How to Build an eCommerce App

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Over the past quarter-century, the way in which we shop and search for information has changed dramatically. Not too long ago retail consumers made purchases only with local vendors in shopping malls and department stores and the idea of an eCommerce app was completely foreign. 

This often led to restricted choices for consumers with the vendors choosing what would and would not sell within any specific region. The advent of the internet started to change this by giving consumers access to global markets for their goods and services. This change has only continued to accelerate over the past decade with the advent of smartphones and other similar devices. 

Now consumers can browse for information and shop for items at any time or place as long as the company they are working with has an eCommerce mobile app.

What Is an eCommerce App and Why It Is Relevant to Talk About Them in 2021?

Smartphones have become a fact of life. From keeping in touch with friends and family through social media apps to finding your way from point A to point B with mapping apps, they have become an essential requirement that no-one can live without. 

Currently, in the US alone 96% of adults have access to or own a mobile phone. 81% of those same adults use a smartphone as their mobile device. If you also consider the number of devices in non-adult hands as well as that same ratio in other countries around the world, you’ll see that smartphones are here to stay. 

mobile as share of total e-commerce

For businesses looking to grow in this modern era, an eCommerce mobile app is absolutely essential to their success. In the early days of the internet, a website was the only requirement needed to market a business and its services. Today, relying only on a website is a recipe for disaster. eCommerce apps provide businesses with many more capabilities and are the perfect tool to help complement a website.

Why eCommerce Needs a Mobile App

Can a consumer make purchases through a website? Of course, they can and many businesses rely on this channel as their sole means of revenue. However, expecting a website alone to be sufficient is a massive mistake in today’s world. 

uses of e-commerce apps

Consumers today are looking for convenience and the ability to shop where and when they want. An eCommerce mobile app today is a standard that turns into requirements. helps make that dream a reality for many. For companies looking for growth and success, there are many reasons why an eCommerce app is a must-have in their strategies. Some of the primary benefits of an app are as follows:

Increased Conversion Rates 

Conversion rates between different verticals and markets vary quite widely. However, one simple fact is that across the board, eCommerce conversion rates are on the rise. For companies, this is great news as it means more sales and profits. 

e-commerce conversion rate

Artificial Intelligence Chatbots

Artificial intelligence (AI) is starting to permeate everything we do. Whether it is through smart speakers in our homes or bots when we shop, AI is here and will be with us for a long time. One area where AI makes a significant impact is in customer experience. 

AI chatbots help businesses provide a faster and more responsive service to consumers which helps improve their overall satisfaction significantly. In fact, when comparing chat, email, and phone support, chat rates the highest at 73% compared to 61% and 44% for the other two. 

customer response time

Chatbots are not only instrumental in customer service. Many businesses are using them to help direct customers to different products and services helping improve sales and overall customer loyalty.

Mobile Commerce

Mobile commerce sales are booming and only growing year on year. 2019 saw mobile commerce sales in the US account for 44.7% of all eCommerce selling activity. By the latter half of this year, that number is expected to be close to 54%. 

Extrapolated globally, the growth is nothing short of astounding and is expected to be close to 73% by the end of this year. Companies that want to grow need to embrace mCommerce apps in addition to making sure that they have a mobile-optimized website.

The data is stark and cannot be argued with. A website by itself does not simply have the same power as an eCommerce mobile app. Companies that embrace mobile apps can expect to see a close to 130% higher conversion rate which can be extremely significant for the bottom line.

e-commerce conversion funnel

The popularity of an app over a mobile website can be directly attributed to its overall look and feel. With smaller devices, inputting information on a small screen can be difficult and mobile websites only allow for limited customization. Apps on the other hand can be customized to a far greater degree improving their overall usability significantly.

Flexible Payment Options

While credit and debit still lead the charge, alternative payment options like PayPal, cryptocurrencies and more are becoming more mainstream. By accepting multiple options for payment, you can ensure that regardless of how your customers want to pay, they have the capability of doing so. Also with an eCommerce mobile app, storing payment information is simple for consumers saving time and effort and making future purchases easier. 

Voice Search

Once something is seen only in science fiction movies, voice assistants like Siri, Google, and Alexa are now commonplace. Whether it is in smart speakers in a home or on our smartphones themselves, voice search has many different applications. One area where it plays a major role is information retrieval, however, it is also used quite extensively for shopping. 

Customer Personalization

Building profiles for customers based on preferences and locations has a radical impact on their overall experience. Customers appreciate this as they get targeted information and advertisements that are based on their needs and requirements instead of a generic “one size fits all” approach. 

effects of an app's customization

From a business perspective personalization and profiles are useful too. By targeting offers to consumers, companies are much more likely to see conversions and sales.

D2C

Direct to consumer or D2C is a trend that is growing in popularity around the world. By cutting out the middle man and using an eCommerce app or website companies can communicate directly with their customers. This model helps save significant costs helping increase business profits dramatically.

d2c

Steps to Building an eCommerce App

When considering the right steps to take in your eCommerce app development journey, there are certain key areas you absolutely must cover.

Figure Out the Goals for the eCommerce App

Even before you start the process of building your eCommerce app, you need to know what success will look like. By understanding your endpoint and the measurements you will be taking, you will be better placed to direct the overall development process.

To start you want to get a baseline of your current sales flow. How much are you generating now through mobile and the web? What is your current conversion rate and what is your churn?

Depending on where you’re losing customers, you would focus your efforts differently. For example, an eCommerce mobile app can help improve your checkout process helping you increase your conversions. However, if you’re more interested in customer retention, you’d want to look at loyalty options that would change the features you’re going to be building and developing.

For Whom Are You Creating Your eCommerce App

Your next question when building an eCommerce mobile app is considering your target market. An app for a B2B consumer is likely to be quite different from one targeting a B2C consumer. Think about the demographic of your audience, what their interests are, and even if possible find out what they already use and like. Based on the answers to these questions and other similar ones, you can build an app that helps your customers achieve their desires.

Research the Competition

Like any other business offering, knowing your competition and what they are offering is just good business sense. When it comes to eCommerce app development this truism applies also. Understand how your competitors are marketing their services and who they are marketing them too. Learn how their apps work and function and try to determine which features are worth emulating.

Create Viable Functions and Stand Out Features

When you are asking yourself how to build an eCommerce app, you need to consider the features you are planning on offering to your consumers. To start out with you need to keep in mind the core functions that must be there for your users to benefit from the app. These core functions include onboarding and registration as well as a simple shopping cart with robust payment options. 

From a features perspective, once again think about who your users are and how they will use your eCommerce app. Based on your audience you might want to consider social sharing, reviews and other similar community features. Alternatively, you might want to offer wish lists or push notifications as a way of storing information and getting alerts.

Design UX/UI

The overall look and feel of your eCommerce mobile app are critical to its use and popularity. Consider your users and how they will use the app.

How your users hold the app – vertically or horizontally – will impact their thumb placement so its an area of key concern. In addition, finding information should be as simple as possible so consider menu placement and overall layout also. 

With many eCommerce apps being accessed on mobile devices, image quality is critical. If your users are unable to view the item with the clarity they are unlikely to make a purchasing decision.

Choose the Right Technology

When building an eCommerce mobile app, consider your overall budget. Progressive Web Apps or PWAs are a great option for organizations with a limited budget and lots of mobile web traffic. These mobile websites do not require a download but offer only limited customization options.

Native apps by contrast need to be downloaded from either the Apple App Store or Google Play store and are developed separately for iOS and Android apps. Native apps offer significantly more in terms of functionality and customizations and are often much faster than PWAs.

Build an MVP/POC

Whenever you build an eCommerce app, you want to first build a proof of concept (POC) or a minimum viable product (MVP). These sample apps still need to have many features that the full-fledged app would have, but they provide you, your developers, and users with an opportunity to test the overall functionality of the app. 

Some of the key features that need to be in place during an MVP stage include user-profiles and authorization to ensure that registration is seamless. You also need to make sure that a payment system is in place along with a list of items for purchase. Consider order tracking, customer service, and product review features also to make the experience as complete as possible. 

App Marketing

App marketing is crucial as it doesn’t matter how good your app is if no-one has heard of it or is going to use it. When thinking about marketing consider your target market and build a plan based on how best to reach those users. While a million-dollar advertising campaign sounds appealing, it only works if it reaches the people that are interested in your product.

eCommerce Trends in 2021

Best eCommerce Apps to Gain Inspiration From

Amazon

When thinking about eCommerce and eCommerce mobile apps, the first name that comes to many people’s minds is Amazon. This site is far and away from the number one destination for American consumers and is one of the most popular shopping sites globally.

With Amazon product listings are standardized so whether a listing is from Amazon or one of their many partners, they look the same. This helps shoppers focus on price and features instead of the seller. 

The Amazon app and its selling features are also big draws to attract more sellers to the platform. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) for example helps enable the D2C model we’ve discussed earlier where Amazon takes care of all inventory and fulfillment requirements leaving the seller to focus on sales and marketing. 

H&M

H&M pairs their eCommerce app with their mobile website helping consumers find and purchase their preferred clothing items quickly and easily. With integrated sizing guides consumers can make sure that the items they are purchasing will be suitable. In addition, through the use of an online profile, H&M helps users store personal information as well as promotional codes prior to check out.

H&M takes advantage of native app features to let shoppers find their closest store and also access coupons based on their location. 

Sephora

Sephora’s mobile app provides consumers with a different experience and includes video and scanning options. This lets consumers quickly scan bar codes to obtain information about products and also obtain access to how-to-videos.

Sephora beauty insiders get unique codes and promotions to their devices helping improve loyalty and driving additional targeted purchases based on past buying patterns. The integration of the beauty insider program helps Sephora consumers understand their reward standing at all times. In addition, with GPS integration, the app makes finding the closest Sephora store very simple.

eCommerce App Cost Estimations

The cost of an eCommerce app varies widely based on your needs and inclinations. You can expect that an MVP which includes the costs of design, coding, testing and project management will be in the range of $5,000 to $50,000. This cost could be considerably higher depending on all of the different requirements and goals you are trying to achieve.

When it comes to building a complete app, additional funds for QA need to be budgeted which could range as high as $20 000 – $30 000 or more. A complete app would require more infrastructure work and supplementary activities, but its main difference would be the number of features and presence of the secondary functionality. Other costs to consider include hardware and infrastructure, functionality, design, UI, and UX. 

Added together the average cost of an eCommerce app development project could range between $30 000 – $100 000. This broad range is very much influenced by the type of app, the complexity of its design and development as well as the versatility of the design.

How to Build an eCommerce App

Summary

For a company to succeed in business today, an eCommerce mobile app is an absolute necessity. When building and designing an app, you need to find a partner that can work with you to make your dream a reality. At NIX we can help you bring your dreams to life. 

Here is one of the best examples of our work on eCommerce projects – CarSoup – The Marketplace to Buy Or Sell Vehicles.

Our team of developers is skilled with all of the latest technologies and can help create an app that appeals to your customers from the point of view of usability and functionality. The NIX team can work with you from project inception to completion helping ensure your eCommerce app becomes a valuable addition to your portfolio. Contact us to find out how we can help you.

CogX Conference 2020: NIX exhibited at the Virtual Conference

Evgeniy is an AI Solutions Consultant with more than 10 years of experience in business consulting for the software development industry. He always follows tech trends and applies the most efficient ones in the software production process. Finding himself in the Data Science world, Evgeniy realized that this is exactly where the cutting-edge AI solutions are being adopted and optimized for business issues solving. In his work, he mostly focuses on the process of business automation and software products development, business analysis and consulting.