How to Create Mobile Ecommerce App: Costs, Tech Stack, and Market Strategy

How to Create Mobile Ecommerce App:
Costs, Tech Stack, and Market Strategy

Fifteen years ago, under the influence of digitalization, the commercial industry was faced with the necessity of creating e-commerce websites. Years later, history repeats itself in the context of m-commerce apps. To strengthen the business foundation for the future, keep reading this follow-up to our series of e-commerce articles to find out how to build an ecommerce mobile app.

How to create your own eCommerce app

The development of any application has both common and very distinctive features. For ecommerce app development, the crucial aspects are:

  1. the aspect of payment, which is supposed to work smoothly and stably;

  2. the security aspect, on which the customer data safety and your reputation depend;

  3. the performance aspect that is a challenge for every major app.

Critical aspects of e-Commerce App Development

App's payment system
Image 1. App’s payment system

Whether you are building ecommerce applications for the online store or marketplace, it is almost the same in terms of time and tasks issues.

To deliver the product within a short time, off-the-shelf software is applied for the backend. Depending on the choice of the platform, the development speed and available functional capabilities will differ: Shopify and WordPress make possible to create a site many times faster than competitors, but at the same time you may encounter problems with extension and clustering. Hybris and Liferay provide more tools for creating a high-quality website, but deployment will increase several times. Another option is writing your own solution, but it will be a long-time process, especially for a full-fledged engine, so we don’t recommend writing it from scratch.

  1. Payment aspect

    Your application is created to make a profit, so it is critical to establish the optimal operation of the payment mechanism. The standard procedure for payment occurs through the interaction between the payment gateway and the payment processor.

    Payment gateway looks like an interface for entering payment information, but behind the scenes, it provides a safe way for the customer’s funds by encrypting data and connecting to the payment processor.

    The payment processor is responsible for handling and making the payment — an authorization request is sent about the details of the transaction. As a result, it is completed or canceled. The list of the most popular payment systems, which are responsible for money operations settlement, includes Paypal, Stripe, Braintree.

    The differences between the store and the marketplace are manifested in the architecture. Marketplaces work with a large number of suppliers with different internal business models, which requires flexible and individual settings of the payment system for each account. In this case, the money will permeate the same way as in the online store but will be distributed differently — to vendors between different bank accounts and currencies.

    Online stores are much easier structurally and traditionally have a B2C business model with a less complicated payment system, as they have only one vendor. Because of this, the entire line of payment mechanisms is becoming less demanding on developers, while conditional internal processes at marketplaces will consider the commission of the site and profit for vendors.

    At the same time, both of them should provide a wide choice of payment mechanisms:

    • credit cards;

    • cryptocurrencies;

    • cash-on-delivery;

    • E-wallets;

    • bank transfers.

  2. Security aspect

    In the digital age, the largest thefts occur at digital space, so if your customers face a loss of money or personal data, it will result in reputation damage and losses for your company.

    Security issues of ecommerce apps can be conditionally divided into local and network. On the local level, it is meaningful to include:

    • Gaps in cryptography. The development of algorithms for end-to-end protection of the cryptosystem closes one of the main loopholes in your app for hackers.

    • Binary protection. Essential to the safety of your code, this security method ensures the integrity and environment checks and also offers biometric authentication.

    • Code encryption. Encrypting the code will help you protect it even if it leaks into the hands of hackers.

    • Constant support. The emergence of new threats and patches to counter them resembles the paradox of chicken and eggs. So you cannot stop working on protecting the application because new threats may appear at any time.

    In terms of network security measures, you should pay attention to:

    • Reliable authentication. It will be reasonable to use time-limited authentication tokens and keep them in encrypted storage, as well as discard all user input to prevent data leakage.

    • Anti-fraud measures. Among the ways to protect online payments are 3D security (creating a PIN code to confirm the identity of the client), Address Verification Service (checking the payment account and zip code), as well as checking the CVV code.

    • Switch to HTTPS. It is already proven that сhanging the obsolete HTTP protocol to HTTPS, in addition to confidential data, protects information that users submit at the time of visiting the site thanks to SSL certificates. Besides, this will be an extra rating factor for Google and other search engines.

    When the app is released, do not stop reinforcing its security measures by filtering user data and input, as well as force authentication during special user actions in the profile. Besides, you can follow the usual security measures:

    • use authorized APIs;
    • adhere to the principle of least privileges;
    • regularly test the updated code.

    Having achieved reliable protection, not only you will feel safe, but also your users.

  3. Performance aspect

    Every extra second of app load frightens users off, which is especially relevant for the e-commerce sector, where traffic is huge. Data optimization and scalability influences load speed. To build an architecture that embraces these two components, you should deal with:

    • Application optimization. During peak times, you may face a lack of a benchmark for code scalability and problems with the resource allocation in the architecture, which leads to crashes. App optimization (especially such techniques like minification and file concatenation) will allow you to speed up the loading and performance of the application.

    • Scaling. The backend must be designed with the capability of processing scalability modules called through REST API. It will give flexibility to your system since scaling will occur pointwise and where appropriate.

    • Domain Driven Design. One of the solutions of this approach, focused on creating optimal systems of objects, are relevant components that are delimited from each other. Your team can convert server code into many of them, that will help to discover new ways of improving scalability for each component.

    • Native approach.Native mobile applications optimally use the capabilities of the phone, and despite the higher cost in comparison with hybrid ones, they significantly increase productivity and user experience.

    • Slow hosting. In the traditional hosting structure, a certain number of servers are allocated for your site/app and stop during peak loads. To prevent crashes, you need to plan the capacity of the servers carefully and have reliable hosting. An alternative is cloud hosting that dynamically adjusts server resources, loading pages equally quickly during loads and without them.

    • Datastore configuration. Pay particular attention to the datastore, as it is often responsible for performance issues. When setting up and using your datastore, take care of optimal fault tolerance and replication.

    • Unoptimized images. One of the most underrated causes of performance problems is images since their insufficient optimization can slow down the app by up to 20%. For their optimization, use compression tools and avoid adding images with more than 50 KB weight. Also, sprites will help you by combining several images into one and reducing the number of queries to them, which speeds up the page load.

    Marketplace will require more scalability and performance challenges than online stores, due to the wider range of products, categories, and data synchronization within the system, for example, price updates and site’s weight facilitation.

    Aside from purely developmental aspects, there is one more important criterion for the success of any e-commerce mobile app — design.

Design Checklist

Developing a powerful and stable system is only half of it. Qualitative UI/UX design is indispensable because the visual information will drive your sales. These design principles prove effective when creating an m-commerce app for realizing its full visual potential:

  • Simplicity

    By the simplicity of the UX/UI design, we mean the content optimization for mobile screens and such a structural model that provides the simplest shopping opportunity.

    It is possible by simplifying the main screen, where only the most profitable offers and popular products should be located, and the menu, where users should intuitively navigate. It must be performed under the principles of the visual hierarchy so that an important object immediately attracted the user’s attention.

    The minimalistic interface of the catalogs will allow avoiding problems with overloaded customer perception. It will reduce the time for making purchase decisions because there will be less reason to compare similar goods.

    Increase the size of the selected products and demonstrate them one at a time, persuading the buyer to Checkout.

    Top Checkout abandonment reasons
    Image 2. Top Checkout abandonment reasons. Source: Baymard Institute
  • Convenience

    To maximize sales, you need to provide the most user-friendly interface, which will not distract but encourage purchases. A quality navigation bar should have easily recognizable icons, from 2 to 5. Properly designed filter settings will help customers quickly and accurately find what they need. Marketplaces, due to the vast dataset, can often use Filter Forms as a separate page. These search options will enable people to quickly and accurately find what they want.

    Design solutions that speed up the purchase, from product search (auto-suggestions) to the process of ordering (address lookup and payment card autodetection), will be able to increase conversion considerably.

    By integrating guest checkout feature with a visual indicator, you will avoid a lengthy registration and payment process.

  • Sales focus

    This principle applies to the type of m-commerce apps, which is focused primarily on selling products within the application, not through communication and brand expansion. Such apps are a replacement for the physical store, and their design is focused on indirect methods of pushing users to sales.

    The search panel is the key by which the customer starts the shopping process, so it should be visible, providing search by various criteria and query auto-completion.

    Be sure to integrate the ‘add to cart’ or ‘buy immediately’ button so that can help in solving the urgent problem of incomplete purchases and the user does not lose a minute when the desired product is found.

    A good m-commerce design should be an attentive and punctual guide, leading the user by the hand to a checkout.

    By combining a high-speed and performance-oriented architecture with a design that is subordinate to the sales focus, you get an m-commerce app that meets the highest standards. Now it’s time to answer the question of what it should be capable of.

Top 7 Features that app needs

The list of features for the m-commerce app is clearly defined because they are focused, in the first place, on the sale and everything related to it: search, addition, purchase, and much more.

  1. Easy registration. The first impression of a client depends on sign-up simplicity. Enable your customers with the possibility to sign-up via email, phone number, and social networks. It is crucial that the registration takes place in a couple of taps and does not test the user’s patience, as studies show people are reluctant to create accounts.

    Sign-in process in e-commerce app
    Image 3. Sign-in process in e-commerce app
  2. Search and Filter. Search is the first step of customers to purchase — if they use it, they already know what they want. What you need is to give a quick and accurate tool for this. The filter by various categories (price, size, delivery time) will improve the service quality and will more likely lead to a purchase.

    The search options you can add to an e-commerce app can be:

    • Filtered directs customers using a gradual narrowing of the search.

    • Limited search consists of clearly defined categories that cannot be crossed.

    • Predictive automatically completes user words for faster and more accurate search.

    • Smart embodies the most relevant search based on the product name, frequently used queries, and supports the features of the above choices.

    The most common search options in the e-commerce field are Smart, Predictive, and Limited. Do not use Simple search if you do not want the reputation of an inconvenient one for your app.

    Search and filter features in ecommerce app
    Image 4. Search and Filter features in e-commerce app. Source: Shopify
  3. Cart and Wishlist. Although they pursue similar goals, they are different features. If a shopping cart is a fundamental element of any m-commerce app, then wishlist’s presence can make a huge difference. It not only allows users to put off their favorite products for later but also stimulates impulsive purchases. Competent implementation of this component will enable you to connect the search stage and checkout smoothly.

    Shopping cart in e-commerce app
    Image 5. Shopping cart in e-commerce app. Source: Bashooka
  4. Checkout and payment. This stage is the last step before buying, so it is necessary to prevent fatigue from the client. According to Baymard’s survey, 35% of buyers cancel a purchase if they need to enter data about gender or age. That’s why Checkout should be simple and fast, which contributes to the preservation of customer payment data and the provision of different payment options. For their convenience, your Checkout must have logistic integrations that allow you to determine the delivery distance and automatically adjust the order price.

    Checkout feature in e-commerce app
    Image 6. Checkout feature in e-commerce app. Source: Appsamurai
  5. Marketing-oriented integrations. In ecommerce applications, some features primarily fulfill marketing goals and required to attract new customers.

    • Push-notifications inform about discounts and promotions in a personalized way, as well as remind customers of the non-purchased assortment of their carts.

    • Social media not only simplifies registration but also has a strong marketing effect. You can track customer data and better personalize your offers, while customers share good purchases and worthwhile promotions with friends.

    • Analytics track and examine user behavior when visiting a site/application, giving you access to session times, products interest, CTR (click-through rates), and other commercially valuable information.

    Design of push-notification app feature
    Image 7. Push-notification feature in e-commerce. Source: Web3canvas
  6. Review & ratings. By allowing customers to review products, you get a boost in conversion, which reveals itself through the psychological mechanism of trust in the store based on reviews — both positive and negative. Any feedback from clients towards the company gives users an impression that they are not being manipulated and this will increase their loyalty.

    Rating feature interface
    Image 8. Rating feature in e-commerce app. Source: Rapportrix
  7. Single access to the account. Multichannel and flexibility access from different devices give a huge advantage over competitors who do not have it.

    It is beneficial to support the duo of the mobile app and website, as their synergy will improve the search ranking on the network. Also, it will provide clients user-friendliness, whether they are at home near a PC or on the street with a smartphone, which increases customer’s engagement.

These are must-have features without which your e-commerce app cannot succeed. You will say it can’t be that simple, and you will be right: there was one more pitfall that lies in the differences between iOS and Android ecommerce app development.

The differences between Android and iOS development

iOS and Android have divided the digital space of the mobile world among themselves. Each has its own benefits and disadvantages, so you should be aware of differences in development to optimize the process of your app creation. We have identified the main ones:

  1. Programming Languages

    The fundamental difference between iOS and Android lies in the coding terms. If you wonder how to make an ecommerce Android app, use Java or Kotlin. The same answer is applied to the question of how to make an Android app for ecommerce website. If you are interested in ecommerce iPhone app development, choose Swift. These bundles of programming languages have a rich ecosystem and an active community of developers. It takes a lot of time to polish the skills in language comprehension for a developer, so usually, two different teams are hired to develop different versions of an app.

    There are still a limited number of mobile languages and a broad spectrum of languages for server-side that can be used for m-commerce app, so depending on the project requirements, you can write a great app in any of them. For small or low-functional projects, hybrid development may be suitable, since it implies using the framework to compile one code for both platforms.

  2. Development speed and complexity

    The prevalence among devices makes the difference in speed and development complexity between iOS and Android. While iOS is content with the trio of iPhone/iPad/iPod, Android has a vast number of supported devices. Thus, it is enough for iOS developers to build apps for three devices with a narrow OS range, while their colleagues from the Android camp need to spend much more time on OS fragmentation. For the same reason, Android development takes more time than iOS, even despite the relative ease of programming languages Java and Kotlin.

  3. Deployment process

    In contrast to the development speed, Android apps are much easier and faster to publish on Google Play than Apple counterparts. The reasons for this are the verification principles of both platforms: Google Play automatically tests apps for a couple of hours, when the AppStore review team looks for errors more thoroughly, which usually take a week to resolve. Android testing tools are richer than what Apple Xcode offers. In general, the deployment process on AppStore is labor-intensive, takes more time and money.

    Along with a large number of technical, there are many commercial differences between iOS and Android. Demographically, Android is leading, covering 2/3 of the entire market. At the same time, iOS has more in-app purchases income, overtaking Google Play by as much as 80% because of the predominantly wealthy iOS audience and the monetization model, which focuses on paid applications.

E-commerce Mobile App Development with Aimprosoft

Now let’s turn to real-life examples of how to create an ecommerce app. One of our customers, an Italian private entrepreneur, cherished the original idea of creating an ecommerce project: the concept was a marketplace with products divided into categories, an admin panel, and mobile clients (iOS/Android).

According to the customer’s idea, this project had to serve as the basis for the development of custom native ecommerce apps for retailers at competitive prices. Our task was not only to integrate a stable working marketplace with mobile clients but also to write the code as versatile as possible for the maximum app customization.

Aimprosoft mobile department has fully built two mobile applications with UI, navigation, connection to the server, data storage, and other integral parts. We managed to display the content of the site using the REST API, which interacted with the server and freely received all the necessary information. For the successful operation of the app and compliance with customer requirements, we have introduced:

  • Free Native Mobile Apps for iOS and Android that every client will get with themes;

  • Simple Registration with a possibility to sign-in via social networks;

  • Product Filter for selective and narrowing search;

  • One-click buying for quick and convenient purchase using predefined address and credit card number;

  • Related items feature with cross-scaling and up-scaling options;

  • Customized APIs that suit for customer’s infrastructure;

  • Integration of Bulk Import feature allowed to transfer CSV files from the desktop to the mobile version and vice versa;

  • The possibility to pay for purchases was implemented by the integration of Stripe system, which supports all popular payment providers;

  • Mail and transport delivery was guaranteed by using transportation APIs;

The ecommerce application development process has not proceeded without difficulties: setting up and systematizing the site’s content meant mastering the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) identifier, whose logic debugging and parsing with a lot of data arrays cost many efforts for the developers.

Interface of an e-commerce mobile app
Image 9. Interface of Shopfounder for iOS. Source: Aimprosoft

As a result, we created an MVP under the working name Shopfounder. It took three months and did not differ much from a full-fledged work product: a user could sign-up, checkout, look through catalogs, and rate products. Our team developed a server, and we could customize the address, icons, background, as well as any other details of the app for any brand.

The application we created became the key to success for the customer, based on which he built a prosperous business. The right choice of partner has become essential in his personal story: for many years, Aimprosoft has been specializing in the implementation of the customer’s ideas, which we were happy to confirm once again.

Development team

If you want to create an ecommerce app of this kind, you will need the following specialists:

  • 1 Project manager;

  • 1-2 Android developers;

  • 1-2 iOS developers;

  • 1 UI/UX engineer;

  • 1 QA engineer.

Depending on the complexity and requirements of the project, the number of developers may vary.

How much does it cost to make an eCommerce app

To determine the ecommerce mobile app development cost, you need to take account of the functionality and hours spent on its implementation. In the case of e-commerce mobile apps like Shopfounder, the most necessary features will be:

  • Registration;

  • Search;

  • Filter;

  • List of favorites;

  • Checkout;

  • Shopping Cart;

  • Payment system;

  • Ratings;

  • Synchronization.

This list is suitable for both MVP and full project — they almost do not differ in basic function set. In order for the app not only to work well and perform the main task but to meet the high standards of the industry, you should add features such as social media integration, push-notifications, wishlist, and related products.

Regardless of whether you want to create an app from scratch, build a website with it or continue developing at any stage, Aimprosoft team will help you out in any of the situations since our full-cycle development approach is flexible and can be arranged according to the individual requirements of each customer.

Business analysis is the most critical stage of work and starts from 40 hours, but can be shorter if the customer has a precise understanding of the product. The technical specification is relentlessly following it, taking 10+ hours. UI/UX specialists are responsible for the design, one of the most critical parts of any e-commerce app, which directly affects the conversion by forming timelines of 100+ hours for each platform. The amount of hours spent on the QA depends on the written code quality and takes about 25-50 hours for iOS and Android MVP.

Stages MVP hours
~800—1100
Full feature hours
~1400—1800
Business analysis + UX 40—80 100—140
Technical Specification 10—20 40—60
UI/UX 100—150 for each platform 200—250 for each platform
iOS/Android development 250—300 for each platform 350—450 for each platform
QA 25—50 for each platform 80—100 for each platform

If you do not have a server and a website, add at least 800 hours to the backend development for a basic product engine creation. The backend estimation will grow even more if you write it from scratch.

To find out how much it will cost to create mobile ecommerce app, we suggest taking a look at the rough estimate table showing the average prices for each region:

Country Average hourly rate MVP
~800—1100
Full feature set
~1400—1800 hours
USA $80 $64 000—88 000 $112 000—144 000
Western Europe (Germany) €60 €48 000—66 000 €84 000—108 000
UK £55 ?44 000—60 500 ?77 000—99 000
Eastern Europe (Ukraine) $30 $24 000—33 000 $42 000—54 000

Conclusion

Statistics indicate that m-commerce is ready to permanently change our approach to shopping, as it was with e-commerce sites. It is important not to miss your chance to jump on the hype train and enter the top e-commerce companies in the first row. You can put your trust in Aimprosoft on this matter because we have all the necessary knowledge and experience in custom e-commerce applications software development. Do not hesitate to contact us, so as not to postpone your success and get down to business immediately.