The time spent on eCommerce apps has increased by leaps and bounds during the past few years. According to a research, people spend 90% of their time on smartphones checking some mobile app or the other. The same study suggests that around 79% of smartphone users have downloaded and used eCommerce apps like eBay, Groupon or Walmart. Using tools like Etsy, Woocommerce and Shopify even small businesses today are entering the exciting world of eCommerce. The concept of click and mortar which helps brands sell their merchandise online is gaining momentum fast. The eCommerce apps are proving to be the tool to respond to buyers’ needs better. The popularity of eCommerce has propelled the demand for top eCommerce app developers.
Types of eCommerce apps
The following are the major types of eCommerce apps
This type of eCommerce apps is used by businesses to deal with other businesses. Manufacturers, retailers, distributors and resellers use B2B eCommerce apps to trade with each other. The B2B eCommerce apps can have multiple sellers’ listing their products on an eCommerce platform or a single seller offering its products in huge volumes. Alibaba is a famous example of a single seller offering its products in huge volumes.
These are the most common types of eCommerce apps. All eCommerce apps serving their customers come under this category. A business opens an eCommerce platform to serve its customers in a better manner. BigBasket can be termed as a b2c eCommerce app.
ECommerce aggregator’s app
The eCommerce aggregator apps list down services from various local businesses on their platform, providing them an opportunity to connect with a broader range of customers. Consumers get access to a centralized platform through which they can buy any product or service. Uber is an example of an aggregator app as it brings different taxi entrepreneurs under one brand name.
In this business model, the customers sell their goods and services to other customers and the online portal just acts as a service facilitator. The C2C apps have gained popularity in recent times as customers can find a previously unexplored home businesses with these apps. A home-maker who is talented at baking cakes can easily connect with prospective customers revisiting her neighborhood using a C2C app. Etsy is a great example of C2C eCommerce website as here artists come together to buy and sell their wares with minimum interference from the owners.
Checklist before building an eCommerce app
Many entrepreneurs made the mistake of jumping on the eCommerce bandwagon and build an eCommerce app without giving much thought to the business model. To avoid such mistakes we have prepared a checklist that one must go through before building an eCommerce app.
Research the eCommerce app idea
Insufficient research about their eCommerce app idea is the reason why many eCommerce apps fail. First, the entrepreneurs must be clear about the kind of eCommerce app they want to build. If the business produces its own goods, it can choose to develop an eCommerce app to attract more customers. The other idea is to create an eCommerce aggregator app and let others sell their goods on the eCommerce app.
No matter what kind of an eCommerce app the business wants to develop, it must first summarize the idea and answers the question: what are the key issues that the app will solve?
Any robust business plan starts with a clear business idea. If the business wants to go to investors to raise money, the investors would check whether the company has a well-thought-out business idea.
Create buyer personas
Specifying a target audience in detail is the next step after identifying the business idea. No business can succeed in the online world without knowing who its customers are. Creating detailed buyer personas is the way forward for eCommerce companies if they want to succeed. While creating buyer personas, the businesses should consider all the components like
• Economic background
• Hobbies and interests
The eCommerce businesses must understand their needs and motivations and also know what influences their buying behavior. By creating a detailed buyer persona, an eCommerce company would design an app that will engage the customers and boost customer acquisition and sales.
Assign a budget for the app
Considering the type of eCommerce app they want to build, the eCommerce company must have a clear budget. The budget of the app will depend on the kind of features and technologies that the business wants to integrate in its app.
Choose the perfect mobile app platform
One of the most critical decisions that an eCommerce company needs to take is on which platform it would develop its eCommerce app. While choosing a platform, the company must ensure that the platform meets the latest technical requirements and reaches a broader audience. Many companies prefer to develop their eCommerce apps both in Android as well as iOS. The eCommerce app owners should also make sure that their app is compatible with wearable and IoT devices, like smart watches and biometric scanners respectively, as the popularity of such devices are on the rise.
Most of the eCommerce niches are overcrowded and this is why new entrants need to conduct a thorough competitor analysis before developing an eCommerce app. The entrepreneurs must define their niche and conduct proper analysis using the available information. By conducting a proper competitor analysis, the eCommerce app owners can prepare a better strategy to position their app in the market.
Focus on the app’s wireframe
The app’s wireframe must be built in such a way that it includes various categories, sub-categories and pages. The eCommerce app owners should have the app designed in such a way that the navigation, redirects and CTAs are meaningful and work properly. The feedback of the team members plays an essential role in deciding the nature of the wireframe. Spending time designing a proper wireframe is vital because the users won’t be able to find what they are looking for if the app has unordered elements, lacks clear CTAs and has a flawed color scheme.
MVP or Minimum Viable Product is the most basic version of an app with only the necessary features and hence it also be called the first-version of your most viable product. Before building a full-fledged eCommerce app with all the bells and whistles it is important to identify whether the business model works as expected. This is where an MVP can help. The app owners can build an MVP, get the suggestions of users regarding the app, the kind of features that they would like to see in future version of the app and the features that are not required. The developers can then add/remove the features of the app according to the user feedback.
A typical tech stack for an eCommerce app
To develop a robust eCommerce app the developers must choose a proven and modern technology stack that offers the best performance to the application in terms of speed, security and scalability
The frontend is user facing and these are the standard technologies that can be used to build an attractive front end of the eCommerce app.
The backend is the server end part of the eCommerce application and it contains a set of tools and frameworks which perform several functions. Let’s check out the leading back-end technologies
Choosing the correct operating system is the first step towards developing a successful eCommerce application. Here are the few major operating systems that one can choose from
• Apple iOS
• Microsoft Windows
• Google Android
Web server infrastructure
The web servers are solutions that take the requests from the users and analyze them and provide the requested output. Apache and Nginx are the two free web servers while paid services for high-volume applications are provided by Google and Amazon.
Database management system
Some popular databases are:
• DynamoDB by Amazon
The programmers can use the following programming languages to code the app.
Leading Open-Source eCommerce platforms
Normally there are two types of eCommerce platforms, proprietary and open-source. The users need to pay a license fee to use a proprietary eCommerce platform while the open-source platform is free to use.
Open-source eCommerce platforms host the eCommerce website of the client on their servers.
The open-source platforms also provide a wide range of tools and functionalities to the users which allow them to customize their website according to their needs. The open-source eCommerce platforms help the developers reduce the time to market of an eCommerce website.
The following are the most popular open-source eCommerce platforms
How to choose the best suitable platform for building your eCommerce store?
An important decision that the entrepreneurs need to take is regarding the choice of the eCommerce platform. Different eCommerce platforms serve different needs. Depending upon their needs, online store nature and business objectives the entrepreneurs need to select an appropriate eCommerce platform.
Here are a few things that the eCommerce store owners need to decide before they proceed with platform selection
• How easy it is to integrate third-party services with the eCommerce platform
• Is the platform mobile-friendly?
• The platform should be simple to use
• The platform should be easy to scale
To aid the entrepreneurs in their selection, we have given a few basic details about the most popular eCommerce platforms below
Shopify powers more than 1.7 million businesses in 175 countries and the platform has helped these businesses garner $200 billion in sales. The real power of Shopify lies in its simplicity. Shopify stores are easy to build and customize even for beginners. World famous brands like the Economist, Heinz, Red Bull and the BBC use Shopify.
WordPress is a platform with one of the highest number of themes and plugins. These themes and plugins allow the developers to build a great eCommerce website in a short span of time. Unlike Shopify, the entrepreneurs will need some technical background to build an eCommerce platform on WordPress. Around 22% of the world’s top 1 million websites are powered by Woocommerce. Big brands like Sony Music, Tech crunch, the New Yorker and Bloomberg professional use woocommerce.
Magento is an eCommerce platform that allows a high level of customization to the users. This is why entrepreneurs who want to build a highly customized eCommerce store opt for Magento. There are around 250,000 eCommerce stores on Magento. Brands like Ford, Liverpool, Land Rover and Helly Hansen use Magento to power their eCommerce websites.
Prestashop is one of the most feature-rich eCommerce platforms out there. With Prestashop it is really fast and easy to set up a primary e-Commerce store. Prestashop is ideal for those businesses that have budget and time constraints. Prestashop currently supports more than 300,000 businesses worldwide. Brands like McDonald’s, Harryfay and Sallier use Prestashop.
Process of eCommerce app development
One can divide the app development process into various stages like
Preparation and planning
In the preparation and planning stage, the eCommerce app owners need to conduct marketing research, build technical requirements for the app, prepare a budget and find the team to help the owners build the app.
In this stage the eCommerce app owners decide on essential features of the app, list them out and prepare a particular product tech requirements document. While defining the features, the eCommerce app owners should think about the platform, the programming languages to be used and the data frameworks that will support the eCommerce app.
The UI / UX of the app happens to be the most critical component of the app. While designing the app, the designers should focus on the expectations and needs of the users. The following are some hints for designing a good UI / UX interface.
• Keep the menu simple
• Use large images
• Use motion design
• The catalog should have significant filters to present the products
• Information about the prices of the products and payment methods should be clearly visible
This is the phase where the actual and coding happens. The developers prepare a front-end as well as back-end code in this phase. While coding the eCommerce app, necessary care should be taken to ensure that quality control is maintained in all the modules. The security, stability and scalability should be maintained while preparing the code of the eCommerce app.
An eCommerce app should be able to conduct multiple transactions simultaneously without a hiccup. There are an infinite number of situations that could occur and spoil the user experience. To prevent these situations from occurring, robust testing is required. The eCommerce app owners should ensure that the app undergoes functional, user, device and integration testing and then start fixing the bugs. In most cases several rounds of testing are required to ensure that everything works properly.
Deployment and maintenance
Deployment is the final stage of the app development process. In this stage the app owners deploy the app on app stores and sort out any bugs that arise post-deployment. Regular updates and maintenance of the app are absolutely essential to ensure that the app functions smoothly. While updating the app, the entrepreneurs must ensure that they listen to the customers’ feedback and provide new features in their app.
Must-have features in an eCommerce app
Although the features in one eCommerce app can vary from other eCommerce app, there are a few basic features that any good eCommerce app must have. Let us discuss these essential features in the following section.
Log in and personal account
In order to personalize the app content and provide the users with a great experience, some basic details like name and address must be stored in the app’s database. For this purpose, an eCommerce app should have a sign-up and sign-in feature, asking the customers some basic details. The app then should store these essential details in its database. This feature would make the experience of the app’s users smoother as they won’t need to re-enter their details every time they make a purchase. The app owners can also benefit by providing this feature as they would know exactly what the interests of their customers are.
No eCommerce app is complete without providing a detailed catalog of the products that it sells. While preparing the catalog, care must be taken to ensure that the catalog contains big images and clear category names. The product pages should have clear descriptions of products, the prices should be clearly visible, estimated delivery dates should be mentioned and the product pages should have an add-to-cart button.
The shopping cart feature is one of the most basic features in an eCommerce app. In this feature, the users add products to their shopping cart which they can buy later. The shopping cart feature provides a lot of convenience to the shoppers as they can save multiple items to their shopping cart. Once the users have selected all the items, then they can purchase them all at once.
In most cases people are searching for specific products in an eCommerce app. To make sure that the customers quickly get what they want, the eCommerce app must have a search box. The eCommerce app owners can make the searching process easier and convenient for their users by developing a convenient menu and a search bar. The search box should be available on all pages and should be distinctly visible.
A Chatbot is one of the most powerful eCommerce tools that an eCommerce app can have. Chat board provides 24/7 customer support and offloads a lot of work from the shoulders of customer care executives of the eCommerce company. A Chatbot helps the eCommerce app become more accessible to its customers. They can answer basic questions like the delivery date of the product, questions related to returns and replacement, payment failure at their convenience.
In case the Chatbot is unable to resolve the issue, it will then forward the issue with all the necessary details to the customer care executive. The customer care executive would already know the background of the problem and hence would be able to resolve the issue faster.
The admin panel helps the eCommerce company manage the app. Through the admin panel, the eCommerce app owners can
• Add and remove the products
• Add and remove the sellers in case of aggregator apps
• Resolve clients issues
• Change the images of the products
• Change the pricing details of the products
• View the analytics
Payments and payment system integration
Payment security is absolutely essential for any commerce app as nobody would like to use an insecure eCommerce app. Following the GDPR practices is a prerequisite for any app and is true for the eCommerce app also. The eCommerce app could either have a custom payment instrument that would interact with the banking system or just use some readymade plugging. A secure payment system would ensure that the users and the app owners do not face any hiccups.
The analytics tools like Google analytics help the app owners get real-time insights into customer behavior. The analytics tells the app owners regarding the following important metrics of eCommerce.
• The total time spent on the app by the users
• Total transactions in a specific time frame
• The pages and products that the customers have frequented the most
• App bounce rates
• Most purchased products
The data gained from analytics can be used to improve the user experience. The data also helps the app owners to create targeted advertisements that improve the conversion rate.
Push notifications help boost the app’s engagement levels with its users as it constantly reminds the users about the app. The push notifications let the users know about the new offers on their favorite products. Via push notifications, the app owners can also provide the delivery status of ordered products to the customers.
Social media integration
The social media integration feature will enable the users to share information about their favorite products with their friends. The social media integration tool will act as a great marketing medium for the app and help boost the engagement levels of the app.
High-quality yet compressed graphics
The first thing that attracts the users towards the products listed on the eCommerce app is its beautiful image. Powerful photos have a great significant impact and help in the favorable placement of the product in the consumer’s mind. Hence the eCommerce apps should make sure to put up high resolution photos and videos of the products on their app.
An important thing that the eCommerce app owners should take care of is to ensure that the size of the graphics is compressed. The size is compressed to make sure that the images and videos load faster on the app. This is done to make sure that the app experience is smooth for the user. If not compressed, the graphics and videos will take time to load and along with the user experience, also affect the SEO rankings of the app.
Review and rating
No eCommerce app can succeed in the cut-throat competition of the digital world without listening to its customers. The app owners should have a review and rating section for each product and explicitly ask for honest reviews from customers who have purchased the products. Once enough data is acquired about the customer preferences about the products, the eCommerce app can then have a most popular and best-selling goods section. This section can prove to be an excellent way to highlight the most successful products on the eCommerce app and increase sales. Honest reviews about the products also help increase the eCommerce app’s reliability as these honest reviews help the customers make informed decisions.
The wish list section helps users create a list of products that they would like to buy later. The wish list section of the app helps the app owners gather essential data regarding the customers’ preferences. Using the data gathered from the wish list section, the app owners could then notify the customers when the prices of their favorite products have dropped, nudging them to make the purchase. A great idea to use the wish list section is to let the users share the wish list products with their friends before important events like anniversaries and birthdays.
New-age technologies to include in an eCommerce app
Up till now we have covered the basic features of an eCommerce app. Now we will cover some new age features which one can think of including in an eCommerce app. These new age technologies will help in improving the user engagement of the app.
The augmented and virtual reality technology has taken the world by storm. The eCommerce apps are no exception to it and various retailers like H&M and IKEA are utilizing the power of AR and VR to boost the engagement level of their customers with their brand. The beauty of AR and VR is that the products are displayed in 3D. This feature of augmented and virtual reality helps the eCommerce app create a virtual showroom where the customers can try anything from spectacles, clothing to furniture. Including an AR and VR feature in the economics, the app will definitely boost the sales of products featured and help distinguish the eCommerce app from its competitors.
The rise of voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant has fueled the growth of voice commerce. According to forecasts, voice-enabled commerce will grow to $80 billion by the year 2023. Businesses that are not paying attention to voice commerce are missing out on a huge opportunity. Voice search makes eCommerce more convenient for the users as it is much easier to search for products using voice than typing it. Voice search also makes it pretty easy to give feedback regarding the purchased product. Instead of typing long reviews, the voice assistants could get the customers’ feedback by asking them a few questions regarding the purchase. As shown in the image given below, customers have purchased many things using voice search.
The eCommerce app can improve the convenience of the customers by adding the voice search function to it.
Another emerging new technology in eCommerce is that of visual search. The feature allows the customers to shop using their camera. Using visual search, the users can upload images from their social media profiles, mobile gallery or web page. The users can look for products similar to the image that they have uploaded. Visual search has gained traction amongst gen Z and millennials. Companies like Pinterest are already using this technology in their mobile app. Alibaba, one of the world’s largest eCommerce companies, has used the power of visual search in its visual search engine Palitao. The company started the service in 2014 and reached 10 million unique visitors within a short span of 3 years.
AI-powered search engines, also known as the insight engines, help the eCommerce apps enhance traditional search engines’ power by combining them with sophisticated machine learning algorithms. The primary benefit of using insight engines is that these engines help make the internal search more accurate and personalized.
Using applied statistics, the AI-powered eCommerce apps can maximize the probability of a sale happening by coming up with the right product at the right time. AI can also help an eCommerce app in its back-end services like inventory management. AI can play a vital role in improving the damage detection of goods not to receive damaged goods. AI can also help improve the product flow in the warehouse, effectively reducing the delivery time. Using the power of AI, the eCommerce app can improve its UX.
Cost of developing an eCommerce app
• The number of features included in the eCommerce app
• The location of the app development company
• The number of users that the eCommerce app wants to cater to
• The type of vendors(freelancers, in-house development team or a remote professional development company)
• Number and nature of third-party services needed to be integrated with the app
• Marketing and SEO costs
As the number of features and the complexity of the app increases so does its cost. For instance, if a company wants to build a simple eCommerce app with just the basic features like login customer login and payment, it won’t be that costly compared to developing a full featured eCommerce app with features like AR / VR and sophisticated AI algorithms.
The location of the app development company also plays an important role in determining the final cost of the product. If the app developers are located in North America or Europe, they will charge around 8 to 10 times more than their counterparts in a developing country like India.
Depending on the factors mentioned above, the eCommerce app development costs between $40,000 to $200,000.
The eCommerce boom is far from over, with trends like voice commerce, visual commerce and social commerce on the rise. It is expected that the next decade will be that of eCommerce. Developing an eCommerce app is one of the most profitable ideas of the future. Here’s a list of the best eCommerce developers to help entrepreneurs in their journey of developing a top-notch eCommerce Solution.