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Guide to Building eCommerce Mobile Apps in 2024


To say that mobile devices have become an extension of human existence might not be an understatement. And it is expected since the devices themselves have evolved so much to offer an ecosystem of tech-enabled capabilities right in our palms. Such is the way technology is progressing – what is unfathomable for mobiles at a point in time, gets actualized shortly as a “premium experience”, only to be filtered to mainstream devices in the next instant. Apart from just being conversation tools, they are cameras, media players, GPS devices, web browsers, and a lot more – all rolled into one.

This is where mobile apps have had a better opportunity to foster user engagement than web apps. With wide-ranging device capabilities in the mix, mobile apps have better options to offer. To add to this mobile apps are dedicated, more convenient to use, and leverage the ubiquity of mobile devices. Maybe this is why “apps” is an accepted acronym for mobile apps and not web apps!

Naturally, MCommerce is the way forward for businesses. With just web apps they are limited in their options to scale. But with mobile apps, they can transcend boundaries, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Expectedly, building eCommerce mobile apps is a compelling consideration for entrepreneurs looking to have a strong market impact with their business.

So, here is a nuanced guide to building eCommerce mobile apps in 2024.


MCommerce Market – A Tsunami of opportunity

As a consumer, the moment you have some purchase in mind, would you look for a laptop/pc? Or simply pick up your mobile device and tap onto the mobile application of your preferred eCommerce platform?

Here the eCommerce business with the mobile app you chose, has won the race in the competitive eCommerce market, leapfrogging those without one.

Mobile devices are gaining accelerated popularity as a preferred consumer touch point in their purchase journey – not just for eCommerce but any buying decision. According to Statista, 40% of all online retail purchases in the US took place through mobile devices. That is 2 out of every 5 across the industry! This also means that eCommerce businesses without a mobile app have to compete for the remaining 60% market share.

That said, each business can leverage a distinct MCommerce strategy. Discussed in the next section are some of the ways popular eCommerce brands position the value of their mobile apps by leveraging their capabilities.

The industry’s leading players have used the mCommerce opportunity to propel their businesses. There are multiple dimensions to the way they have been able to open up opportunities by way of mobile apps – to make inroads in the market. Let’s read about these below.

Unifying both in-app and in-store sales – Walmart

Walmart, the American retail giant has been in business since the ‘60s. Its eCommerce strategy catalyzed a resurgence of sorts in the early 2000s. A big part of that strategy is leveraging its brick-and-mortar stores, and unifying both online and offline sales experience. Mobile apps play a major role in accomplishing that for Walmart. Apart from online ordering they offer features such as curbside pickup of orders and even in-store shopping. According to the company, 75% of all online orders were picked up in-store, giving insights into how the app has been pivotal in enhancing customer engagement and eventually sales.

Offer Features to Unify Online and Offline Sales

Augment customer retention – Starbucks

When it comes to fostering digital engagement via innovative use of a mobile app, Starbucks leads the way. The coffee retail chain takes personalization to a whole new level, and a key amongst it is an effective loyalty program. The app also allows consumers to pay for orders online. Moreover, there are contextual product recommendations, new offers, and more.

The CEO of Starbucks, Laxman Narasimran shared this with PYMNTS: “We have digital relationships worldwide with over 75 million customers in terms of their last 90-day activity…. So, we can reach our customers, and we have multiple levers in terms of how we deal with any uncertainty that we might see.” According to the data company, 51% of 1800 US consumers shared they are using Starbucks’ loyalty programs, emphasizing the value of such mobile-apps-driven programs in driving sales, fostering consumer loyalty and eventually assuring retention.

Inspire users with great shopping ideas – Ikea

Mobile apps can complement other consumer touchpoints for businesses, apart from the apps themselves. Ikea, the Swedish online furniture retailer, provides a convenient way for consumers to browse their product offerings. Rather than making a trip to the store, consumers can utilize the convenience of mobile apps to go through the product range.

A Mobile-first strategy – ASOS

ASOS is a fashion marketplace based in the UK. Their USP is offering “runaway-ready attire” at affordable prices. The target audience is typically youth in their 20’s and early 30’s. So, both, their operative niche and the target audience make a good case for utilizing a mobile-first eCommerce strategy. Moreover, they have leveraged nifty mobile-app features for an engaging buying experience.

Leverage third party platforms/services – Uber

Mobile devices are an ecosystem of apps of all types. Media players, maps, and most importantly social media apps allow businesses to offer a connection with apps the users love using. This connection is built on contextual shopping experiences.

The best instance is on-demand service apps like Uber which utilizes pre-built apps in the system to provide its customers with services i.e. the app itself focuses on other core processes while the mapping technology is of third party sources such as Google Maps.

Although Uber is an example of core services – there are other instances where companies have leveraged third party apps to foster consumer engagement. Starbucks does this by inviting users to identify songs that they listen to bein played in stores, download and save to custom playlists on Spotify’s app. Similarly ASOS offers “style match” and eBay offers “Find it on eBay” allowing users to upload snapshots of products from social media apps like Instagram, and find the best possible match on the platform.

Capitalize on mobile device hardware – Multiple

This is something that most mobile apps do in one way or the other. For instance, consider each time a consumer completes checkout on an eCommerce mobile app. On most cases, the checkout process completes automatically, without having to manually enter security codes. Similarly, apps like Ikea allow users to visualize a product (furniture) in their living room via AR using device cameras. These are some of the many ways mobile apps have been leveraging the hardware capabilities of mobile devices to offer higher engagement.

The examples shared above cover a variety of use cases in which mobile apps can be used to have an impact on the market. Let’s see how to build an eCommerce mobile app that allows you to execute a game plan similar to theirs.

Mobile app features – Cultivating Impactful UX

Startups can take a cue from the popular players discussed above. These set the bar of what can be done to engage your target user base positively. But how can you execute what these companies have been able to do?

It is by way of having the right set of features in your eCommerce mobile apps. Discussed below are some pivotal features that give eCommerce businesses the tools to carry out their business plan.

Reports & Analytics

Unlike in a brick-and-mortar store, where you have access to user reactions/feedback in real-time, digital experiences have to be measured by way of data. The data collected via analytics tools give you that crucial insight into what users on your mobile app want. It is a way of understanding their reactions, likes, and dislikes. Such information can drive your business decisions to offer a more personalized experience to users.

Seamless User Journey

In an age of turbocharged lifestyles, holding onto the lessening attention span of users warrants a well-planned consideration from mobile apps. From logical workflows, to well laid-out navigation to one-click checkouts, all should lead to a buttery-smooth user journey, guiding the user through the process seamlessly – consequently, catalyzing higher conversions.

Launch a Mobile App with Contemporary UI/UX

Multi-Channel Sales

Allow sellers with existing brick-and-mortar stores to unify both offline and online sales. Build an app like Walmart with features like BOPIS, or Buy Online Pay In Store and give buyers with varying priorities, access to the app for checkout, and the option to collect the product from physical stores.

Push Notifications

Keep your users engaged between periods of inactivity and otherwise. Use the push notification feature of mobile devices with your app to send out marketing messages or offers and don’t let your app get lost in the plethora of other apps on devices. Zomato, an eCommerce company based in India, is a notable name in this regard. It makes use of engaging notifications, laced with crafty wit, to keep users engaged and connected with the brand.

Voice Search

Whether it’s Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa or the experimental Bixby by Samsung – mobile app technology keeps innovating to provide that extra cushion of convenience to the user. Build an app like Amazon, and offer an Alexa-like user experience with voice search.

Loyalty Programs like Spotify

One of the major triggers of engagement: Loyalty Programs offer businesses the opportunity to entice buyers into using their mobile apps. Rewards in the form of credit points, coupons, or other marketing schemes encourage customers for repeat business and result in higher customer retention rates.

Interconnected Social Media Experience

The way social media has fused with the lives of individuals, presents an unparalleled opportunity for businesses to leverage. The mobile app can be designed to amplify engagement by allowing buyers to share on social media platforms. Moreover, with features like social media log-in, users are further pampered with convenience, helping the business with higher chances of onboarding.

Build an eCommerce Mobile App – Capture the Opportunity

Significantly, if you have analyzed the approach taken by popular players, most had the mobile apps in addition to the web app. While this also depends upon your business plan, you will be restricted if you operate just with mobile apps. The management from the Admin, and for the sellers has multiple processes that would need a web app and a system. The mobile apps function as an add-on for buyers.

That said, let’s see the steps towards building your eCommerce mobile app:

1. Research the Market

Any business undertaking would start with understanding the market, and knowing the opportunity where you would fit in. An eCommerce business is no different. However, some businesses within eCommerce leverage mobile apps more than others.

2. Define your Goals

Create a definitive framework, albeit with flexibility for retrospective changes. Get answers to these questions: Which is my target audience and what are their needs? how would the business solve these needs in the market? What will be my defining USP that will set it apart from the existing competition?

3. Define a Brand Identity

If this is your first business venture, you can curate a brand that best reflects your business goals, in a way that users can relate to and experience. This message will be fundamental to your marketing efforts later on, and will be the fulcrum around which your business will engage with users.

4. Choose Mobile App Features

Once you have a business plan in place, decide on the features you will need for your mobile app. As illustrated by popular players discussed above. Each of these had a plan, best suited to their business strategy. Their mobile apps were designed around that strategy, with features to support it.

5. Build your eCommerce Mobile App

Well this is straightforward. Or is it?

Yes, you can approach eCommerce mobile app development companies, and work towards designing your eCommerce mobile apps from scratch. This process will be dependent on your needs. But expect costs between $10,000 to even as high as $50,000. The time required can be 4-8 months.

So, before you proceed further with this, there are some considerations for you to ponder…

If you would note, this blog focuses majorly on getting started with your business, and not on the steps of building an eCommerce app that you would be worrying about. Because that is how your eCommerce entrepreneurial journey is expected to unfold. Building an app is an integral part of it, but not the only consideration for you to ponder. That is the reason why it is recommended to utilize turnkey mobile apps available in the market, that allow you to get started without worrying about developing an app from scratch. By doing so, you are saving time, resources, and bypassing a tedious app development plan that will eat up a significant amount of your overall efforts.

Get Readymade eCommerce Mobile and Web Apps

Try Yo!Kart as your Business Success Partner

YoKart is a leading turnkey solution for eCommerce. It is self-hosted and builds multivendor marketplaces right out of the box. A multivendor marketplace is an eCommerce business like Amazon, where the business owner would invite multiple third-party sellers to sell to the buyers.

YoKart gives entrepreneurs a complete set of readymade apps – both web apps and mobile apps. It comes with mobile apps for both Android and iOS ecosystem(s) and robust web apps for marketplace operator(s) and sellers.

YoKart comes with essential eCommerce features and pre-integrated APIs right off the bat. For instance, the solution offers all the features that we have discussed in the sections above. Effectively that means that you can effectuate the business strategies discussed above with a YoKart-powered eCommerce business.

To Sum It Up

To win in eCommerce, one needs to give users tailored experiences that give them reasons to keep coming back to the brand. While web apps can give a good platform to start with, they are limited in their ability to engage buyers. Mobile apps do have a lot more to offer – they have more options when it comes to engagement. eCommerce businesses that offer mobile apps along with their web apps, can stand out from their competitors. Moreover, as the leading players have demonstrated with their success, eCommerce businesses with mobile apps have more options to execute result-oriented business plans.

The easiest way to start an eCommerce business with mobile apps is by using turnkey solutions that give ready-made solutions with essential eCommerce features. YoKart, a leading name for readymade eCommerce solutions, offers web and mobile apps. And since Yokart mobile apps are developed by the same team that has designed the web app, users will get a homogeneous experience with both. Moreover, mobile apps can be opted from the start for the best value, and since they are self-hosted, they can be added at a later stage as well.

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