By the end of this year, experts estimate that consumers in the U.S. will spend approximately $933.30 billion on e-commerce. That will account for 15.3 percent of total retail sales.
Clearly, e-commerce is here to stay, and it’s only going to become more popular in the future. Have you been thinking about creating an e-commerce app? If so, now is the perfect time to do so.
Read on to learn everything you need to know to build a great e-commerce app.
E-Commerce Apps vs E-Commerce Stores
Before we explore the specifics of building an e-commerce app, let’s touch on the difference between these types of apps and an e-commerce store.
An e-commerce store is simply a website where people can shop online for your products. An e-commerce app, on the other hand, is an extension of your online store.
People can download and access an e-commerce app from their smartphones and mobile devices without having to mess around with a web browser or deal with a non-mobile-friendly website.
E-commerce apps typically require more dedication and resources than an e-commerce store. It takes more work to get them up and running and ensure they continue to function properly.
Why Build an E-Commerce App?
Why do you need to build an e-commerce app? Isn’t your business’s online store enough?
For some business owners, an e-commerce store is sufficient to keep the business running smoothly. However, there are certain benefits an e-commerce app provides that an e-commerce store cannot, including the following:
Better Brand Recognition
No matter what kind of business you run, chances are you’d like to boost your brand recognition. Building an e-commerce app is a great way to do this.
A well-designed, functional app makes it easier for people to learn about your business. It also helps them to check out what you have to offer, even if they’re on the go and don’t have access to a computer.
Mobile apps allow for easier communication with your target audience. Through the app, people can connect with your business 24/7 and access basic information about what you have to offer.
You can even set your app up with a FAQs section so people can learn more about your brand at any time, or you can invest in a customer service chatbot that provides answers to common questions and allows your customers to feel more connected to your brand.
Better Mobile Customer Experience
Thanks to smartphones, people can search for all kinds of things while they’re on the go. The problem, though, is that smartphone web browsers aren’t always the most efficient.
From trying to type in a web address on a tiny keyboard to constantly pinching the screen to try to zoom in on a product image or read text, a lot of people get frustrated trying to shop online with their smartphones.
The good news is that mobile apps solve a lot of these problems. They provide a better customer experience and make it easy for your customers to search for their favorite products, add them to their cart, and check out in no time.
Because an e-commerce app can improve the user experience for your customers, it can also lead to increased engagement from them. In other words, people will be more likely to interact with your app (and, by default, your business) when you take the time to design it well and include the right kinds of features.
For example, GPS features save your customers from having to input all of their shipping information manually, and voice search features help them to look for specific items without having to worry about typing the wrong word into the search bar.
Increased Conversion Rate
If you want to attract new customers and boost your business’s profitability, a mobile app is a great investment. It can increase the average order value, reduce cart abandonment rates, increase customer loyalty rates, and more.
All of these benefits typically lead to higher conversion rates and a better bottom line.
Increased Customer Retention Rate
An e-commerce app can also increase your customer retention rate, too. If you want people to come back to your business and shop with you again and again, a mobile app allows them to skip steps and make purchases faster. This increased convenience is key when it comes to retaining customers and keeping them interested in what you have to offer.
How to Build an E-Commerce App
Are you convinced that an e-commerce app is a good idea for your business? Are you eager to get started and enjoy all the benefits listed above?
Your next job is to start making a plan to build an app for your business. Here are some steps you can take to build a well-designed, highly functional e-commerce app:
Consider Your Audience
When you’re getting ready to start any big project for your business, including building an app, a good first step is to clarify who your target audience is.
What is the average age of your target customer? What’s their gender? Are they Android or iPhone users?
Be as specific as you can when you’re creating buyer personas and assessing your audience. Remember, the more you know about the people who patronize your business, the easier it will be for you to create an app that they will want to download and use.
Identify Essential Features
Next, start thinking about the essential features your e-commerce app will need to have.
How will people be using it? Will it be exclusively for shopping, or are you going to include other elements, such as gamification features or a blog?
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what are and aren’t essential features for your app. However, the following are some examples that most e-commerce apps have in common:
- Authentication features (social media login, two-step login, etc)
- Product search, broken down into various categories and sub-categories
- Rating and review systems to encourage customer engagement
- Multiple secure payment methods
- The ability to enable push notifications
- Robust customer support (chat, email, phone, FAQ section, etc.)
- Accurate product tracking
Identify Key Design Elements
Once you’ve figured out the essential features your e-commerce app will have, you can move on and start thinking about the design. In other words, how do you want your app to look?
When you’re addressing the design aspects of your app, it’s a good idea to reflect on your business’s branding as a whole. What colors do you use in your packaging and logo, for example? Is there a specific font that people associate with your brand?
Make sure your app design lines up with the rest of your branding design. This creates a more cohesive look and improves brand recognition for your business.
Choose Your Platform
Is your app going to be available on iOS devices? Android devices? Both?
There’s no one right answer here, but this is why assessing your audience is so important. If you only make your app available on iOS devices but the majority of your audience uses Android, you’re going to have a hard time seeing the kinds of results you’re after.
Partner with an App Developer
Can you build an e-commerce app on your own?
If you have a decent amount of app development knowledge and experience, you probably can. However, most business owners don’t have the experience (or, frankly, the time) to build their own app from scratch.
This is where partnering with an app development team comes in handy.
Look for a development team that has experience building and designing e-commerce apps like the one you want to create. Check out their portfolio and ask for references from past clients to get a sense of their work and find out whether or not they’re a good fit for you.
Test Your App
Before you get ready to launch your app on the app store, you need to test it and make sure everything works properly. Your app development team will be able to carry out a series of tests to assess its functionality and identify potential glitches before people start downloading and using the app.
Launch Your App
Finally, you’ll be ready to launch your app and make it available to download. This isn’t where the hard work ends, though.
After you’ve launched the app, pay attention to the response you get from your audience. Are people generally happy with it? What kinds of reviews are they leaving? Does the app seem to be boosting your sales numbers?
Take note of what people are saying about the app, both positive and negative, and use that feedback to refine and improve it for the future. E-commerce apps almost always need some tweaking after they’ve been launched, so don’t panic if you and your team have to make adjustments.
Our E-Commerce App Development Process
At Alpha Bravo Development, we have a tried and true process we implement for developing all kinds of apps, from social media apps to e-commerce apps. Here’s a breakdown of our process:
Research and Prototyping
We start every app development project with thorough research and a careful prototyping process.
First, we dive deep into your customer base, their interests, and their preferences. That way, we can understand the app’s target audience and create a product that is sure to catch their attention.
During the prototyping process, we create a model of your app. This model isn’t fully functional, but it does help us to figure out the layout and design. It also helps us to avoid running into a lot of unpleasant surprises later.
When you’re satisfied with the prototype of your app, we’ll move on to the backend development phase. Backend development includes all of the “behind-the-scenes” work that ensures all elements of your app run smoothly.
We know that issues on the backend are often expensive to fix and typically lead to issues on the frontend. With careful backend development, though, we can avoid a lot of these problems and create a better, more functional app.
When we’re satisfied with the backend development (and we’ve cleared everything with you, of course), we move on to the frontend development.
Frontend development involves developing and designing the aspects of the app that your customers are going to engage with. This includes the home screen, dashboards, product pages, and more.
During this stage, we work hard to ensure your app looks good and is easy to navigate. We want to provide the smoothest user experience possible, and we know that good frontend design helps with that.
We believe in testing at Alpha Bravo Development. We won’t just launch your app without first making sure everything works the way it’s supposed to.
Our team puts every app we work on through a rigorous quality assurance process. We test all aspects of the app multiple times and, if we notice any issues, we address them right away.
We want you to have a successful launch, and we know that quality assurance plays a key role in making sure that happens.
Once we’ve completed the quality assurance portion of our process and you’ve given us your approval, we’ll launch your app on the app store so people can download and start using it.
From here, we also pay close attention to your app’s performance, including the number of downloads it gets and the ratings it receives through the app store. We then use this information to improve your app and make sure it continues to function properly.
Start Working on Your E-Commerce App Today
Now that you know more about the e-commerce app development process, it’s time to get started. At Alpha Bravo Development, our team has all the tools and experience needed to create a highly functional, well-designed app that helps you expand your business.
Contact us today to learn more about our e-commerce app development services or to sign up for a no-obligation quote (we’ll get back to you within 24 hours).