Table of contents

  1. Conduct Market Research
  2. Choose Essential Features
  3. Implement Professional Design
  4. Choose the Platform
  5. Take Care of Product Growth and Support
  6. Find Out the Cost to Build a Shopping App
  7. Wrapping Up

Nowadays e-commerce has become one of the most attractive areas of mobile and web development. According to over the past decade Internet retail has become a booming industry reaching 1.548 billion dollars worldwide in 2015.

E-commerce shows an average annual growth of 17% and is projected to reach 3.015 billion dollars by 2018. In 2015 online shopping yielded over 340 billion dollars of revenue in the US alone.

In addition, according to American Customer Satisfaction Index, online shopping apps users are more satisfied with their purchases in comparison to traditional retail customers.

The mobile sector looks even more promising because today more people browse online shops with their iPhones and other devices than with their PCs. Research shows that going mobile can benefit almost every niche of retail business.

Revenue in the e-Commerce market amounts to mUSD 313,980.5 in 2016.

A lot of people look for business opportunities in this flourishing market but don’t know where to start. So how are successful startups created in this booming yet highly competitive field?

To answer this question we’ll take a look at the process of app development from a developer’s standpoint. According to Agile methodology, every app goes through several stages before it is ready to launch. We are going to guide you through these stages and give some tips that are essential for making an outstanding e-commerce app.

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Conduct Market Research

Almost any software development company starts its work on a project with identifying the customer’s business needs and requirements. The first thing you should sort out when contacting a developer is to decide what types of goods you are intended to sell. Do you want to sell all kinds of goods or specialize in a particular kind of commodity? Do you want to provide physical or digital products?

It’s important that you are specific to begin with as having specificity about who you’re making this app for makes it easier to hit a home run when actually selling goods with your app

Once you decided on what products you are going to sell and whom you are going to serve, conduct market research.

Take a thorough look at services and apps selling the same type of goods as you are planning to. This will allow you to understand which features are essential for your niche. In addition to this, you can analyze which features helped them gain popularity and which served as a drawback.

Let’s take a look at Amazon, the industry’s leader in both numbers of sales and customer satisfaction index. The company went online as an Internet bookstore and quickly turned into one of the most successive startups in the field.

Amazon offered its customers a large database of books for very affordable prices. Additionally, the site had sizable discounts on the most of the titles. Thus, Amazon had quickly become the most popular book-related website in the world.

In 27 months from its inception, it managed to serve one million customers, a figure that got doubled in the next six months. The company survived the Dot-com bubble and turned into e-commerce giant we know today. In 2015 Amazon topped Walmart by market capitalization and became the most valuable retailer in the US.

So, what has made Amazon such a successful Internet retailer?

One of the main factors that helped Amazon app to capture hearts and minds of its customers was the extreme user-friendliness of its interface.

Amazon featured a powerful search engine, offered numerous lists and categories to help customers with their decision. It also had a recommendation center where clients could choose books according to their mood, preferences, reading history, etc. The app has an option for gift package and automatic notification system.

Amazon offered its customers the ability to post and read user reviews as well as to rate the purchased items. EMarketer’s Research shows that potential customers trust such reviews almost 12 times as much as descriptions provided by the manufacturers.

For Amazon, a great shopping app was just a cherry on top of a cake. It is still recommended to launch an e-commerce business with a web application first.

It is also worth to keep in mind that making your web application truly responsive can be a very time-consuming and expensive venture, so launching a mobile app instead can be a rather viable strategy. As you see, one can learn a lot from Amazon’s success or any other shopping app while venturing into eCommerce business.

Choose Essential Features

Now it is time to determine the scope of your project. You don’t want to just make an Amazon app clone; you want to create an outstanding online shopping app. While keeping in mind that e-commerce is a very competitive industry (for example, there are dozens of shopping list apps alone) our first tip would be launching your app as fast as you can.

You need to work on a minimum viable product (MVP) with the essential features in it.

The faster you make a shopping app the more time you will have to improve based on users’ feedback, create a worthwhile content, interact with customers, and conduct marketing.
If that’s the case, then what features should be the first to consider?

User log-in. Even if this feature is obvious, don’t forget to make log-in a pleasant and user-friendly experience.

Don’t force your users to input volumes of personal information upfront and allow them to browse your online shop as guests. It can also be beneficial to provide your users with additional sign-in options, for example via Facebook or other social media.

Bad and good examples of registration in a shopping app

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Product search. First of all, it should be lightning fast. Secondly, use a lot of different filters and high-quality indexing that will help users to quickly find what they want inside the shopping app.

Bad and good examples of filtering and sorting options for customer reviewproduct search in an eCommerce app

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User reviews. Having such a simple feature can boost sales by 18%. It allows customers to express their feelings about the product as well as shopping experience itself. Not to mention that potential buyers trust user reviews much more than products descriptions.

Give your app users an ability to switch between the most recent, positive and negative reviews.

Bad and good example of filtering and sorting options for customer reviews

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Smooth checkout experience. Users of online shopping apps eagerly fill their carts with items they like and want to buy, but research shows that 71% of these carts get abandoned in the end. And there are multiple reasons for such statistics.

A lot of customers look for free shipping options, so high shipment fees may scare them off. The app’s slowness and lack of different payment options also may add up to this sad statistics. To combat this you can:

  • Allow users to purchase as guests. People nowadays look for easy and quick ways to purchase. Adding such a time-consuming feature as mandatory login or account creation might deter a large portion of potential customers from buying your products or using the app again.

Example of guest checkout option

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  • Display the checkout progress. Show the users how many steps they have to complete before making a purchase. Customers are much more patient when they know exactly how much time they have to spend in your store before getting what they want.
  • Make the checkout page as simple as possible. Don’t confuse customers with unnecessary questions and options.
  • Allow customers to log-in via Facebook and other social media.

A reliable and safe payment gateway. A payment gateway is a service that transfers the credit card transactions from your store to credit card processing systems or banks. Because it involves processing sensitive credit card information the payment gateway should be extra secure and reliable.

Use only the systems that have a good reputation. From our own experience, we can recommend PayPal and Stripe. After using both gateways extensively we didn’t run into any serious problems.

Don’t annoy users with additional forms they need to fill out to make the payment. Instead, allow multiple popular payment options. It will also increase a sense of security.

How multiple payment methods may improve user experience

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Shipping. One of the key ingredients to Amazon’s success was a network of warehouses that allowed fast delivery of goods. Take care of shipping because most users nowadays expect lightning-fast shipment that is free or dirt-cheap.

It is worth to show the time and price for shipment on the product page so that your users are always informed of this crucial feature.

Forms for shipping should be as user-friendly as possible. Allow for multiple input formats, make sure that entry fields are not obscured by elements of the interface (keyboard for example).

Now after determining the essential features for an eCommerce app we can move onto the next stage of development.

Implement Professional Design

Outstanding design for your app can be another powerful tool to attract more customers.

A large portion of users form their opinion of online shops based on the visuals alone. While basic templates will suffice a newly launched app, professional design will help to increase the app’s popularity and brand recognition.

We’ve outlined a few tips that are essential for a newly launched app.

Design a clear-cut logo. This is the very first thing a potential customer sees before he or she decides to use your app. You will never get a chance to make a first impression again, so don’t screw up!

Make your goods stand out. Users remember whopping 80% of the information they see and only 1/5th of what they read. To make your pictures stand out you can:

  • Make the background white.
  • Use quality pictures made from every angle.
  • Display large photos to catch viewers’ attention.
  • Enable the option to zoom in seamlessly.

Good example of image zoom controlled by the user

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Furthermore, you may also use short videos showcasing the products, a strategy proven to attract more attention than even the best of photos. Or, leave this feature for further iterations.

Choose the Platform

Now it is time to decide on what platform you want to launch your app.

As we mentioned before it is necessary to research your market niche and know your target consumer. iOS devices are more popular in North America and Europe while other parts of the world prefer Android. Thus your marketing research can determine the platform for your app.

The standard practice is to make a shopping app for iOS first and then port it to Android. It is a widely known fact that iOS users are willing to pay more than their Android counterparts.

From the developer’s standpoint, iOS development is more convenient and takes less time because you have to optimize only for the latest and previous versions of Apple devices and operating systems.

Android development means that developers have to optimize for a greater variety of devices and screen resolutions which in turn affects the development time. You can, of course, save your time and money by supporting only the most popular Android devices.

This combined with the sheer amount of Android devices and their popularity in fast-growing markets such as China means that it is worth to create a shopping app for Android. Or you can have the best of both worlds and make a cross platform app.

Take Care of Product Growth and Support

After successfully launching your app it is time to analyze how you can improve your product. This stage includes analysis of feedback, additional research, and finding new features to implement in the next cycle of development. We can give you several tips on what to do after launching an MVP.

Speed up your app. Research shows that 25% of users abandon websites that take more than in 4 seconds to load. Nowadays people expect from mobile apps the same performance they get from their desktop counterparts, so this statistic still applies here. It’s necessary to optimize your app for speed because each additional second of loading times can reduce sales by 7%.

Example on how slow load time may frustrate users

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Organize top-notch customer support. It is inevitable that at some point something will go wrong and you will have to deal with discontented customers.

The majority of shopping apps users prefer to communicate their frustration without leaving an app or making phone calls. In this case, it is necessary to have a detailed page for complaints and propositions.

It is also recommended to have a comprehensive FAQs page, a list of contacts, and a staff ready to deal with user complaints 24/7.

Bad and good examples of access to customer service in a shopping app

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And the last but not the least, promote your app. A lot of online shopping apps fail because they underestimate the importance of early marketing. It is recommended to spend at least twice as much time marketing an app as on its development.

Don’t belittle the importance of social media in your marketing efforts. Facebook and Twitter accounts are now mandatory tools for promoting online shopping business.

Try to make your social media accounts as active as possible. Engage the customers directly, offer loyalty programs and discounts but don’t try to always sell your products. Constant spamming may turn potential customers off. Start a blog instead and balance the content to be at least 50% educational and 50% promotional. It will help your marketing efforts and boost sales.

It should be noted that the process of development does not end here. The need in new features may arise due to users feedback or new business requirements. But if you implement one or more of these tips, we are sure it will put your app in a position to succeed.

Find Out the Cost to Build a Shopping App

At this point, you should have a rough mental outline for your online shopping app. But one question still lies unanswered: how much does it cost to develop such an app? This is a tough question indeed and no company will answer it right away.

Before the development starts we usually conduct a market research and have series of interviews and to identify the scope of the project and come up with a rough estimate. To calculate the costs we evaluate the desired features and gauge man hours needed to implement them. The number of required man hours depends directly on app’s complexity and a number of supported operating systems and devices.

After reading the previous paragraph, you may already have a list of the crucial features that you can stick to when developing your app:

  • Customers log-in.
  • Optimized search with various filters.
  • User-friendly shopping cart.
  • Reliable checkout with payment system integration.
  • Shipping system integration.
  • Users ratings and reviews.
  • Live chat for feedback and customer support.

The hourly fees for the developers vary greatly from company to company and from country to country. For example, wages for developers in North America (the USA and Canada) can reach up to $250 per hour, while in Eastern Europe developers earn $30-50 per hour.

For instance, let’s take a look at a basic development team consisting of a project manager, two mobile developers, a backend developer, UX/UI designer, and a QA engineer located in Ukraine. The timeline for shopping app development will look as follows:

  1. Android development (10-20% less time for iOS) will take from 320 hours.
  2. UX/UI design — from 160 hours.
  3. Backend development — from 450 hours.
  4. Project management and QA — from 450 hours.

Total time —  from 1380 hours.
Shopping app development costs —  from $41,400.

Take a notice that this rough estimate doesn’t include the costs of marketing, maintenance, and support, server expenses, etc.

Wrapping Up

Once you identify your niche and target audience, you can follow the simple 5-step process we shared in this article to create an outstanding e-commerce app. Just keep in mind our tips when hiring a team of professionals or even if you’ve decided to make all the work yourself.

Get fired up for success. Above all, constantly improve your product. Because, depending on your industry or niche, a few tips on development may not be all that you need to reach the right audience and boost sales. If you would like to know how we can help you with it, feel free to contact us.


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