“If your plans don’t include mobile, your plans are not finished.”
Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola

Time dictates the rules and conditions of life to everyone. We have to adjust ourselves to new things almost every day. This progress influences our daily rhythm, habits, preferences, and ideas.

E-commerce turned out to be one of the greatest inventions of the Internet age. People have become too busy or maybe even too lazy to go shopping and gladly adopted this new way of buying things.Consumers order goods that can be found in the stores online in e-shops more and more often.

The e-commerce industry is one of the most influential at the time being. It is actually the largest one on the global market. Its retail sales are predicted to reach 2,05 trillion US dollars in 2016 with the further growth over the next years. 

Retails E-commerce Sales Worldwide
Retails E-commerce Sales Worldwide

The figures speak for themselves. More than 40% of Internet users make online purchases and it is not the limit. 

Such impressing data encourages a lot of entrepreneurs to start e-commerce business. It is not an easy burden to swim with such sharks as Amazon, eBay, AliExpress or Alibaba. The competition is really severe as there are about 12 million of online stores worldwide. But who said you wouldn’t make it? The secret is very simple: do your best to develop a good business strategy, work hard and keep up with the tendencies. 

The rapidly growing mobile industry has brought some corrections to our life in general and the way of doing business in particular. Mobile applications are the need of the hour. It is obvious especially if you visit app stores to check the total number of them there. 

E-commerce is exposed to that influence greatly. A new notion has been coined due to it. Now, retailers speak about mobile commerce more and more. It is a new milestone of the industry that has to be seriously considered by everyone aimed at reaching positive results.

Why is It So Important to Have an App for an E-Commerce Store?

No matter whether you only plan to open or already have an online store, it should be accompanied by a mobile shopping app. There is one mobile user out of three e-commerce clients. This means that one third of your potential customers may be either reached or lost. The first can be done only with the help of a mobile app for your e-commerce business. An e-shop can help you conquer more consumers than you could expect. Besides, the number of mobile users is growing. Just look at the stats provided by Statista for the United States only. The increment is significant and cannot go unheeded.

Mobile Buyers in the US
Mobile Buyers in the US

The U.S. and China are the two leading countries in mobile commerce. There are 191 million of smartphone users in the United States, 121.7 million of which used their devices for buying purposes in 2015. Chinese mobile users amount to 45% of the population. The three quarters of this number (75%) made purchases via their smartphones as of the beginning of 2016. 
 
Large companies, fresh startups, and even individuals are in constant search of new revenue streams. The same big fish Amazon built applications for their audience. Why would they have done it be it so irrelevant? Every business needs new sales channels, so don’t miss the opportunity.

One more reason to create an e-commerce mobile application is the increase of time spent on smartphones and tablets. The comScore reports it to be 62% of the whole time people devote to digital electronic devices. Apps take 54% of this number.

What is So Special about Mobile Apps for E-Commerce?

E-commerce has its own peculiarities that distinguish it from other industries. Of course, they always have to be taken into consideration. There are a lot of benefits they can bring if properly implemented and introduced in a mobile app.

Peculiarities of E-Commerce Apps
Peculiarities of E-Commerce Apps

So, here are some reasons in favor of developing a mobile app for an e-commerce store:

1. Push notifications
They are one of the greatest features mobile apps can boast. In such a way you always stay in touch with your users. Every message you send them goes directly to their devices even if the app is not opened. Any proposal or important information won’t be missed. Push notifications encourage your clients to open the application now or later each time they receive them. 

2. Brand loyalty
Once an app is downloaded and installed on a phone its shortcut appears on the home screen. Every time customers use their smartphones they see your application. Its high visibility always reminds them of your brand. Users takes their devices together with apps everywhere. So applications are usually the first thing they refer to when the need arises.

3. User experience
Apps are easy and convenient to use. There is no need to look for any websites and perform additional actions to access them. A client just clicks an icon and voila, everything is at hand. Good experience and great performance are provided when apps are tailored specially for a definite platform (Android, iOS).  

4. Gathering and analyzing data
Your e-commerce app will help you understand how your clients behave and what their preferences are. It is very important in terms of being responsive to their needs and improving your services. If you know your audience well and care about them, they will reciprocate.

5. Direct marketing
This is closely connected with push notifications that are the main marketing tool in mobile commerce. Apps make it possible to send coupons, special offers and good deals to your customers. This kind of  interaction with them can increase repeat purchasing. 

6. Speed and security
Due to being easy to access and use apps also make it faster to order things and to pay for them. This is a more secure way too. Mobile applications are not so vulnerable to external threats such as viruses or scams. Here your personal data is safe.

7. Cross-channel customer experience
Your audience may be very different. To meet their demands, various channels should be involved. Each client will choose the one that best fits their needs. As you already know, a lot of them will prefer mobile apps. 

8. Flexibility
Apps can be used in online and offline modes. This is a great advantage as users can access basic information and catalogues of goods even without a stable Internet connection.

9. Social sharing
Those of your clients who like to use social networks and show their friends there what they buy will gladly share great offers or new interesting products of your store. This is a nice way of advertising that can be equaled to recommendations to some extent. 

10. Caching
Once an app is opened for the first time all memory consuming elements are stored to make its further loads faster.

11. Geopositioning integration
It is very useful if you have a brick and mortar store too. Users can be notified about your special offers if they reach its location.

12. Using inbuilt features of your phone
Apps are easily integrated with some features of smartphones and can benefit from them a lot. It is very convenient for users to activate their camera, microphone or GPS to find or share some information right from an application.

13. In-store use
One more benefit for those who have stores with physical locations. Clients could use an app to scan QR-codes to get more information about products. Alternatively, consumers could purchase goods in e-shops and pick them up in stores after testing. 

14. Increase in sales
This final advantage is actually one of the main goals of any business. Mobile apps boost this process due to all or a part of the aforementioned benefits.

A Mobile App or a Website?

Mobile App vs. Website
Mobile App vs. Website

If you research the matter you will notice that there is a strong debate about this question. Mobile responsive websites have a great number of supporters. Indeed, it seems to be a good solution to save time and money be there no ifs, ands, or buts.

The best argument to encourage e-commerce retailers to build mobile apps can be derived from the above-stated benefits they bring. Your website will not provide you with such opportunities. It is, of course, necessary to make its source code respond to mobile browsers to ensure good usability but that’s not all. An app is a must-have nowadays. Your mobile strategy is not full without it.

As the owner of an e-commerce store you have to make sure all of your clients have smooth and flawless experience regardless of what device they use.

What are the Essential Features?

Essential Features of E-Commerce Apps
Essential Features of E-Commerce Apps

E-commerce mobile app development can be very time and effort consuming. It is not a piece of cake because of the industry specifics mentioned previously. Moreover, it is not enough only to make an application. It will require constant support and improvement. 

Nevertheless, it’s not as scary as it seems. The first thing you should do is find an experienced e-commerce mobile development company. This will relieve you from a great deal of activities connected with your future application. Everyone should do their job. A professional team will be able to take care of everything. They will not only develop your app, but also do project management, hold organizational meetings, and help you choose necessary features.

The latter point really matters. Functions determine how successful your product will be as users pay great attention to them. 

There is a compulsory set of features any e-commerce app should have: 

  • Simplicity in user experience
    Intuitiveness and interactiveness are very important in this regard. Minimalistic design will complement the overall picture. It is not good to overload users with an abundance of buttons, animations, or extreme mix of colours.

  • Easy navigation
    Everything from the first till the last screen should work seamlessly and be clear. An app will benefit from a simple layout. Users usually don’t like when they get lost and cannot understand what to do next.

  • Simple and quick registration process
    You will barely find people who have nothing against answering a lot of questions when signing up. The main idea here is to make the whole procedure very brief and “painless”. It will save the time and nerves of your users and they will appreciate that.

  • Push notifications
    Of, course, they are on the list. You cannot go without them if you plan to do some direct marketing and keep your clients informed about the latest updates, best price of the day, or new arrivals.

  • Analytics
    It is necessary to keep track of users’ behavior in your app. This is the main source of information for you. Understanding the situation you are able to take actions immediately. The reward is revenue increase.

  • Reliable app content
    Try not to be pushy with what you present and sell. No one likes it. Your content should be concise but informative. Unique selling proposition is not about how much you write but what and how you write.

  • Security
    It is of great importance especially in apps where users deal with payments. Your development team should make your app resistant to any data leaks. No compromise here.

  • Customization
    Your clients need to know they matter. Providing room for personalization you show them that you care and have a strong desire to fulfill their expectations and wishes. 

There are two more questions to be answered: how much it would cost to build an e-commerce mobile app and what platform to choose.

The cost depends on the time of development and the number of developers who work on your app. According to Lean startup it is recommended to start from an MVP and then go ahead with further versions of the product. The listed features are foremost and should be implemented before the first release. MVP usually takes up to 3-6 "man-months" of development, so be ready to plan your budget accordingly.

As for the platform, it is very individual and is influenced by a lot of factors. Still, one general recommendation would be to consider custom native apps only (Android, iOS). If you would like to achieve the utmost performance, it is better to quit the cross-platform development e-commerce app ideas. Native solutions will also give you access to native features and ensure brand visibility.

What about Real Examples?

goPuff is an e-commerce project built by MLSDev for one of our clients. 

goPuff App
goPuff App

It is a very quick and convenient way of buying products online (via the website) or using the apps for iOS and Android. The product was initially developed as an MVP to get the first results and confirm its feasibility in Philadelphia. Now, the service is very popular and successful and is expanding to cover more states. 

So, is the Game Worth the Candle?

The answer is yes. You won’t lose anyway because a mobile app is a good investment in the prosperity of your e-commerce business. In the times of great competition it is necessary to be one step ahead. So, take this chance to leverage your potential.

If you have additional questions on how to develop an e-commerce mobile app, MLSDev team is always ready to answer them. 

Drop us a line