How to Build an eCommerce App
Did you know that over 10 billion mobile devices are currently used by most everybody in the world? And aside from communication, work, and entertainment purposes, a huge share of people also regularly use their phones for shopping. Is this not a reason alone to opt for creating a dedicated eCommerce solution for mobile devices? Let’s dive into detail about exactly how to develop an eCommerce application in the modern realities.
Why an App Over a Site?
Before getting to our take on the step-by-step guide, you should know why exactly developing a mobile eCommerce application rather than a website is such a great idea.
Firstly, the application is accessible offline, making the life of users with bad Internet much easier.
Secondly, apps can provide an utterly personalized user experience with the integration of artificial intelligence, push notifications, the Internet of Things features, etc. On top of that, by gaining access to the internal functionality of user devices, apps offer awesome features of real-time interaction with a camera, contact list, geolocation indicators, etc.
Lastly, mobile apps are much more convenient from the UX perspective – a user doesn’t have to wait until the browser launches as well as switch between numerous tabs.
Don’t get this wrong, all these advantages don’t mean that you may steer clear of getting a dedicated website, too. It’s just that, usually, a full-blown app acts as the true next milestone in the development of a digital trading business.
Building an eCommerce Solution Stage by Stage
This is a step-by-step developer guide to lead you through each essential aspect to be implemented before, during, and after building eCommerce applications. Without further ado:
Step #1 – composing an idea
Start by choosing a niche for your future eCommerce app. Despite all the amazing success stories of entrepreneurs who promoted their own thing against all odds with hard work and perseverance, it’s better to do exactly what you are good at. No need to tap into the “wheel reinvention” stuff.
For even though the genius Kylie Jenner has not yet started to make money on car tires, building materials, or fish food, there is no sense in meddling in an unknown if you are a yet-to-be-known regular entrepreneur. Know this – only a sincere interest and fascination in a particular product industry will help you achieve real success.
Step #2 – market analysis
Moving on based on your initial concept, the next thing is to analyze market trends, competitive solutions, and, surely, the target audience. Many entrepreneurs, naively relying on the success of some well-known solutions, believe that they can develop an eCommerce app in an identical way and repeat the achievements. The long-run result never lives up to such sly expectations.
This is why competent marketing research is essential. It should give you an idea of what trends are currently driving the market, what issues the potential consumer expects your commercial solution to solve, and how great your chances to withstand competition against the backdrop of niche leaders are.
In all fairness, a good team of hired marketers should handle this moment. They collect analytics on competitive solutions using special software (for instance, Firebase or Mixpanel), determine which features are in the most demand, and make detailed reports to give you a big picture of the “top product” ”In a specific niche.
Step #3 – choosing a platform – Android or iOS?
Despite the fact that Android-based devices account for about 80 percent of all mobile gadgets, developers around the world never write off iOS device owners. Both platforms are still equal industry leaders with their own pros and cons. And that’s why the choice of the platform becomes a frequent dilemma for novice eCommerce entrepreneurs.
Both hybrid and cross-platform approaches can help you reduce the project budget by at least 30 percent (compared to eCommerce application development exclusively for each platform) and speed up the process of introducing the product to the market.
Step #4 – settling with features
Now, for the major stage of creating eCommerce apps, on which the budget of your future solution will depend directly – the choice of functionality. The following features are basic for most solutions and should be present by default in an MVP (the importance of is discussed further below).
Simple registration process
The vast majority of modern applications are profile-oriented. This means that each user gets a dedicated account through which he/she can access personalized software features (for instance, the shopping cart, wish list, order history, etc.).
For secure authorization, well-known APIs, such as OAuth, are usually selected. And fast authorization through social media accounts is crucial nowadays (registering or signing up through Google, Facebook, etc.) because the fewer steps your users need to take to perform target actions, the better.
Search and filters
When you make an eCommerce app, you should consider such important features as search and filtering.
Certain developers supplement their solutions with auto-selection by first letters, as well as hints powered by artificial intelligence (as, for example, Netflix does). This automatically raises the level of UX and attracts users with a feel of innovation.
This button is a real sales-booster. A wishlist section as a whole helps users of the app always remember what they want to buy the next time. Usually, it looks like a heart located in the corner under the image of the goods.
Easy & fast checkout & history of orders
Developing an eCommerce application, you simply cannot do without a shopping cart and individual order history. Usually, there is nothing specific in the implementation of these features, the main thing is to make them visible from any screen of the created software.
Nowadays, few people do without at least a passive presence on social networks. This is used by many eCommerce business owners in order to expand the number of sales channels.
You can also provide deeper integration with social networks than just quick authorization through the API. For example, some applications, like Asos, allow real customers to demonstrate their purchases right in the feed under the lot in the format of Instagram posts.
If you already have a dedicated website, it would be great to synchronize with the app, thus boosting your corporate influence. You can establish a wholesome system with synced up wishlists, duplicated history of orders, etc.
Order and payment forms
When implementing such an important functional component as the order and payment form, it is extremely important to minimize the number of target action steps.
We strongly recommend that you provide autofill for some input fields (for example, you can offer to remember the bank card data after its first input).
Alternative payment methods
If you want to create an eCommerce app that will be suitable for the widest audience of users, it’s best to connect a bunch of APIs so that there are several popular payment gateways supported. Users always appreciate freedom of choice in such matters.
Ratings and reviews
Trading websites are not complete without rating systems and user reviews. These features help to increase user loyalty and gain trust (especially when it comes to marketplace applications where a huge number of sellers are registered);
Considering the success of messaging applications for the millennial generation, it’s completely logical to use one of their variations – chatbots – as another marketing channel. With their help, you can automatically accept orders and reviews, as well as help optimize the UX of your software solution.
All in all, there are three main functions that chatbots of online stores perform from the buyers’ perspective: searching for products on demand, demonstrating products without a targeted search (as if you just looked into a store and started browsing various products immediately), and helping customers with specific order information clarifications;
Many modern commercial solutions seek to reduce the number of users who don’t go through all stages of the sales funnel, leaving the application at the time of selecting the product. In order to efficiently remind the buyer of his/her goods in the cart, you can use push notifications.
In addition, this handy feature helps you quickly notify customers of online promotions. Push notifications also help to better keep customers engaged, notifying about new products in the product range, highlight the availability of the desired products in stock, etc.
Step #5 – choosing technology trends
Our tutorial for eager entrepreneurs continues with an overview of the most trending technologies that may come in handy in the future eCommerce app.
Voice search well impacts the overall growth of eCommerce: many users use voice search as the main tool for ordering goods and services. Thus, voice commerce technology is the preferred alternative to using a virtual keyboard to checkout online product purchases.
The customer can search, study, and buy products online using voice commands that are entered through the virtual assistant. In addition, with the help of voice, your customers will be able to go through all stages of the buying process, including product search, comparison, placing an order, and, finally, making a purchase.
That’s how voice search greatly facilitates your eCommerce, as the purchase process can be accelerated and completed anywhere at any time. In this case, it is enough to make sure that you are clearly heard by the voice assistant and the message is transmitted.
The voice-based shopping provides:
- the ability to control actions inside the store through the speakerphone;
- prompt receipt of answers and query results;
- multitasking while shopping.
Geolocation capabilities offer great opportunities for connecting offline sales points with applications. Thus, you can implement the concept of “buy online, pick up offline”, prompting your customers the location of the nearest point of delivery of goods.
Today, Augmented Reality (AR) is a powerful tool for visualizing products in their natural environment of use. It was this technological concept that helped IKEA create a virtual catalog that allows you to “try on” furniture and home accessories inside real apartments of potential buyers.
In the same way, many stores launch virtual fitting rooms that allow you to remotely try on clothes and other wardrobe items. There are even some decorative cosmetics companies (like L’Oreal) that have solutions for creating virtual makeup based on their products.
Internet of Things
The concept of the Internet of Things isn’t new: it has long been used by trading companies for end-to-end monitoring of warehouses, for planning delivery of goods, and for analyzing user behavior.
IoT also helps with a predictive experience in commerce, providing real-time data exchange with cloud services, in which action models are built based on the behavior of all users.
Lastly, IoT enables wide opportunities for the personalization of user experience – again, based on the thorough analysis of consumer behavior. For instance, if a buyer searched the day before for a certain product on the Internet, the store may offer him/her related products and accessories based on past searches.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Currently, machine learning and artificial intelligence are among the top solutions to boost eCommerce efficiency. With their help, you can implement the “smart” search, create collections of recommended products, simplify navigation within the store, and launch a really smart chatbot that would find answers to even the most discouraging questions.
All in all, these technological concepts provide unprecedented personalization of the user experience, which is plus a hundred points to the loyalty of your target audience.
Step #6 – development of UI and UX design
Generally speaking, a design is usually created before the implementation of the functionality begins. Nevertheless, if it is only a matter of planning the architecture of the future application, it is important to understand what features will be present in the finished solution in order to understand what the UI should look like.
Note that the creation of impactful custom design will help you distinguish your application from the mass of similar ones. In addition, you will certainly need to find good designers who would create intuitive and convenient navigation, establishing a decent level of user experience.
Step #7 – heeding the user feedback
You can get the most objective and detailed feedback possible by first launching an MVP – Minimum Viable Product.
Minimum Viable Product is like a demo version of your main application, endowed with basic infrastructure, but at the same time representing value for its target audience. The main challenges that MVP solves are checking the product’s potential relevance among real consumers – owners of iPhone and Android devices, as well as reviewing new features that should be potentially added.
MVPs help entrepreneurs test working hypotheses, adjust the application promotion strategy, and also get even more information about the market than during a marketing discussion. Initial users will certainly provide feedback on the product based on their vision of functionality and its design.
Using the MVP strategy, you can significantly reduce development costs as well as the risks of failure. With the basic product with useful parameters in hand, you will understand how much the idea is in demand and whether the project is moving in the right direction.
MVPs are not created for short-term goals. It is needed to understand which features are most important for target users. Therefore, if you plan to conquer a previously unknown niche in eCommerce, building an MVP will be the right thing to do.
Step #8 – SEO
Good, efficient SEO is when as many people as possible find, download, install, and use your application as a result of the SEO efforts. Indeed, as practice shows, having a properly functioning, high-performance, useful solution may still not do the trick.
You need hype to become popular among users. That’s where SEO comes into play. Strong and relevant keywords, speaking and catchy company/product names, extensive localization of the app for certain regions, informative screenshots, and insightful categorization – this is SEO in a nutshell.
Step #9 – promotion
This is the final stage of work on the application, which includes uploading the application to the marketplace (Google Play or the App Store), and further technical support, which any project needs to fix bugs that may appear continuously.
Cost of eCommerce Application Development
If we’re talking about solutions created by a dedicated eCommerce mobile app development company working for outsourcing, then the most basic eCommerce apps may start at 5-7 thousand US dollars (the same usually goes for eCommerce website development).
When it comes to big, scalable projects based on the latest tech trends and open-source frameworks like Angular, equipped with multiple additional features and a dedicated MVP, be ready to spend around 30 thousand bucks on average on your eCommerce app development process.
On top of that, keep in mind that from time to time you will need technical support services (which don’t come for free), which in the first two years after the first release of software usually make up about a fifth of its total budget.
Learn more details on the cost of building an eCommerce app.
How to Build an eCommerce App – Conclusion
We hope our brief tutorial helps you understand the gist of how to build an eCommerce mobile app right here and now. However, a good authentic project can rarely be created by a single developer. That’s why you will need to hire a team of experienced programmers who will share development responsibilities.
If you want to build an eCommerce app that will exceed your highest expectations, contact us right now. We will discuss all the nuances of the project and calculate the approximate budget.