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How to create app for eCommerce?

Android App, iOS App, Mobile Development

How to build eCommerce App?

Do you have an online store? Are you thinking about creating a mobile app? Where to begin? What to look for and how not to miss the important? Based on the Sannacode experience, we will tell you how to develop an eCommerce mobile application.

What is an eCommerce app?

eCommerce is an area of the economy when trading and financial transactions are conducted on the Internet. In simple words, any transaction made from an electronic device connected to the network. An analog of a shopping center, but with a large assortment and comfort: you can visit it without leaving your home.

Most people consider e-Сommerce as a business for the consumer (B2C), but there are many other types of e-Commerce. These include online auctions, online banking, ticketing and booking, and business to business (B2B) transactions.

Recently, the growth of e-Commerce has expanded to sales using mobile devices, which is commonly known as “mobile commerce” and is simply part of e-Commerce.

e-Commerce apps are a serious investment for small businesses, its payback is often difficult to predict. App development lasts from 4 to 6 months, and after that application support and further improvements to UI/UX are required. The cost of eCommerce applications starts from 15 US thousand dollars.

There are industries for which e-Commerce app has already become a must-have:

  1. transport and travel (e.g. hotel or taxi booking);

  2. retail (online purchase);

  3. media and entertainment (streaming and TV).

If your business is from another industry, then check if it meets such criteria as:

  1. There is a significant customer base;

  2. The site is optimized for mobile traffic and it is converted into purchases;

  3. Customers use your online store regularly;

  4. You imagine what figures the app should show in order to pay back the development.

Why should you create an application for e-Commerce business?

  1. Mobile users spend 90% of their time in apps, and surfing the Internet takes up only 10%. (Flurry research)

  2. 58% of smartphone owners in the US use their gadgets for online shopping, 66% of them do it weekly. (Google Report “How people shop on their phones”).

  3. 4 E-Commerce apps are installed on average on Americans' smartphones and 29% of them are used weekly for online shopping. (Google Report “How people shop on their phones”)

  4. 85% of smartphone users prefer a mobile app to a site. (Compuware research).

  5. In the UK, 40 of the 50 major online stores have mobile apps.

Does the online store need a mobile app? The experience of foreign partners shows that a mobile application is vital for E-Commerce projects. Such an app, in addition to a mobile site, is a win-win business strategy in the e-commerce segment. Consider why this is so.
Mobile apps are more convenient and faster than mobile sites

The high pace of life makes users very demanding on the speed of loading sites and online stores on the screens of gadgets. According to Kissmetrics research, 46% of smartphone users leave the page if it does not open within the first 10 seconds.

In this regard, apps out of competition:

  1. They load faster than mobile sites, as they save user preferences and do not require downloading all content in a browser; 

  2. Their work is almost independent of the speed and quality of the Internet connection.

In addition to speed, apps are superior to sites in the following aspects:

  1. access to the native functions of the smartphone (camera, GPS-navigator, voice recognition functions, Google Pay and Apple Pay),

  2. interactivity (integration with social networks) and personalization of content,

  3. ease of use and best adaptation for mobile devices.

It is well known that users choose what is faster and more convenient, which means that your customers will surely prefer an application on Android or iOS to a mobile site.
Mobile apps increase customer loyalty

According to Criteo, Customer Retention Rate (CRR) is 50% higher for apps than mobile sites. This means that the app compared to the browser version of the online store doubles the likelihood of repeat purchases.
The reasons for the high CRR apps are related to the fact that the phone is always at hand, and the utility icon, like a catchy banner, constantly reminds the user of the opportunity to make a purchase on the network.

Apps better convert visitors into customers and increase store sales

A Criteo study clearly demonstrates that mobile applications increase sales and project revenue in the e-Commerce and m-Commerce segments.
The conversion rate (CR) for apps is 200% higher than for mobile sites; the average check (Average order value, AOV) of applications is 140% higher than the corresponding figures for the mobile version of the web resource. Cart abandonment rate (SCAR) in applications is only 20%, while in mobile versions of the site - 97%, and in desktop versions - 68%.

Apps put users to shopping, especially since their functionality allows you to pay for an order with one click.
Apps provide a higher level of interaction with the client

Applications allow you to effectively influence smartphone users by sending push-notifications with advertising messages and promotions (if users have not disabled this feature on their gadgets).

According to SocialMediaToday research, push notifications are more effective than sending emails and SMS messages for the following reasons:

  • Instant delivery to the addressee and a large audience reach;

  • Average Open Rage (AOR) 90%, with 23% for e-mail messages;

  • Low cost of an advertising campaign;

  • Lack of spam and malware;

  • Low failure rate

  • Ability to use the Deep Linking tool.

Competent distribution of push notifications is able to convert users into customers and return interest in the application of "asleep" customers.

Most important features of eСommerce app

Almost all e-Commerce apps should have a certain set of functions for good usability of app and administrative panel functions that will ensure the correct operation of the app.


For admin panel

Consider each of the systems with which the application will be integrated.

The system of accounting for inventory

It tells the app which goods are on sale and which are not. This is necessary to prevent a person from adding to the basket and buying something that is actually not there.

Goods logistics

It gives a person the opportunity to select the delivery address in the app from those to which, in principle, the goods are delivered to a particular online store.

In addition to the address, a person needs to choose a delivery method and calculate its cost based on these data.

Then the application must transfer all this data to the system that controls the logistics, return, and partial return of goods. The latter is necessary for such cases when the user orders ten products and only buys two. The remaining eight should somehow return to the warehouse and all this also takes into account the logistics system.

In addition to all of the above, the store can work with several logistics companies or with an aggregator of logistics services.

Accounting system

For example, the SAP system, which prepares accounting documents.

Stock and discount management system

Its integration allows the application when calculating the cost to take into account that a discount has been announced for a certain set of goods. Or know about the gift system. This also includes the discount system. It stores information that the user has a discount card, and the application can access this system and determine which person has the discount card. There may also be CRM marketing platforms that not only remember the discount card but also collect a bunch of other information about the user: remember when a person has his birthday, when and what kind of email newsletter he received and how he reacted; remember that he likes to buy, etc.

User authorization systems

Different options are possible here. For eCommerce apps one of the most interesting features is when the user has downloaded the application but has not logged in. With such systems, developers can, for example, send push notifications to a specific device, even if the user has not registered with the application yet.

Set of payment systems

Determines how the online store accepts money from customers. It can be WebMoney, PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard, Apple Pay or Android Pay,Stripe, etc. - there are a lot of payment systems with which you need to integrate.

Also, an online store may have buyers from abroad, where they have their own currency and their own payment methods. In such cases, it is necessary that the bank or the payment system that accepts payments from customers can convert foreign currency.

For users

Now let's go over the features that an eCommerce app should include. First, we describe the main functions without which the app will not make sense.

Basic functions:

  1. Log in

  2. View Profile

  3. Catalog

  4. Product Search

  5. Checkout

  6. Payment

If you have a limited budget, we recommend that you first create an MVP app with these features, and then gradually add new ones that will increase your sales through the app and user satisfaction from using your application.

Advanced features:

  1. Support Chat

  2. Reviews

  3. Notifications

  4. Different payment methods

  5. Integration with social networks

  6. Search filters

  7. Recommendation system

  8. Loyalty program

  9. SEO

Pay close attention to SEO. You need both to create a convenient search for goods inside the app, and to make your application easy to find on the Internet and in the app store. Optimize for keywords in the app store.

We also recommend that you implement the loyalty program in the application. A well-made loyalty program will greatly increase sales.

How to develop an eCommerce App?

Any eCommerce app development takes place in several stages. Next, we will talk in detail about each.

Preparatory stage

This brainstorming is necessary before creating the app. The task of the stage is to find answers to the following questions:

  1. What is the purpose of creating an app for the company?

  2. Why does the consumer need it? What will motivate him to install the eCommerce app on his smartphone or tablet?

  3. What features should be in the application to use it?

  4. What platforms should the application work on (for iOS, Android)?

  5. Which of the methods described above suits you and how much does it cost to create an application and its subsequent use?

  6. What service will be required after launch? 

The objective of this stage is to look at the future app from the user's point of view. After all, you are looking for the answer to the question "How to build an e-commerce mobile application?" just so that he installs it on his smartphone.

Interface prototyping

After a brainstorm and a thorough study of the project, the business analytic begins to describe the functions of the future e-Commerce app and designer team draw a prototype interface.

The experience of a person interacting with a mobile app is different from interacting with a site.

In the application, you can display much fewer goods or banners on one screen, because the screens of mobile devices have their own limitations. And at the design stage, you need to find out what content should be shown to the user immediately, how to build navigation through the catalog or functions of the mobile app. Based on this information, a prototype is created.

In addition, users of different platforms - iOS and Android - have different user habits. For example, smartphones on Android have a back button, while smartphones on iOS do not. And iOS users are used to clicking the back button inside the app, but Android users don’t need it.  So the guidelines for eCommerce app design will be different for each platform. Mobile app designers know all these features and take them into account when creating interfaces.

Admin panel setup

The eCommerce mobile app is an additional showcase of the online store. The application, unlike the site, has a different size, format, and method of interaction. People most often look at sites sitting at a table and use apps both while standing in transport and going to work. At the same time, the person perceives the information differently and he needs to offer the wrong products that are offered on the site.

Apps differ in technical capabilities. For example, you can send a push notification to an application user. This creates an additional communication channel that must be controlled using the administrative panel.

Launching and testing an eCommerce app

Before the e-Commerce app is launched, you need to make sure that it functions correctly. If there are serious mistakes in it, all the work will be in vain.

During testing, it is important to verify:

  1. How do correctly all functions work?

  2. Does it work with all planned types of operating systems?

  3. Does it withstand increased user load?

  4. How various changes in the transmission speed or status of a mobile device affect its operation?

There are automated programs for testing apps. However, nothing can replace manual work. Ideally, it should be performed by a user who has not previously seen the interface and, moreover, did not participate in its development. If you choose a free option, ask someone you know about this service.

Mobile App Promotion

How you will promote the app should be considered even at the preparation stage, and after the launch, regularly and sequentially implement the selected measures.

The main promotion option is advertising. Well-designed, it encourages the user to install the eCommerce app. As advertising platforms, you can use Google and Facebook, applications related topics that may be of interest to your target audience.

But to attract is only half the battle. To turn the user who clicked the Install button into your loyal customer, you need a whole range of measures. It includes:

  1. regular updating of material, when it comes to an information app;

  2. periodic push notifications, for example, with information about discounts or promotions (not too often, otherwise the annoying application will be deleted from the phone);

  3. adding new features according to user needs;

  4. work with reviews on different platforms. Including negative ones, because they are especially carefully studied before installation.

How to find the best developers to build an eCommerce mobile app?

The choice of the developer depends on the tasks, the solution to which you are asking for the application. It is important to take into account not only current wishes but also the future development prospects of the product. A simple application with common functions can be done on the designer using freelancers. A complex application with unique functionality that requires integration with the internal company system is a matter of solving by a qualified team of developers, and designers. In this case, your choice is a full-cycle studio.

The cost of development in different countries is very different. In the USA the most expensive rates. In India and Indonesia are among the lowest. Eastern Europe offers the most optimal price-quality ratio.

If you live in a country with expensive developers, for example, in the USA, you can contact a foreign studio and save up to 80% of the budget. Naturally, this option has its drawbacks. You can communicate with the studio only through the Internet. Based on our experience, this does not affect the quality of the application if the studio has experience working with foreign clients, English-speaking managers, and similar cases.

We advise you to choose companies from Eastern Europe. They provide high-quality development services and the price is significantly lower than in the USA, they also have English-speaking developers and managers, use Agile methodologies and are constantly trained.

Sannacode is a full-cycle mobile app development company working with companies in Europe, the USA, the UK, and the CIS. Use our experience and knowledge to create an exclusive, high-quality e-Commerce mobile application. With us, you will increase the number of sales and loyalty of the target audience. Request a project and we will help in all matters of development and entry into the market.


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