Ultimate Guide: Build Your M-Commerce App

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Building m-commerce app can be challenging because there are many decisions to be made and a single mistake can cause missed deadlines or overpriced development. Furthermore, m-commerce applications are one of the most important parts in your mobile sales strategy. You need a great plan to make the right decisions and it’s essential to invest in the best solution to see high ROI (return of investment).

You have endless number of options to build your app and it can be difficult to select the right one for your business. Follow next steps to make a complete plan for your next m-commerce app. It will give you a basic idea about a solution you’re looking for and how to make your business successful. Let’s begin with selecting the best platforms.

Select your platforms

There many mobile platforms you can use and selecting the right ones is the first step to create your plan. The most popular are iOS and Android but there are many smaller platforms that can provide interesting niche audience for your specific needs.

You should start with defining your target audience and find what operation system they use. iOS and Android has the largest user base and you’ll probably find most of your target audience on one of them, or both.

Appstore vs Google Play m-commerce app

It’s not only about operation systems but also about their versions. Support for older version can be expensive and you should check how many users still use them. It’s better on iOS because most of the user update their devices regularly so supporting only last 2 version is completely fine.

Android is more complicated because not every manufacture provides updates for older devices so if you target users with low-end Android devices, you may need to support 3-4 year old version of operating system.

You also have to think about tables when you pick your operation system (or systems). M-commerce apps usually need transition between mobile and tablet devices because users start searching on mobile but finish their purchases on their tablets.

Choose the right technology

Did you select only one platform? or more of them? You can use many different technologies for mobile app development and number of platforms is one of the factors to make your choice. You have two main options – HTML5 (hybrid) or native apps. It’s always about meeting your budget and deadlines so compare both solutions and find the one that works for you.

native vs html5 m-commerce app

HTML5 provides excellent solution for fast & cheaper cross-platform development. You can develop a single mobile app for all platforms without any (or very little) extra costs. On the other hand, native mobile apps are developed for each platform separately using their own programming languages.

Your decision is simple if you focus on a single platform – native apps will always provide better user experience and professional feel. However, support for 2 or more mobile platforms will be more expensive with longer delivery time. If you have smaller budget but your priority is supporting all major platforms going with HTML5 makes sense.

Think about your goals to find a solution that meets your requirements and provides you the best opportunities to increase your ROI. If you have the budget and time for native development on 3 different platforms, you should definitely do that.

Screen specifications

It’s time to think about the actual functionality of your m-commerce app. What special features do you need? You can always find inspiration in your competitors’ apps. Download 20 successful apps with similar business model and you’ll always find interesting features you’d never thought about.

concept of m-commerce app

You can start with making a list of all screens that should be included in your app. It’s very important to know what you’re looking for when building your application. Make sure you list everything including checkout or login screens and don’t worry about the details for now. Typical m-commerce app will have around 20-30 screen so it isn’t going to be a short list.

Finished the list? Great! You’re ready to prepare a more details about the functionality on each screen. Take each screen separately and write down what it should do – what would you like to have on the home screen? Listing of popular items? or search functionality? Check your competitors and think about what’s important for your business and what can help your generating more sales.

Making your app specifications can take some time but it’s completely necessary for creating a great mobile development plan and calculating your costs. It’d be really hard to understand what you can get for your specific budget and how long will the development take without specificaitons. If you know what you’re looking for from the very beginning, you won’t have to do any dramatic changes to the functionality during the development process and it’ll save you lot’s of money.

App design & icon

Great design is one of the easiest things that can make your app stand out of the crowd. You should focus on creating great user experience with no learning curve. Users always love apps with great animation and straightforward control elements. It can be difficult to find unique ways to handle user interface and still keep all elements easy to use but that’s also the main reason to find experienced designer.

m-commerce app design

You should have an idea how your mobile app will look like. It doesn’t have to be anything detailed but it’s always easier to summarize what UI elements you prefer in mobile applications. Best way is looking around your competitors and write down what you like or don’t like about their design. This can give you a great list of ideas for the designer and you’ll end up with designs you and your users love.

App icon is one of the most important artwork you’ll ever need. It’s main branding element and one of the first things that should grab user’s attention when browsing app store search results. Your icon should be consistent with the rest of the design and present the main purpose of your application in a unique way. It’s also very important to make it easy to remember so users recognise it when scrolling their home screen.

m-commerce app icons

If you decided to support more platforms, you’ll need unique design for each of them. User interface in iOS is very different to Android and users like mobile applications that follow their system default styling. Many elements doesn’t look and work the same way so creating successful app on more platforms can be challenging if you don’t focus on creating quality designs.

Tracking user & analytics

You should always keep improving you mobile application and you need valid data to make right decisions. It’s even more important for m-commerce app because small changes in design or copy can boost or kill your profits. Your app downloads is a number that doesn’t say much about your users without knowing what users do with the app.

You should decide how much you want to track and select specific tools for your needs. You can start with simple integrations of Google Mobile App Analytics and monitor user behaviours in your app. You can find how many daily users you have an what screens they visit. Other interesting metrics to watch is how much time they spend in different parts of the app. This can give you basic idea about user behaviour and better understand they preferences.

m-commerce analytics(Image Source)

More complicated data can be track with tools such as Localytics or Flurry. You can track every single tap on the screen and find out the actual user flow in your mobile app. It’s very important to see where users make the orders, what buttons they usually tap and if there is any important functionally totality left behind.

It’s very easy to improve your user interface when you see what your users actually do. Leanplum provides easy way to implement A/B testing and allows you constantly improve user interface even without submitting new versions. Have you always thought how more sales you would make if your checkout was different (you should think about that!)?

You will never know if you don’t test it. Running a simple A/B testing campaign in your m-commerce app can give your instant sales increment with little costs. You should include advanced analytics in your mobile app budget to find the best solution for your business.

Think about after development costs

It’s also not only about the mobile app development itself. You can have an app in the App Store or Google Play but you need to spread the word and start generating your downloads. Make sure you leave some space for marketing in your budget because it’s very important for growing your user base at the beginning.

The simplest thing you should always do is a landing page for your mobile app. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new startup or existing business. Landing page is the place your targe all potential mobile users and which is highly optimized for explaining your mobile app benefits. You should include a mobile version of the page so your users can view it easily on a mobile device and install your application in a single tap.

m-commerce app keyword ranking

Most of the downloads are made via searching in app stores and that’s why you should focus on your app store optimization (ASO). There are millions of mobile apps and being in top search results for your niche market is very important for increasing your downloads with very little cost. You can achieve this by tracking & regularly improving your keywords and application title. You have also a great chance to improve your presence with creating custom screenshots and app demo video.

Other way to promote your app is via paid mobile ads but it sometimes require larger investments. There are many ad networks including iAd and AdMob and you can pick the that will better target your audience. You can see ad banners in many applications (mostly games) and they link directly to your download page. It can provide great conversion rate and you’ll be able to get many new downloads. The price depends on your ad campaign specifications and you can use their free tools to find out what it would cost you.

Ask for proposals

You know exactly what you’re looking for after finishing all previous steps. Isn’t that great to understand a solution that will make your m-commerce business successful? It’s time to get in touch with development companies, show them your app specifications and ask for proposals. It’s the only way to find real-life costs of creating your m-commerce applications

The great thing is that you can collect and compare all proposals easily because your full project makes it simple to understand what you’re looking for. It also allows potential development companies to include all requested features in the quoted price and create realistic delivery dates. Lack of project specifications is the main reasons for delayed delivery, over-prices solutions or even complete project failure. And that’s not what you want, is it?

m-commerce app development costs(Image Source)

However, the price itself isn’t the most interesting factor you’re looking for your. Remember you’re not buying a product, you’re buying a service. That means quality of all solutions can be very different so the most expensive one doesn’t mean highest quality services and the cheapest one doesn’t mean saved costs. It’s more complicated than that and finding the right partner is as important as creating first line of your specifications so make sure you don’t rush your decision.


Congratulation! You’ve done more than 90% of your competitors already. You know how to set your budget, finish app specifications and generate quotes from different development providers. This is the very important difference that will help you with finishing your mobile app on time and with expected results.

You can find out that it’ll be difficult to create exactly what you’re looking for and meet your budget. The great thing is that you don’t have to include everything in the very first version of your app and you can focus on the most important parts. The functionality can be added anytime in the future when you discover how much revenue you’re generating from m-commerce. Adjust your requirements to your current budget and schedule other functionality for upcoming updates.

Try to focus on finding an expert in your field because they understand your specific needs and their expertise will bring lots of value to your business. Solution that has few % higher sales will generate huge profits over the months/years and it’s worth investing your time, energy and money to quality m-commerce applications.

Do you still have any problems creating your plan? Get in touch in comments below!

About the Author

John Komarek is the founder of Pixelter. He helped over 63 e-commerce businesses boost their mobile sales by up to 183.5%. He uses advanced UX research, A/B testing, and AI-driven personalization to deliver the results. Learn more about how he can help you grow your sales.

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