Have you been contemplating the idea of creating your own e-commerce app for long? Do you wish to take your grocery shop, apparel store, supplies store, or departmental store online? If yes, then let me tell you that the best time to invest in e-commerce application development is right now. Since the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19, a lot of businesses have already made a move from the traditional to the online sphere.
Smartphones are everywhere and almost everyone is using mobile phones for various purposes. Mobile phones offer seamless connectivity across geographies and domains. Post COVID-19, in particular, online delivery of grocery, essential goods & services, and even clothing and cosmetics has become so common. The world of e-commerce is undergoing a rapid expansion, reaching out to a lot more people and places than ever before – from cities to towns and suburbs to rural and interiors.
The biggest reason behind the fast emergence and growing popularity of eCommerce is the convenience it offers plus the safety, value for money, hassle-free shopping, and other factors further contributing to the trend. Hence, businesses of all types and sizes (from B2C to B2B) are seriously considering e-commerce application development to ensure that their products and services are easily accessible to their targeted customers even if they cannot visit the stores and shops in person.
Well having a mobile app is not a challenge today as you have countless mobile app companies at your disposal and all you need to do is explain your app vision to them. The adept and qualified mobile app developers at these companies will do the needful to build a powerful, high-performing, and engaging app. While launching the e-commerce app may not appear a challenge, inappropriate or unplanned launches may lead you nowhere. Hence, it is very important to understand how to launch the app correctly.
Do you own an online store and want to boost your customer acquisition and retention rate sharply? Remember, you can do it provided that your app can offer a truly amazing customer experience as user experience (and quality of products and services being offered) is the key to keeping the customers engaged and loyal towards your business.
If your e-commerce business succeeds in acquiring and retaining customers effectively, all you need to do next is ensure a great user experience. You can do this by connecting with your potential customers on all possible and available touchpoints, ensuring a great user experience every time. In a modern hectic world, mobile devices serve as the most important touchpoint of all. This is because of the heavy mobile traffic and the fact that mobile sales are catching up fast. Moreover, it is observed that over 80% of shoppers tend to check out the mobile website of the store even if they are physically present in the store itself.
In other words, having a great quality mobile user experience is essential for businesses that want to sell their products and services online. Retailers need to prioritize and optimize their e-commerce apps to be able to continue generating desired revenues and profitability.
However, how can you create an effective m-commerce app that helps you get more visitors, recurring customers, and generate greater sales?
Knowing your app goals is important even before you create your e-commerce application. Knowing what you want from your app can help you measure your app’s potential success. Your KPIs and goals will have a direct impact on the features you will need in your e-commerce app, the development process of the app, and more. For determining your app goals, you must know where you are right now. How many visitors are coming to your store every month? How much revenue comes via mobile payments? What’s the rate of your mobile conversion?
If you are also following the traditional way to sell, you may be losing a lot of customers who prefer online shopping. This is why you need an e-commerce app to help you optimize and simplify your checkout process and increase (visitors to customers) conversions at every stage of the funnel.
However, if you are a B2B online store and want to boost your customer loyalty and win more repeated customers, you must prioritize your requirement of features and functionalities based on achieving increased customer loyalty. The key features of your app will be easy and quick re-ordering, push notifications by segment, etc.
Once you have identified your app vision and goals, it is time to specify your ways of measuring success. What are your key performance indicators (KPIs) and how will you gather data for them? If you do not have the answer to this question right now, it is going to be a real challenge for you to succeed with your mobile e-commerce app.
Once you’ve identified what you want from your e-commerce app and decided to hire an e-commerce development company for building your mobile app, the next step is to figure out who will ultimately use your mobile app? In other words, you need to understand your targeted audiences. Remember, your targeted audiences may have a direct impact on your app features, functionalities, and user experience. B2B customers may expect a different experience from what B2C customers expect. You can streamline your app development process and work on your app marketing as well if you know who are your targeted audiences?
To decide this, you may ask yourself:
What is the average age of my targeted audience?
What could be their interests?
Which products they are already using and buying?
What they would like to buy?
How will they find you?
Answers to such questions may help you understand how exactly your application should look, feel, and behave? It will eventually shape the mobile e-commerce app you build. Let us understand this with the help of an example. Let us assume you own a B2C fashion outlet and want to showcase your products to a specific set of audiences through ASO (App Store Optimization). A B2B merchant will be more focused on quick checkouts and frequent, repeat purchases. A merchant that sells products offline through traditional brick and mortar stores may want to establish a digital touchpoint (along with a physical store) to reach out to potential customers. Having chosen your targeted market, just move on and proceed with the app development idea.
Having decided your e-commerce app goals and targeted audiences, the next key decision is to choose the right technology from the stack. You may want to hire a Magento developer or a team of Shopify experts depending on the type of app you wish to create. For e-commerce merchants, the options in technology include Native Apps and PWAs (Progressive Web Apps). For building native apps, you will need to help of a trusted iOS or Android app development company.
However, if you wish to build a PWA, you may need the help and support of a website development company with rich exposure in building engaging and intriguing progressive web apps that help you acquire and retain more customers. PWAs are next-gen websites that deliver a similar experience in terms of interactivity, performance, and speed as a native app does. However, you do not need to download these apps and they are not available on app stores. They are a great option for businesses having abundant mobile traffic on their brand website and those with a limited budget.
On the other hand, native apps are downloaded from an app store (such as Google Play Store, Apple App Store, etc.) and stored on the mobile of a user. Quite unlike PWAs, native apps do not work across all platforms rather you need to develop apps separately for each platform. So, if you want a PWA for your business, you will need the help of a web app and website development company whereas to help you build your native app, you will have to hire a mobile app development company specializing in your preferred platform – Android, iOS, Windows, etc.
Since the native apps are stored on the device (unlike PWAs), they make full use of device resources such as the operating system, camera, contacts, GPS, etc. Native apps offer the most optimized, best experience possible and they are intuitive & fast, feature native gestures (such as taps, swipes), have quick access to contacts, database, photo gallery, camera, etc. While many think that downloading native apps consumes some space in the device’s memory, it is also a great opportunity as the app is just a tap or swipe away. Millions of people App Store and Play Store weekly. If you can optimize your app on these stores (through ASO), you can enjoy more visitors and customers.
It is highly recommended that you prepare a clear list of app requirements and must-have app features & functionalities before you assign your app development project to your chosen iOS or Android app development company. Discuss your app requirements with the team that is going to work on it. Some key features & functionalities you may ask your app developers to include in the app are:
– Push messages
– Wish list
– Easy & secure checkout
– Great user interface (UI)
– Seamless user experience (UX)
– Custom elements of branding & design
– Multiple payment options
– A rating and review system
– Backend synchronization
– Integration of social media
– Native experience with features such as taps, touches, swipes, and optimal screen use
Once you have prepared the list of the above-mentioned features and additional functionalities & features you looking for in your app, the next step is to decide your budget & process for it.
Once you have decided about the features and functionalities in your e-commerce app, you must make your budget also clear. The important question in this regard is how much money, time, and resources you will need to invest in your app? And the level of flexibility you expect in your app when sending out notifications & push messages, changing your app design, adding new features, etc.?
Depending on the budget and flexibility you expect from your app, you can choose between a couple of main options including:
– Developing a customized app
– Making use of SaaS, off-the-shelf solution
When you ask for a customized e-commerce application, you will have to hire a skilled and experienced development team for building your e-commerce app from the scratch. This is what top and reputed brands such as Amazon do. Reasons behind choosing customized apps include:
If you have a moderate to lavish budget, you can get bespoke apps that meet your custom needs and expectations. Having said this, it is important to understand that custom-tailored apps tend to be quite expensive in building and maintaining. These apps can also turn out to be a challenge if you hire the wrong team of developers or an incompetent development agency.
One of the pros of customized apps is that you can create an app exactly as per your vision. Other than this, there is no limit on creativity, features, functionalities, and choice of operating systems you want to integrate your app with. However, the flip side of this scenario is the cost, which is too high as you need to hire a team of developers, internal resources, bear with the long process of development, maintain the app and update it when needed, and keep fixing the app according to user feedback and frequently changing requirements.
On the other hand, if you choose a SaaS solution for the same, you don’t really need to worry about all these aspects. SaaS solutions are best suited for small businesses with a very limited budget. However, a lot of big companies also make use of SaaS solutions. SaaS-based e-commerce apps are easy to launch and fast because a smart plugin is all you need to turn your online store into a native app or a PWA. With SaaS-based solutions, you just need to pick your desired features/integrations.
However, often, SaaS-based e-commerce solutions offer all the features that a web store will need to be successful on the web and mobile. The pros of using SaaS-based solutions for your online store include lower costs of setting up and monthly maintenance, quick launch (usually within a few weeks), comes equipped with all the features a web store needs for mobile access (such as push messages, notifications, look books, one-click checkouts, and easy navigation), and is easy to integrate with online stores. Furthermore, SaaS-based solutions meet all your expectations without requiring coding (in most cases) and all features are regularly updated for free.
However, SaaS-based solutions have some cons as well. For example, it doesn’t work well if you have strict requirements. In that case, you will better do with a custom app development option.
While the focus of our discussion, so far, has been e-commerce application development, it is important to talk about the marketing aspect of the application as well. Why do we need to discuss app marketing here? It is because having a great application with an amazing user interface and superb functionality is not enough. After all, the ultimate goal of launching an app is to have maximum downloads, installs, great product reviews, and maximum purchases. If an app fails in marketing, then all these are also affected badly.
Now that you know the most important steps to create e-commerce apps, all you need to do is make up your mind, envision the app features & functionalities, and get going. Hiring a reputed and capable e-commerce development company will help you get your dream e-commerce app and ensure success in your respective endeavor.