How to Build an eCommerce App

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Mark Dabbs

13 Aug 2019 - 8 min read

Maybe you’ve been reading about the Retail Apocalypse of 2019? If you are a retailer, there is legitimate cause for concern – failure to adapt to changes in an increasingly tech and data-driven market. Everywhere you look, you can see the impact technology is having on the economy. It’s due in large part to what I’ve recently pointed out about Amazon.com. An eCommerce app is one option that can help you come up to speed, so we’re going to outline the initial steps and features that go into a successful eCommerce app.

Platforms for eCommerce App Development

The main consideration behind developing an eCommerce application is that it should be accessible to your strongest target market segments. This requires market research. Consider the demographics of your location, nature of the industry, type of business, and marketing strategy. Market research should uncover a bevy of interesting notes about your market and you can let the numbers decide the best platform for your business.

Generally speaking, within the United States, you’ll find that most people using and spending more on iOS apps. Internationally, however, you may want to consider going with Android, first. Certain age groups and types of businesses favor a focus on web apps. If your budget permits, going after the iOS and Android markets will get you the best of both worlds. Researching which mobile eCommerce platforms are used by the majority of your target audience will fetch you a better ROI.

Offer Several Payment Methods

According to a survey by YouGov, 40% of online shoppers are more comfortable making an online purchase from a store that offers multiple payment methods than from a store that has just one or two payment options. That’s your chance to gain an uptick in trust from consumers by providing multiple payment methods.

Most major payment systems take care of this for you, like Braintree – a branch of Paypal. They do have a small surcharge on orders. In Braintree’s case, it runs 2.9% plus $0.30 per card or digital wallet transaction, with discounts for business doing over $80k monthly. In turn, however, you are able to accept Credit Card payments (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Diners) along with Apple, Google, Venmo, Paypal and other options – backed by the all important Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI Compliance).

UI/UX Design to Give the Desired Look and Feel

In his article Yes Alan, There is an ROI for UX Design, prominent designer Jared Spool notes:

The value that comes from good design is incremental. Thousands of small decisions, thoughtfully made, with a focus on the users’ experience is what makes design valuable.

Your User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) directly or indirectly impacts over a dozen eCommerce monetization metrics. We explore this in greater detail in The Business Case for 10,000% ROI. It’s also worth knowing all of your monetization options because many businesses are missing several potentially significant revenue streams.

We have a lot to say about how to do UI and UX right. If your app is not easy and intuitive to use, most people won’t use it. Launching an eCommerce website or eCommerce app is just the beginning. From there, you must be constantly engaged in improving your User Interface and User Experience to retain more of the users you gain from marketing and distribution. They all work toward getting more people to register, share their app with their friends, make purchases in the app, make sure they don’t abandon their purchase during checkout, and more.

Finding the Right eCommerce App Development Partner

Your most crucial decision before starting your eCommerce app development is whether you want to hire a professional eCommerce app development agency or do it with your internal team. The answer to this depends on your capabilities and budget. Even if you do have an internal development team, you will still likely want mobile specialists actively involved for:

  • Actively acquiring and maximizing user feedback.
  • Using feedback in specialized mobile UI and UX for high user engagement.
  • App and feature set testing and debugging for stability.
  • App and backend security to protect user’s data.
  • Getting to market much faster than hiring your own internal team.
  • User feedback and competitive market analysis for feature set road map.
  • Tracking performance metrics for ongoing UI/UX improvements.
  • Managing distribution of updates.
  • Continuous product development for your app to continuously evolve and improve your business.

Going into eCommerce app development without preparation can result in frustrating, expensive, and brand-damaging blunders. Investing in an eCommerce app that your customers love to use will give you a major advantage over most of your competition.

Hire mobile app development professionals who are as passionate about their work as you are about growing your eCommerce business. Hiring the best agency for your app also requires some research – good old-fashioned due diligence. The link there will help you make sure they can do what they say they can do.

5 Must Have Features for an eCommerce App

Having a crystal clear view on your eCommerce mobile app development, the next step is to understand what features to include in your eCommerce app. We almost always recommend to companies just entering the mobile market to start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The core points with an MVP are:

  • Focus on the one thing your users are likely to love most about your app.
  • Maximize useful user feedback (in-app user tracking, surveys, A/B tests, etc.)
  • Don’t add features that are not essential to the app’s primary function unless it is validated by user feedback – save time and money by not developing unwanted features, while focusing user feedback on its core purpose.

That said, there are several features that are absolutely essential to an eCommerce app.

1. Simple and Trouble-Free Registration

People don’t have the time or disposition to fill in registration forms. If your eCommerce app asks for a lot of information for the user to register, it is very likely that users will abandon the registration process. Make registration on the app as simple as you can to get your customers to connect with you.

2. Push Notifications

Having push notifications is one of the easiest and most effective ways to attract users to your store. Push notifications call for immediate action from the users on time-sensitive marketing tactics like exclusive hourly promotions, new launches, and special offers. This works especially well with geofencing.

3. Wishlist or Favorite’s Button

A user Wishlist indicates a person’s interest in purchasing a product without immediate intent to buy it. Having a Favorite’s feature within your app allows customers to build their own personalized collection of items for future reference. By knowing what customers want, you can make sure to keep those items in stock and not lose orders.

4. Ratings and Reviews

An effective feedback system captures data from users that is critical to shape the future of your eCommerce app. Your app should allow the customers to provide both positive and negative feedback quickly. Users always appreciate knowing that you are open to suggestions and criticism that could be used to improve your business. When the customers feedback is being considered, they are likely to become your repeat customers.

5. Include Analytics

Analytics is an important feature that every eCommerce app must have to measure the success, growth and progress of the business regularly. Analytics measures performance metrics like CTR (Click-Through-Rate), Session Time, Time on Screen, Most-Used Features, and dozens of other usage metrics. These give you an in-depth understanding of user behavior, the buying patterns on your app, and the features your users like. All this information can be used to improve your app and the revenue streams it produces for you.

There are many more features that you could include in your eCommerce App. All should be evaluated as to whether they are essential to your MVP, its business objectives, and user feedback. If you’ve found this article useful, you should also look at Cashing in with Mobile Wallets and Customer Loyalty Programs. Mobile wallets and loyalty programs are intrinsically tied to the function of eCommerce apps, for ease of purchases and the data they can generate to help you make more informed business and product decisions.

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