How to build a mobile app for e-commerce website

No matter what kind of boutique, shop, or store you run, you need to make customers like your brand. Apart from high product demand and the customer service, there is still a lot of things to improve. It’s time to ask: “Maybe I should build a mobile app for my e-commerce site?” Here are two main reasons to do it.

It’s very convenient

Customizable search engines give your customers the ability to find what they’re looking for, using a mobile device. The application, which tells users what products are currently in stock and where they can find them, makes shopping a lot easier. Offering convenient merchandise features for your customer’s needs through your application can significantly boost your sales.

Customers’ satisfaction will increase

Users like to read other people’s reviews and see how others rate different services or products. Some collaborative forum features will create a community around your company and promote your brand.

How much does it cost to build a mobile app for e-commerce website

When it comes to the e-commerce mobile app development, it all depends on a studio you hire. Besides, the prices for development projects are always different.

Simple applications, which include only some basic functionality and don’t need backend infrastructure or integration with third-party APIs, are the most cost-efficient. For instance, the features of such apps may include a feed list, standard UI components, map markers, and simple filters. The average team of e-commerce mobile app developers will need about 500 hours to finish such project, and it will cost $30,000.

Applications of middling complexity usually include real-time chats, custom UI features, handset and tablet adaptation, payment features, integration with APIs, and a simple backend server. It takes from 600 to 800 hours to create such apps. In this case, all e-commerce mobile app development services will cost you $45,000 – $55,000.

Some complex e-commerce mobile apps features may include advanced functionality, such as real-time synchronization, audio/video processing, integrations with third-party services, and so on. An e-commerce mobile app development company will build such application in 800 hours, and the price will be around $60,000 – $80,000.

Choosing between cross-platform and native apps

Comparing the benefits of cross-platform and native applications may take a while, but, nevertheless, the choice is obvious. In this article, we will try to prove that native apps are always better.

At first, let’s take a look at the types of cross-platform apps.

1) Applications created with JavaScript, CSS, or HTML

Some mobile devices work slowly with JavaScript components, so these apps usually show bad performance.

2) Hybrid cross-platform solutions (mobile websites and native app shells per platform)

Such kind of multi-platform application may look attractive because Android and iOS can support JavaScript code without a web-view. But V8 Context on Android and JavaScriptCore on iOS are undocumented frameworks, so your project may fail. The interaction between native and JavaScript may create more issues than solutions.

3) HTML5 mobile websites.

A few companies have tried using HTML5 to build their mobile apps, but the result didn’t meet their expectations. There is hope that HTML5 for the mobile web may have a bright future, but only if developers build the tools for supporting it.

Why does cross-platform seem attractive to people?

There are a few factors that attract publishers to cross-platform mobile application development.

The one sphere that suits cross-platform is mobile gaming. Game developers use Cocos2d-x and Corona SDKs to add physics to 2D games with the engine built around Box2D. Besides, there is a game development ecosystem called Unity, which allows programmers to create interactive 3D games.

Native benefits

Accommodating the platform-specific user experience on a cross-platform app may be difficult. There are five reasons why the native mobile app development approach is better.

  1. Your code always runs much faster.
  2. You can integrate new features easily.
  3. With native technologies, the implementation of hardware-related functions like multitouch events, gestures, and geo-location tracking becomes much easier.
  4. If something goes wrong during the app development, iOS or Android will likely get you a tool for solving your problems.
  5. Designing an application for Android differs from the same task done for iPhone.

Some major mobile app design development steps

Here are five steps for building your app from scratch.

Define must have features of the app

Before you start to create a mobile app for e-commerce project, take a pen, a piece of paper and decide what you want to implement in the app. The app development starts with specifying the idea. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What particularly your app should do?
  • How can you make it attractive for users?
  • What tasks will it be able to handle?
  • In which way it can simplify your customers’ lives?

You will never succeed if you don’t set the right goals. So, before you start, you must already choose an e-commerce mobile app builder and know what you want.

Discover best competitors’ apps

Now you need to check the uniqueness of your app idea because someone may have already tried it. If it’s so, you can simply give up, or examine the competitor’s app to make yours better. Read as many comments and reviews as you can. Find out which features users like or dislike and use this information to change your project. Return to step one and make changes to your current idea.

Create Mockups (wireframes) of future design

In this part, you take the design idea and make it clearer and more functional. This step is important, as it will become the basis for your application’s building. You can use one of the wireframing websites to test your design ideas. Try few of them to find one that suits you best.

Web Design creation

Here you create the first fully-functional user interface. The UI is a crucial part of your application because the main thing that attracts users is your app’s look and simplicity.

Testing web design

To create the best e-commerce mobile app design, it is necessary to run as many tests as possible. When creating the design of your app, pay attention to the feedback you get from the testers, and adjust the navigation and design correspondently. During the second round of testing, you need to check both a user interface and a functioning application. Make sure that your app is visually appealing, and everything works right at this point.

When the app is complete, run more tests to be sure that it looks and works as planned. Such platforms as Pixate and Proto.io will help you. They allow for adding clickable links for testing the navigation inside the app.

How to choose the best framework for mobile development

Building a mobile app with at least some knowledge of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS is rather easy. The main benefit of using web technology to create the application is portability. With the right packager/compiler, you can install and port the app to various platforms. Here are five best mobile frameworks that make it possible.

1) Sencha Touch

Sencha Touch is a mobile framework that runs on CSS3 and HTML5 and provides animations, APIs, and other components compatible with most of the browsers and mobile platforms. It supports PhoneGap and Cordova. Also, Sencha Touch has a few of themes for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and other platforms.

2) jQuery Mobile

jQuery Mobile is a mobile development framework for creating cross-mobile-platform applications. It supports a lot of platforms, from a smartphone to desktop, e-reader, or tablet devices. jQuery Mobile includes user interfaces optimized for touch-enabled and mobile devices.

3) PhoneGap/Cordova

PhoneGap/Cordova has JavaScript APIs that connect to such functions of the gadget as a compass, camera, geolocation, or contacts. PhoneGap/Cordova allows for creating a mobile app without the native programming language, using a framework instead. It compiles the application with the help of the platform’s SDK, and you can install it on any supported platform.

4) Ionic

Ionic is an HTML5 mobile framework that provides the best performance by leveraging hardware acceleration. It is perfect for building an interactive app with Angular.js. Besides, Ionic comes with a font icon set called Ionicons, and a lot of reusable HTML classes for creating the mobile user interface.

5) Ratchet

This framework has of UI and JavaScript plugins for developing simple mobile apps. In version 2.0, Ratchet also got Ratcheticon – a set of font icons and two UI themes for Android and iOS.

Payments

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is, basically, an outlet or an interface for your payment system which accepts input payment information. It’s a virtual credit card reader.

A payment gateway is crucial for the e-commerce app, as it creates a secure path from the user to your payment system. It encrypts the data and handles the connection to the payment processor. A gateway keeps your banking information and credit card numbers safe and protects your data.

What is a payment processor?

It’s the part of the payment system needed for execution of actual transactions. The processor sends an authorization request with the transaction details to customer’s bank or credit card. Then it receives an authorization response that shows whether the transaction was denied or approved.

Top E-Commerce Mobile Apps

Here is the list of five most popular e-commerce mobile applications.

Groupon:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.groupon&hl=en

Amazon:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.mShop.android.shopping&hl=en

Amazon Local:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.ember.android&hl=en

Walmart:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.walmart.android&hl=en

Apple Store:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/apple-store/id375380948?mt=8

Mobile payment processing frameworks

To enable in-app payments in your custom mobile e-commerce application, you must integrate one of these payment processing frameworks. With them, your app will store payment information and process transactions.

PayPal – https://developer.paypal.com/

Stripe – https://stripe.com/

Apple Pay – https://developer.apple.com/apple-pay/

Google Wallet – http://www.google.com/wallet/business/payments/

Amazon Payments – https://payments.amazon.com/home

Analytics for mobile App e-Commerce

Each of these solutions will help you understand how customers navigate your app and identify any obstacles that keep your users from buying.

Google Mobile Analytics – https://www.google.com/analytics/mobile/

Parse Analytics – https://parse.com/products/analytics

Flurry Analytics – https://developer.yahoo.com/analytics/

Adobe Analytics – http://www.adobe.com/solutions/digital-analytics/mobile-web-apps-analytics.html

MixPanel – https://mixpanel.com/

App Store Optimization

These tools can indicate how your application is ranking on Google Play or App Store. They show competitor analysis and keyword popularity, so you can adjust some descriptions, titles, and keywords for your app.

Sensor Tower – https://sensortower.com/

App Annie – https://www.appannie.com/

Keyword Tool for the App Store – http://keywordtool.io/app-store

App Codes – http://www.appcodes.com/