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eCommerce App Development Complete Guide

lanars_inc profile image Arslan Tayliyev ・11 min read

Did you notice how the period spent inside various apps is being increased during the past 5 or 7 years? In 2019, around 90% of the time people spend with smartphones at their hands is used for checking apps. According to the same research, over 79% of smartphone owners download and use one or even more eCommerce apps like eBay, Groupon, or Walmart ones.

Creating an eCommerce app is now the way to gain profits for both third-party startupers and brick and mortar businesses. Click and mortar goods distribution concept that allows you to present and sell your product through the Internet is getting its momentum. And eCommerce apps are the tool to respond to buyers’ needs better, save customers’ time, and even provide them with an amazing emotional experience.

So why not create an eCommerce app? Learn how to plan your brilliant eCommerce idea implementation and get significant profits.

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Checklist Before Building an eCommerce App

AliExpress app with its 500 million installs and eBay with 255 million users globally are the most popular eCommerce apps in the world. Both of them are shopping platforms for vendors. Besides, there are thousands of those that are significantly profitable selling goods produced by one company — Nike’s and H&M’s apps are of that kind.

What you need to consider about eCommerce programming is that the eCommerce app is a digital product that has much in common with any other. The difference is it needs to have its unique marketing idea, audience, and competitive environment. If you have a clear vision of what you are selling, who your customers are, and whom you need to fight with, you’ll be doomed to marketing victory.

There are three aspects of the Discovery stage of your project:

eCommerce app idea

Well, you’ve got a general idea of what you’d like to build. Most likely, you’ve chosen one of two options. If you’ve got a regular shop or you produce goods, you may choose developing eCommerce app as a tool to attract more customers (check H&M or Ikea apps). The second idea is to create a platform to let others sell their goods within your digital product (ETSY, eBay, and WooCommerce). Keep in mind that in both options you need website first.

No matter whether it is a shopping app or a platform for online trading, the first thing you need to do is to summarize your idea. Answer the question of what kind of service you’d like to conduct. Then, list key issues that it is likely to solve for your users.

In the end, come up with the general idea overview that could be presented as a scheme, written description for investors, or something else. Later, it will be transformed into a tech requirements document. Think of goods delivery issues as well as an entire business functioning too.

Find more about your app idea evaluation in our blog article I Have an Idea for an App, Now What.

Target audience research

To make your eCommerce application development reasonable, you need to make sure that your service idea could be demanded. Look at your future app features and try to answer the question who could benefit from their usage.

Portrait your target audience using such categories as their age, gender, place of living, occupation, and main interests. Think of how your product could help them in their daily activities. Do they have fears considering your product or tasks it may solve? How your product will make their life better.

Finally, try to understand if your audience is willing to pay money to get access to your digital product? How much? Selling platforms may charge sellers a commission, while brand apps got their profits out of direct sells. Consider, that your eCommerce app could be based on the existing business (you could create an online platform to present products from your offline store).

Get to know how to make money out of your eCommerce product reading our article How You Can Monetize Your App Idea.

Competitors analysis

In most cases, eCommerce niches are overcrowded with competitors. Define your niche and conduct your direct and indirect competitors analysis using information from Google, Google Play Market, AppStore, and magazines on mobile commerce.

Find out what the major competitive advantage of your market antagonists is, what promotional tools they use, how much time it takes for them to become successful. Then, list the key features of your app that will help you hit the competitors and win customers’ hearts.

Process of eCommerce App Development

eCommerce (electronic or Internet commerce) is a wide field with lots of specific niches. Generally, it is about financial transactions that could be conducted without cash and within the Internet to purchase products and services. Such products could be delivered online or offline (physical objects).

So why do people use eCommerce apps? 68% of users assume that apps help them save their money using offers on goods they’d like to purchase. Also, over 68% of customers find that the major advantage of the eCommerce app is their flexibility and readiness to serve them at any time. Finally, half of the shopping and other mobile commerce app users say that their apps provide them with access to a wider range of products.

PWA (Progressive Web Applications) is one more reason why online shopping is gaining its momentum. Such apps provide desktop users with a perfect experience close to mobile app one. They are also extremely responsive which makes them popular among mobile users who prefer not to download apps on their devices.

What does it mean for your eCommerce app development? In brief, your app needs to be convenient for users, intuitive, and responsive, as well as you need to keep its proposition base updated. A well-chosen platform or tech approach (iOS, Android, or cross-platform app development) can help facilitate the solution of almost all of these tasks. We advise you to come up with the platform decision reading our article Android vs iOS: Which Platform to Build Your App for First Is Better?

The entire app development process could be divided into several stages.

Preparation and planning

At this stage, you need to conduct marketing research, create general tech requirements for your future team, find team members and set working rules and timelines. More — How to Hire Dedicated Development team.

Defining features

Decide on MVP features of your app, list them, and work out precise product tech requirements document (PRD). Then, think of the platform, data frameworks, programming language, and technologies you need to work with. More — How to Build a Minimum Viable Product. In the paragraph below, we are going to analyze the key features of an eCommerce app.

Design

How to build an eCommerce website or convenient application? When it comes to eCommerce, the design really matters! Focus on users’ expectations, fears, and needs and let your designers create a UI wireframe and present it to the group of potential users. Developing UX prototypes is also a part of this stage. There are some hints for eCommerce app interface design:

  • simple menu
  • large images
  • significant filters to present products
  • motion design
  • information on prices and payment methods in bold
  • instant notifications

Sometimes, it is less costly to use ready-made UI templates if your business is typical (local dress store, drugstore).

Development

At this point, developers prepare a working prototype (front-end code) of your app, create API, and work out back-end architecture of your digital product. Primer quality control should be conducted for all code modules such as app features or other elements. Security, stability (consider offline capabilities), and scalability should be your priorities. Payment system integration is one more critical issue on this stage.

Testing

eCommerce app testing is not an easy task as your app needs objects to sell (updated database) and there is an infinite number of payment situations that could occur to your system. Conduct functional, integration, users, and device testing and then start fixing your bugs. Take several rounds of testing to make sure everything works properly.

Deployment and maintenance

Download your app to your corporate website, AppStore, or Google Play Market. At this stage, your marketing strategy should already have been started. Respond to clients’ requests, study users’ experience, and analytics, maintain offers database, and think of features that are missing.

Build eCommerce App: Security, Stability, Scalability

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Three key issues are essential while planning and building eCommercial app — security, stability, and scalability. If all of them work well, your chances to be appealing to users are very high. Keep in mind, that eCommerce products deal with huge amounts of users as it is the only way for them to gain profits for their owners. The more users you attract with your tech solution and unique market value, the less is the price you need to pay for gaining the attention of each of them.

— Security

What is eCommerce application? Its idea is to allow users to make purchases by tapping on their mobile phone screens. As the key advantage of shopping app is to save customers’ time and provide them with an opportunity to get particular goods being wherever they want, an app should support online payments and gain delivery details.

In other words, you need to collect valuable user data — addresses, phones, full names, bank account numbers, CVV, email, and many more. And your task is to protect the data from cybercriminals. If you’ve got a reputation for a non-reliable and insecure service provider, no one would like to take risks and use your app.

— Scalability

The stability of your app means its ability to operate fast and accurately even though lots of customers start using it in one moment. eCommerce app should be generally stable to allow you to increase sales volumes and raise profits during the high market season (sales, Black Friday, holidays, end of the season).

Consider that a well-developed app could handle lots of orders per second without server shutting down and even becoming more efficient optimizing inner processes. At the same time, the response time should be short.

— Stability

eCommerce is a niche that does not forgive mistakes. People use shopping apps to save time. And if they have to wait for app response forever, if your app shows them irrelevant content in product cards (wrong pictures or description), or if buttons just do not work properly, users are likely to leave your app and never come back.

Conduct several quality assurance tests before app deployment and be ready to fix bugs found by your users immediately.

How to Build eCommerce App: Key Features

The basic (even MVP) eCommerce app functionality may vary regarding your aims, profit plan, and — what is the most important — the type of product or service you sell. The working algorithms of your business could also influence eCommerce programming.

Here, we took into account some most common forms of eCommerce apps — online shops and product trading platforms.

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Log in and personal account

To personalize app content and provide users with a possibility to add products to their carts, purchase them, and order delivery, you need to keep their personal information. In eCommerce apps, users are usually asked to proceed with registration with email, Facebook profile, or telephone number. Later (after products were chosen), the app will ask users to fill details.

Catalog and products

The catalog consists of product cards that are categorized. You must use big images and clear categories’ names to transform your app into a proper shopping tool. Products pages should consist of big images, descriptions, and the Add-to-cart button.

Shopping cart

While users click on products, those items are being added to the shopping bag of the customer. When users have picked all the items they’d like to buy, they go to the shopping cart section to purchase them and order delivery if required.

Search

It’s not a secret, that in most cases people are searching for specific products in your catalog. To make the searching process easier and quicker for them, you should develop both a convenient menu and a search bar. The bar needs to be shown on every app screen.

Admin panel

The panel allows your company to manage what is going on with your app — add and hide products, solve clients’ issues, change pictures, and many more. In most cases, the admin panel is also used by clients’ support managers. The tool also could show your app usage statistics and insights.

Payments and payment system integration

First, your app should follow the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Second, as we’ve written above — nobody will use an insecure eCommerce app. Shopping apps could have custom payment instruments that interact with banking systems or just use ready-made plugin which is more secure. That is also important to have multiple payment options that’s popular payment systems integration is an issue.

Push notifications

Let your users know when it’s time to check new offers and favorite products sales, or if their order was successfully delivered. Push notifications raise customer retention rates.

Social media integration

That’s great if you provide users with a tool to share information on products in social networks. Social media integration could help you to develop your app image and promote it without large investments.

Review and rating

Most popular and most liked goods sections — that is how you could raise the awareness of users as for some specific products in the catalog, as well as keep them highly demanded. Reviews (if only you’ve got enough customers willing to leave them) turn your app into a more reliable one in the eyes of your customers.

Wishlist

Wishlist section allows users to collect products’ profiles and then buy them when they will have money for that purchase or there will be sales on those items. Another idea of how to use wishlist is to let users share them with friends before their Birthdays.

To build an eCommerce app with features listed below your team need to consist of PM, UI and UX designer, iOS developer or Android developer, Backend developer, and QA tester. You may choose different forms of cooperation with the team — inhouse development, entire team outsourcing, or work with freelancers.

Learn more about employees’ hourly rates and calculate the number of hours that could be spent on each feature development reading our article How Much Does It Cost to Create an App.

Conclusion

eСommerce mobile app development is a profitable thing to do in 2020. By the end of the next year, it is expected that the mobile commerce app transaction amount will grow up to 53.9% compared to 2017 and will generate 79% of profits in the eCommerce sector globally. Regardless of your commercial aim — to promote your goods or to create a platform and charge transaction commission — mobile app is the most promising digital product to develop compared with regular websites.

Shopping app development is not much different from any other mobile app development. To implement your idea you need an identical team. You will also go through the same stages of mobile app production — Discovery, Planning, Design, Development, Testing, and Deployment.

What really distinguishes eCommerce apps from other products in AppStore and Google Play Market is special requirements for their quality and structure. Security, Stability, Scalability are three principles that you cannot ignore while developing an application that deals with financial data.

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