With 90% of total mobile media time spent on mobile ecommerce apps, anyone’s ecommerce strategy should definitely include the development of a user-friendly and high-converting mobile app.
There is no doubt smartphones and computer tablets have significantly impacted how consumers purchase these days and ecommerce apps are definitely reshaping traditional online business.
As today’s generation of customers are becoming more comfortable doing commercial transactions online from banking and bills payment to ecommerce shopping for clothes and even groceries, a mobile ecommerce app is becoming more of a business necessity than an option.
In this article, we will discuss the different factors you need to have in your mobile ecommerce app checklist as you develop one for your business plus the list of tools you can use. We will also cover the different advantages and challenges of having a mobile app for your business and some of the best ecommerce apps out there to get motivation and inspiration from.
Mobile ecommerce app checklist
Building your mobile ecommerce app is not so different as building your ecommerce site for desktops. The building blocks are essentially the same, but following just a slightly different framework.
App development tools
These days, you do not need to be a web developer to build an app. Especially if your budget does not allow it, a DIY approach to developing your very own mobile ecommerce app is an option you can take.
Depending on your programming experience, there are mobile developer tools you can use that matches your competencies.
If you have zero experience in app development, you can use the following tools:
AppMakr allows you to create simple ecommerce apps that can be easily integrated with features relevant to your customers’ fast and easy shopping, such as product catalogs, a link to an eBay store, deals and customer order forms.
LiveCode is an English-like language for creating ecommerce apps. Download the code platform and start developing your mobile ecommerce app for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux and HTML5 all from the same code.
SaasMob is also a great tool as it allows you to build your own mobile ecommerce app with customized color schemes, widgets, product catalogues, coupons and publish product news.
MobiCart allows you to create an ecommerce app with limited features for free or you can go for the paid options and be very creative with the look, feel and function of your app. You can upload your official logo, product photos, prices, color themes, store tabs and other essential m-commerce features you want your app to have. MobiCart also works with a PayPal account.
ShoutEm is similar to MyAppBuilder in the way it allows you to build an app out of your current ecommerce site. Build your own mobile ecommerce app out of your existing site’s URLs, photo streams, YouTube videos and more.
If you have substantial programming experience, these are the app development tools that can work well for you:
For advanced mobile developer tools, there is the Apple Developer Program and the Android Developer’s Suite. It comes with a wealth of tools, debug tests and how-to guides. Corresponding fees apply for app distribution.
Memorable and converting mobile ecommerce apps are those that are truly engaging and user friendly. Check out Cocoa Controls for iOS and The Android Arsenal for Android apps for mobile UI components you can add to create the best mobile shopping experiences for your users.
Bonus: What mobile platforms (e.g. iOS, Android, Windows 10 Mobile, etc.) should your mobile app support? Should you focus on just one or all of them?
Have a clear selection process in place and let these four ways in choosing mobile platforms guide you on your decision.
It is not a complete mobile shopping experience if there is no way for your customers to pay you straight on your app.
A payment gateway is an interface to your payment system that provides a secure connection between your customer’s device and your payment system. It takes care of encrypting data and securely handling the connection to the system’s payment processor.
In a mobile app, a payment gateway can be an embeddable form similar to the screenshot below where there is a series of forms a customer needs to accomplish in order to pay securely.
Aside from an embeddable form, a mobile payment gateway can be a secure SDK that developers need to carefully integrate based on the platform (e.g. iOS and Android) they are using. Below is an example of the workflow of a PayPal SDK.
Below is a list of mobile payment processing frameworks that will enable you to accept payments straight on your mobile ecommerce app. Capture and store payment details and process transactions securely with these options:
- Apple Pay
- Braintree Payments
- Google Wallet
- Mint Payments
If you want to make it extra convenient for your customers to pay you using their credit cards, you can integrate a credit card photo scanner. Card.io is a widely used tool for that.
An analytics tool is essential to gauge your success, track and optimize your store on mobile. For every process flow you want your customers to do on your app, you need to know how they understand it and how they navigate through it. Any hurdles you see from your analytics tools will tell you what you need to fix or improve on.
Check out our list below for tools you can use to analyze your mobile ecommerce app:
- Google Analytics Mobile – This is a wise choice if you are already utilizing Google Analytics and Google Analytics 360 for your web store. Get actionable and valuable insights as you make your mobile shopping experience better and better for your customers. Google Analytics Mobile works with Firebase Analytics – the core of Google’s platform for mobile developers.
- Leanplum – Get real-time analytics, automated insights and rich reporting from Leanplum. View confidence intervals for specific metrics you want to focus on and see if your mobile marketing campaign is globally competitive or not.
- Mixpanel – This measures activities people are doing on your app and gives you actionable insights instead of just plain figures. Mixpanel also features data segmentation so you can focus on the insights that matter most to you.
Mobile A/B testing tools
Similar to your regular ecommerce site and mobile site, apps need to be tested regularly to ensure goals are met and user experience is always on point. Make sure to have your mobile A/B testing tools ready. Below are some platforms you can use:
App store optimization
Once you are done with the development and technical aspect of your mobile app, the next essential step is to market it properly so your target market can download it on their devices.
The quest for a veritable presence on search does not end with Google. The App Store and Google Play are like search engines specific to ecommerce apps. Getting your app discovered organically is hard unless your app happens to be on the Featured list or on the Top Ten list.
Tools like App Annie, Sensor Tower, App Codes and Keyword Tool for the App Store will guide you as you market your app better on the App Store and on Google Play. Know your keywords’ popularity and how it averages with your competitors. As you get more insights about how your app ranks on these stores, use it to improve your app title, descriptions, keywords and other marketing content.
Submitting your mobile app to the App Store and on Google Play is an equally essential process as app development. Make sure your marketing and configuration details are organized for submission. Use this cheat sheet for app store submission to prevent common submission mistakes like version numbers and Bundle IDs.
Bonus: Check out our article here for more tips on how you can increase your mobile app’s downloads.
Advantages of ecommerce apps
Now that mobile apps are transforming the way online business is done (and even outperforming mobile websites in some cases), what are the different benefits that can be derived by having one for your business?
Offers a more personalized shopping experience
Personalization is a critical factor when making mobile user experience more converting and memorable. With a mobile ecommerce app, you can tailor fit all your communications to your customer based on their location, usage behavior and interests.
It’s more challenging to create a personalized experience for your customers with a website or a mobile site. With an app, your user can set up their preferences from the very beginning, which will be your basis for the content you will serve on their device.
Your app can also track and observe user engagement, such as when certain products are regularly viewed or specific products are abandoned inside the cart. You can use this to offer custom updates, retargeting ads and recommendations to your users through emails and push notifications.
When your customer feels pampered with personalized content, there is a bigger chance their engagement will turn into a successful conversion.
Easier way to send less-intrusive notifications
There is no doubt that email marketing is an effective form of communication, but since businesses have extensively used it, it has lost some of its effectiveness somehow.
The beauty of a having an ecommerce mobile app is you’re not just stuck with email to communicate with your customers and you can do so with notifications. There are two kinds of notifications you can use – in-app and push notifications.
In-app notifications are messages users only get to read once they open the app on their device.
On the other hand, push notifications are messages users receive regardless of any activity they are doing on their mobile device. It has been known that push notifications have a delivered click-through rate of 40%.
They may be great messaging alternatives, but make sure you are sending out these notifications judiciously. Or else, you run the risk of making your app intrusive, leading to your user removing your app from their device.
Works faster than mobile websites
Especially when it is a well-designed app, it can perform faster than a mobile website. Usually, mobile apps store their data locally on mobile devices, which is different from mobile websites that use web servers.
Additionally, since users can set their preferences on the app from the start, the app can use it to make proactive actions on your user’s behalf, helping them save even more time and energy.
Streamlines users’ actions and processes
Especially when you include secure payment options and program your app to remember these options during the development of your app, you can help streamline the buying process for your users.
When things are more streamlined, the easier it is for your users to convert and purchase joyfully using your app. It can also influence their loyalty as your shoppers.
Creates better brand experience
Since the development of a mobile app is distinct from a regular site or a mobile site, brands have more liberty in offering a totally new branding experience to its target users. You can experiment with how your app’s appearance will look like and even give your users the chance to customize it too according to their liking.
When your users like the experience they get from your app, they are also more likely to spend more time on it.
Challenges along the way
There is the challenge of security being downplayed as businesses rush to have their mobile apps developed. The need for speed pushes other essential aspects of app development, including user security. In a survey among IT managers, 65% of them admitted putting security of mobile apps at risk due to the pressure of developing apps quickly.
Another challenge is getting the word out about your mobile app. The work does not end after app development. Good marketing is also part of having a successful mobile app for your business. Otherwise, no one will download it and use it.
Make sure you have an outreach plan in place. Let your target users know that your mobile ecommerce app exists, inform them where they can download it and why they should have it on their devices. Consider setting up ads on Instagram with ‘Mobile App Installs’ as an objective to encourage downloads.
You can also run ads on Facebook with the similar objective.
Another big challenge is device compatibility. Ensure your app is regularly updated with any changes in Apple’s or Google’s operating systems. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your app run inefficiently and cause dissatisfaction to your users. Having a team of developers onboard should help you keep your app updated and well-maintained from bugs.
Some of the best ecommerce apps
Ecommerce giants are definitely leading the way when it comes to mobile ecommerce apps. Check out some of the best ecommerce apps below:
Amazon allows users to connect and interact with its wide selection of products straight on their devices. Users can take advantage of its voice recognition feature to search, reorder and track their items.
The Amazon app is available in iOS and Android.
Of course, there’s also the Apple Store on the app store, making it easier for people to shop for Apple products and accessories and get the most out of their visits to the Apple Store. Users can start their order on one device and finish it on another.
Probably a downside to this app is it always requires the latest iOS version. Devices not updated won’t be able to use the app smoothly as it is designed to be.
Spring is an ecommerce brand similar to Amazon in the way it brings 1000+ brands to customers straight on their app. What makes Spring one of the best ecommerce apps out there is it offers an Instagram-inspired product feed with a curated community of brands. Users can shop items according to collections created by its style influencers and editors.
However, Spring does not have the traditional shopping cart system. Once users have provided their payment and shipping details, they just need to swipe beneath an item to buy the product and the seller will be corresponding with them for further details.
There’s also Asia’s leading online fashion destination, Zalora that offers probably one of the smoothest shopping experiences on their app. Product browsing, selection, checkout and order modifications are all easy to perform on the app. Zalora even offers exclusive sales, discounts and referral promos for its mobile users, encouraging loyalty and more app downloads.
The Zalora app is available on both iOS and Android.
Asia’s number 1 online shopping mall, Lazada, is also on our list of the best ecommerce apps. Lazada carries thousands of SKUs and is the same app that customers in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines use.
The Lazada app is available on iOS and Android.
When building your very own mobile app for your business, make sure to reference our checklist of tools you will need. From the actual app development to split testing, make these tools available so you are sure you are delivering a mobile app experience that’s converting and memorable to your customers.
Balance out the perceived challenges with the advantages you can get with an mobile app created specifically around your brand and your business goals. Take inspiration too from some of the biggest ecommerce brands that now have a mobile app presence.
Once you have your own corner in your customer’s mobile devices, you might be tapping the kind of growth that will change your business forever.