps for Android and iOS. In addition, from a user perspective, downloading an app remains a tough barrier, if you’re simply trying to drive conversions. In fact, Boxed faced this exact question at the company’s 2013 inception.

As a platform, mobile was unquestionably a critical aspect of Boxed’s go-to-market strategy, but going to market with a mobile website would have been faster than building a native mobile app, and customer acquisition might have been lower-cost. The founders, with backgrounds in mobile gaming, decided that a strategy centered around the native app experience was the best long-term strategy. Then, as eventual supplements, the Boxed team built fully-functional mobile and desktop sites.

Boxed’s choice of investing in native apps back in 2013 has paid—and will continue to pay—extraordinary dividends, especially compared to a hypothetical version of Boxed instead focused on the mobile web. Here are some of the notable impacts that prioritizing the native app has had on Boxed:

  1. Conversion rates are 90% higher in-app than on mobile web, leading to 54% more mobile revenue than if Boxed were mobile web only.
  2. Overall 30-day retention is 104% higher, due to significantly higher user retention in-app.
  3. Marketing re-engagement effectiveness (conversion to purchase from campaigns) is 81% higher, since Boxed can deep link users who already have the app straight to the intended content, compared to what they’d see if they were optimized only for the mobile web.

Overall, Boxed’s significantly higher app performance—and return on investment— renders the cost trivial.


Looking past the install

One of the largest obstacles to driving growth through a native app is guiding users through the process of installing it and onboarding. The cost of acquiring a new onboarded app user is significantly higher than acquiring a new mobile web visitor, which is a common concern for most businesses. Boxed subsequently built its mobile website to reduce the cost of new user acquisition across traditional channels, since mobile web traffic is significantly cheaper.

It is important to remember that the mobile web is an earlier part of an optimized longer-term user journey that ultimately leads users to native apps. Boxed uses a variety of tools on the Branch platform to drive these mobile web users into the native app once they’re ready to convert, then uses Branch’s highly accurate deferred deep linking to personalize each first time user experience, significantly increasing the likelihood of post-install activation and retention.

For instance, consider the Branch web-to-app optimization platform. Across the bottom of all its mobile web pages, Boxed shows new users a standard sticky banner with a call to action to install the app. They’ve used Branch’s attribution analytics to A/B test the right call-to-action and graphics to ensure it’s attractive enough to click.

When a user taps this link and installs the app, Branch can deep link them to the very same page they were previously viewing, dramatically simplifying the onboarding process and increasing that user’s long term retention. This allows Boxed to convert the low-cost mobile web traffic into high-value app users.

Boxed determined that any reduction in mobile web conversions due to the sticky banner was easily recovered by the significantly higher LTV of newly-acquired app users from that channel. The likelihood of users to repeat purchase inside the native app after 30 days was 142% higher inside the app versus mobile web, making this math easy.

But how did Boxed use Branch’s Universal Email to optimize mobile retention and ultimately raise conversion to purchase rate by 133%? What else has led Boxed co-founder and CTO William Fong to claim that “Branch is a crucial part of [Boxed’s] marketing stack”? Click here to download the full case study and find out!