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October 21, 2022

How to Build an E-commerce App: A Complete Guide for 2023

If you want to embark on e-commerce mobile application development, check out the article to find out more about trends, features, and costs.

Dasha Rizoy

Head of Business Development

E-commerce is thriving. Each year, more and more people buy all kinds of goods online instead of going to physical stores. According to Shopify, by 2023, online sales will reach $6.17 trillion(!) accounting for around 22% of total retail sales. The pandemic played a huge role in accelerating the digitalization of sales, so now it’s important for vendors to have decent online representation.

One of the most prominent trends in e-commerce is the growth of mobile sales (or m-commerce). There are around 16 billion mobile devices in the world, and the number will only continue to grow.

E-commerce App Market Stats
Source: Statista

Users love mobile e-commerce. 76% of people who shop via mobile devices claim it saves their time. However, only 12% of them have a satisfying user experience on mobile web solutions. To provide your customers with rich functionality that they will find convenient to use, you can invest in e-commerce mobile app development.

But how to build an app? How to make sure it will be a success? How to compete with those who are already up and running? In this article, we will answer these questions and tell you more about the e-commerce application development process, must-have features, and m-commerce trends.

What Is an E-commerce Mobile App?

E-commerce stands for electronic commerce and means the trading of goods on online services like marketplaces or official brand websites. You become a part of e-commerce when you buy or sell products over the Internet and perform electronic transactions.

Mobile e-commerce app is one of the ways to do it. You install the necessary application on your iOS or Android device and buy goods there. The main difference among e-commerce web platforms here is that a mobile app will provide you with a better user experience. It will take into account the specifics of each mobile platform and will work faster and smoother.

If you build an e-commerce app, you will acquire a competitive advantage and build greater relationships with your customers. More advantages to come.

Why Does Your Business Need an E-commerce Mobile App?

If you are still questioning the decision to create an e-commerce app, here are more reasons why developing a mobile app will be a good way for your business to evolve.

Reasons to create an e-commerce app
  • Huge mobile usage

We have already mentioned the number of mobile devices existing in the world. The number is rising each year along with the number of unique mobile users. DataReportal claims that there are currently 5.22 billion unique mobile phone users (which is around 66% of the world population). A mobile commerce app opens the opportunity to potentially reach all of them, depending on what and how you want to sell.

  • Better user experience

A lot of web e-commerce solutions suffer when used on mobile browsers. 48% of consumers find the desktop more convenient and enjoyable when it comes to e-commerce mobile websites. Also, nine out of ten buyers believe that the shopping experience via mobile can be upgraded. E-commerce mobile apps can help you do that.

  • Reaching customers

Mobile apps have one great advantage when it comes to grabbing users’ attention—push notifications. They create another channel for attracting customers where you can notify them about the most recent discounts, share personalized recommendations or promo codes, and remind them about the goods in their cart.

  • User behavior changes

We have already mentioned that COVID-19 changed the way commerce works. Vivek Pandya, Adobe’s Digital Insights Manager, told Forbes that the current level of e-commerce got four to six years ahead of pre-pandemic predictions. People are more likely to buy online today, so e-commerce app development is a good opportunity to help them.

  • Accessibility

Mobile apps are responsible for an increase in impulse buying. There is no need to go to a physical store and stand in line, as well as no need to wait for a website to finally load on your mobile device. It takes just a few taps to buy what you want, so the revenue of your business will increase. 

E-commerce App Types

Before the full-scale development process starts, you need to decide what business model to choose. If you already have a website and want to go mobile, it won’t be a question for you. But if you are a startup that wants to enter the market with a new service, then the following information will be useful.

There are four main types of e-commerce apps according to business models: business-to-consumer (B2C), business-to-business (B2B), consumer-to-business (C2B), and consumer-to-consumer (C2C).

Types of e-commerce apps

B2C E-commerce App

The simplest and the most popular option. In a nutshell, products and services are bought by regular customers from a variety of shops and stores. Consumers can visit product pages, see the necessary characteristics and descriptions, add goods to the cart, and make payments. Such a service can be owned by one store or be a marketplace that gathers many businesses on its platform.

Examples: Amazon, Walmart

B2B E-commerce App

These apps are meant to connect businesses that sell goods and services with businesses that are willing to buy them. Usually, it’s companies selling raw materials or equipment and manufacturers that use them to produce other products. These platforms should be able to proceed with huge transactions and a large volume of sales

Examples: Amazon Business, Alibaba

C2B E-commerce App

It’s not the most popular niche, but such solutions still have their audience. Businesses can be in need of specific products like design, content writing, voiceover, link-building, and more. In this case, if a business doesn’t want to hire a specialist full-time or it’s a single time they need the services, they can use a C2B e-commerce app.

Examples: Upwork, Fiverr

C2C E-commerce App

The name speaks for itself. Consumers exchange goods and services among themselves. C2C apps promote these types of sales and can help create a strong and inspired community.

Examples: eBay, Nextdoor, Etsy

In-App Features for E-commerce Mobile App

Before you begin the main process of mobile commerce app development, you need to decide what exactly your users will see inside your application. There are plenty of apps on the market, so users already have established certain expectations from a new solution. The following is the list of functionalities found in any successful mobile app for e-commerce.

E-commerce App Features

Data security

Since your app is going to deal with users’ payments and payment information, you should have top-level data security. Any payment information like a credit card, bank account, or digital wallet is sensitive and may be abused by criminals. So when your user trusts you with their payment info, you must take it seriously.

Registration and user profile

Registration should be simple and clear. You can implement the sign-up via email, phone number, or social media accounts, but e-commerce services do not commonly use the last option.

A user profile feature benefits both you and your customers. For you, user profiles will enhance and bring context to your analytics reports and marketing campaigns. Also, you will have more control over data protection. For users, they will have a place where they can access their order history, track deliveries, add items to a wish list or shopping cart, make safe payments, and receive personalized recommendations.

Ratings and reviews

This functionality is crucial to building a strong community and increasing the trust of your audience. Buyers should be able to leave honest feedback on the goods you sell and on the app itself. This feedback will be useful for other people who would want to download the app or buy something from you. It also will supply you with ideas to improve your quality of service.

Amazon Reviews
Source: Amazon

Alternative payment options

The more payment options you can provide to your users, the better. It will ensure your app is flexible and convenient to use. The most common options include credit cards, digital wallets like PayPal, and services like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Also, if you have physical pick-up locations, people should be able to choose the option of paying there as well.

Social integration

Offering social integrations like sharing on Instagram or Twitter will help you turn your users into your promoters. They can share products they like to their profiles or copy links to share with friends in messaging apps. This feature will attract more potential customers to your e-commerce app.

Push notifications

This feature is a part of almost every mobile app, but for e-commerce, it can be a valuable promotion tool. Besides the basic notification like delivery updates and payment status, you can notify your customers about discounts, personalized recommendations, and new items in the catalog.

Easy and fast checkout

A shopping cart is one of the most important parts of your mobile e-commerce application. Users should clearly understand how to add items to the cart (or remove them) and make an order (or cancel it). A simple checkout process will contribute greatly to the positive user experience and creating returning customers.

Wish lists

A wish list is a collection of items that a user marked as favorites. People usually plan to buy these goods, but don’t want to add them directly to the shopping cart. Wish lists help your users easily find products they like and help you to get a more detailed understanding of your audience. You can take advantage of this feature and guide them back to the app by reminding them about items on the wish list via push notifications.

Synchronization

If you have a website, you must ensure your mobile app and web solution are synchronized so users can shift from one to another to complete the order.

E-commerce Mobile Trends In 2022

Besides the required features, you can also implement more advanced ones based on mobile commerce trends. It’s a great way to maintain a competitive advantage and stay on the same page with your audience. The most recent and rising trends to consider include:

Trends of e-commerce app development

Chatbots

This technology may seem simple, but the benefits it will bring you are immense. Your business will be able to stay in touch with your customers 24/7/365 without hiring additional staff for your customer support team. Chatbots will be able to answer the questions from FAQ and resolve some simple issues. If the issue is too complex, a chatbot will redirect a customer to a live agent.

AR to visualize purchased goods

Augmented reality (or AR) appeared not that long ago but has already made a significant impact in multiple business industries, including e-commerce. If you want to stand out from the crowd, AR can save the day here. With the help of AR, you can visualize goods so users can see what to expect from them in real life. For example, IKEA has created an application that allows you to virtually place furniture in a room to see what it will look like.

One-click purchase

Until 2017, no one could really do anything using one-click payments since Amazon owned a patent on this feature. However, now it’s common to see. One-click payments are convenient and quick. There is no need to fill out all the forms anew or go through a multistep process of monetary transactions.

Big data

Big data is changing the business world, including online sales. The influence of large and complex datasets on the way e-commerce works is on the rise. With the help of big data, e-commerce on mobile can define changes in user behavior, notice emerging trends, or create new marketing campaigns. It can also provide you with valuable ideas about the development and UX/UI design processes.

Geofencing

Another interesting trend of mobile app development for e-commerce is geofencing. It’s the ability of a mobile app to show notifications about goods and services based on user location. You can set up a custom distance like “within 500 feet” and all your app users in this area will see the notification about your local marketplace.

Voice search

Voice recognition is also relatively new but this technology is steadily evolving. Voice shopping is about to reach $40 billion in the US and this number is just the beginning. Having the option to speak rather than tap on a small phone keyboard seems very appealing to users.

Integration of apps with wearables

Besides mobile phones and tablets, wearable devices like smartwatches are also getting a piece of the pie. More people buy wearables making them a valuable channel for businesses to communicate with the audience. This task may seem to be quite a challenge since wearables don’t have a universal standard, but the opportunity is worth a try.

10 Steps for How to Build an E-commerce App

Now that we have defined what to expect from an e-commerce solution, we can talk about the way we are going to implement it. Without a clear and well-organized process, the team won’t have a vision of the end product and can easily get lost or distracted. Besides, you won’t be able to calculate the exact time and budget needed to finish the app.

To minimize the risks, here are the necessary steps in e-commerce app development you need to take:

1. Market research

Before any coding or significant design processes start, you need to gather as much information about the market as possible. Define your niche and target audience and see what is already available for users. Conduct a survey or make a questionnaire to ask your potential users directly about their desires and pain points. Evaluate your competitors and define how your offer can stand out. All this data will make a solid base for your future mobile commerce solution.

2. Identify goals

When you have collected the necessary information from the previous step, it’s time to analyze it and set the goals for your project. To do this, you need to answer several important questions:

  • What am I selling and to whom?

  • What pain points of my target audience am I trying to solve?

  • How can I measure the app’s success?

The answers to these questions will be reflected in your e-commerce application’s user experience, design, and functionality.

3. Choose the right platform

There are two main ways you can develop a mobile e-commerce app: native or cross-platform development.

Native development means creating an app that will function only on one platform (iOS or Android). If you want to cover both platforms with this approach, you will have to create two separate apps. Native apps usually work with fewer bugs, but they are more expensive to develop.

Cross-platform development means you build an app that will use one codebase to function on both platforms. This way is usually cheaper but will have more issues with bug-fixing and design layouts.

The choice here will depend on your goals and target audience.

4. Describe the feature set

We have already mentioned the must-haves for an e-commerce application and some trendy features to consider. Now, you need to prioritize them and decide what will be released in the first version and what to add with later updates.

5. Hire the team

Here is an approximate team composition for an e-commerce app:

  • Project manager

  • Business analyst

  • UX/UI designer

  • Software engineers (backend, frontend)

  • QA engineers

  • Marketing specialist

  • Database specialist

You can hire them all as an in-house team or partner with a software development agency to complete your tasks. Both approaches have their pros and cons, so the decision is yours to make.

6. Select tech stack

Then, your team will help you define the necessary set of technologies to complete your app. The approximate list can look like this:

Android

  • Programming languages: Java, Kotlin

  • App development tools: Android Studio

  • Database: SQLite, Realm

  • Communication: Twilio, PubNub

  • Search: Elasticsearch

  • Deep linking: Branch, Firebase

  • Payment gateway: Stripe, Braintree, PayPal

iOS

  • Programming Language: Swift

  • App development tools: XCode, AppCode

  • Database: SQLite, Realm

  • Communication: Twilio, PubNub

  • Search: Elasticsearch

  • Deep linking: Branch, Firebase

  • Payment gateway: Stripe, Braintree, PayPal

7. UX/UI Design

E-commerce app design should be simple yet provide users with all they need to make a purchase. For example, users should be able to zoom product images with screen touches. Also, the search bar and shopping cart buttons should be clearly visible. It’s better to follow the layouts that are already established and familiar to users than to create something new and confusing.

8. Create an MVP

The best way to develop a good e-commerce app is to start with a minimum viable product. It’s the very first version of your solution that includes only top-priority features. This stage will allow you to understand if the audience needs what you are offering and if they have something in mind that you hadn’t thought of.

9. Quality assurance and release

Now, test, test, and test again. You will need to make sure your app has as few bugs as possible before the release. You can use both manual and automated testing to ensure the stable and fast work of your app.

10. Post-release support

When the app is up and running, the job is not finished. Now, you should pay attention to post-launch support. It includes marketing, bug-fixing, gathering and analyzing real user feedback, and updating your app with more features.

E-commerce App Development Cost

It’s hard to tell right away what the final e-commerce application development cost will be. It will depend on a lot of factors like:

  • The team’s location

  • Hourly rate

  • Required tech stack

  • Desired list of features

  • Launch platforms

Also, different features require a different number of hours to implement. Here are some examples of time estimates for e-commerce app features (one platform only):

FeaturesHours
Sign up/Sign in70-90
User profile120-160
Payment gateway120-160
Checkout150-200
Social integrations50-70
Chatbots80-160

Based on our experience, the mobile commerce development services will cost you from $30,000 to $45,000 and more depending on the previously mentioned factors.

Conclusion

The commerce industry becomes more and more digitalized every minute. People buy goods and services online since it’s a convenient way to get what they need without wasting time going to the store and standing in long lines. So e-commerce mobile application development is a fruitful opportunity for your business to thrive.

However, the market competition is pretty tight so you need to give users a unique offering and keep the buying process as easy to navigate as possible. We hope our article has completely formed your vision of what your mobile commerce app should look like in order to succeed.

If you want to know more about e-commerce mobile app development services or are looking for a partner to start your project, feel free to drop us a line. We will arrange a call and discuss your idea in detail.

🛒 What is e-commerce?

E-commerce stands for electronic commerce and means the trading of goods on online platforms like marketplaces or official brand websites.

🛒 How can a mobile app benefit my e-commerce business?

You will be able to provide a better user experience and reach more potential customers, thus increasing your income.

🛒 What steps do I need to complete to create an e-commerce app?

You will need to conduct market research, identify goals, choose the right platform, describe the feature set, hire the team, select tech stack, create UX/UI design, build an MVP, run some tests, release, and provide substantial post-release support.

🛒 How much does it cost to create an e-commerce app?

Speaking about e-commerce on mobile, the average development price will vary from $30,000 to $45,000 and more.

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