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How to make online selling app: tech & business details (2021)

35 min read
How to Make Online Selling App: Tech & Business Details, Technologies, & Processes [2020]

Wondering how to make an online selling app?

eCommerce app development is gaining popularity lately. Each year, more and more customers rely on online channels for purchases. In 2019, retail eCommerce sales have reached $343,150 billion in the USA. The industry is predicted to grow at a rapid pace, reaching $576,462 in revenue by 2024.

chart created with amCharts | amCharts

This article will help you decide how to make an online selling app and turn it into a profitable business. As you read the article, you will learn:

  • market indicators to create a shopping app in 2021
  • what you can get from an online shopping app
  • what unites the best online shopping apps
  • basic and flagship features for eCommerce app development
  • how to make online selling app from technical point + key APIs & integrations
  • how we approach eCommerce mobile app development
  • step by step process to create an app to sell products

Let’s jump right to the fun part!

Why is creating shopping apps a good idea?

It has been evident for several years that everything goes to mobile. People feel more comfortable and confident interacting with businesses online. And this applies to retailers more than anything else. To feel the pace of eCommerce development, just look through the numbers and statistics. In 2019, customers spent $601,75 billion with online U.S. merchants.

  • eCommerce app development is a lucrative investment when looking far into the future. Nasdaq predicts that by 2040 eCommerce will facilitate about 95% of all purchases. Today, companies need to prepare to meet the ever-growing demand for online shopping services. That’s why many retail businesses are interested in creating online selling apps for their business
  • Faster than eCommerce, mobile commerce is steadily growing. By the end of 2020, US mobile retail revenue reached $339.03 billion. In 2021, mobile eCommerce sales already account for 54% of total eCommerce sales. Today, an online shopping app is a powerful tool for businesses to establish their eCommerce presence and fully enter the future.
  • The predicted number of global digital buyers will reach 2,14 billion by the end of this year. It means you have a market of over 2 billion potential customers for interaction.

If you are still not sure how eCommerce app development can benefit your business, check the graph below demonstrating the popularity of top mobile shopping apps.

chart created with amCharts | amCharts

The image above demonstrates that in September of 2019, Amazon online shopping app was the most popular mobile shopping app in the United States, with 160.6 million mobile users. The second app Walmart had 86.05 million monthly users. The last in the top three is eBay, with 62.25 million users accessing it monthly.

What are the benefits of an eCommerce mobile app?

Advantages of Online Shopping Business App

As a result of attracting a huge number of customers, mobile apps for online stores bring along a lot of other benefits. Thus, knowing how to make online selling app is the requirement of today, as the number of mCommerce customers continues to grow.

Let’s see which benefits you can get by building your own online retailer app:

  • Increase in sales and customer audience – Thanks to the ease of use and ability of shopping-on-the-go, mobile applications attract many customers. Merchants can use built-in marketing tools to promote their products, convert, and retain customers.
  • Customer loyalty – You can hardly find a customer without a mobile phone today. After you create a shopping app, you will attract more customers and retain them over a long time. You can turn an app into a competitive advantage that users will love. We’ll talk later about making an online selling app that will become your secret weapon in removing competitors out of the way.
  • More sales – Some customers prefer to shop online, and half of them choose mobile devices for this task. If you provide them with an easy-to-use mobile application, it automatically increases the chances of making more sales.
  • Promotion tools – Push notifications are among the best ways to remind customers about your store, tell them about special offers, discounts, arrivals of new products, etc. Shopping applications allow brands to build a strong relationship with customers and turn them into loyal audiences.
  • Increased brand recognition – It is the era of digital technologies, and the first thing customers do is look for a website or an app. Keeping the pace of technologies and offering a better user experience will eventually lead to purchases.
  • Improved marketing communication – Smartphones and mobile apps are the top marketing tools for customer reach out. Being active for almost all ay, customers can get offers any time and interact with the brand. With mobile app marketing campaigns are better targeted and more productive.
  • Better customer experience – Already proved that customers feel more comfortable shopping through smartphones, personalized offers, easy payment, delivery tracking, and much more.
  • Increased retention rates – The unique and functional application keeps customers engaged and interested in your product. The more they are using the app, the higher the chances of getting revenue. And even if the first interaction does not end up with a purchase, the app will lead to conversion growth.

The best result of successful eCommerce app development is an application that will help you sell more and build a meaningful connection with your customers. Just remember that acquiring new customers can cost five times more than retaining existing ones.

What are the benefits of an eCommerce mobile app?

If you want to know how to make an online selling app that will help you get more sales, take a look at the following deliverable that you need to get from eCommerce app development.

The future success of your shopping application depends on a number of factors. Let’s investigate each of them so that you would create a shopping app that will become a powerful addition to your business tools:

  • Applications speed – today, speed wins. A Compuware report says that users expert their application to load in about two seconds. When it takes longer, you lose your chances to convert customers, especially if an app’s load speed nears 10 seconds.
  • Strict business goals – before you create a shopping app, you need to have a strict final goal of eCommerce app development. Usually, the desire to generate more sales is the main reason why companies create an app to sell products. Thus, you need to set goals right and aim to convert more customers instead of growing your user base.
  • Comprehensive strategy – even the best app development company cannot ensure the success of your mobile application. You need to be ready to work hard on its promotion and ongoing improvements. Therefore, be ready to create a comprehensive development and promotion strategy that will help you keep your app running.
  • Unique value – if you want to know how to make an online selling app that users will love, you need to bring a unique value proposition. Without knowing your audience, you won’t be able to provide them with a meaningful shopping experience.
  • User-friendliness – first of all, users pay close attention to the experience your application provides them with. Thus, creating an attractive and simple design is one of the main requirements. We’ll talk more about e-commerce app design essentials later in the article.

How to Make a Shopping App: Features

Now that you know how to create a shopping app and which deliverables ensure its success, it’s time to move to another important consideration – app features.

How do I create an online selling app?

Usually, and eCommerce shopping app consists of two main parts:

  • Customer panel
  • Admin panel

Each of the panels has its own features designed to provide a smooth user experience.

Let’s find out how to make a shopping app and which features to include!

How To Make a Successful Online Shop Application?

If you want to know how to make an online selling app that will help you get more sales, take a look at the following deliverable that you need to get from eCommerce app development.

The future success of your shopping application depends on several factors. Let’s investigate each of them so that you would create a shopping app that will become a powerful addition to your business tools:

  • Applications speed – today, speed wins. A Compuware report says that users expert their application to load in about two seconds. When it takes longer, you lose your chances of converting leads into potential customers, especially if an app’s load speed exceeds 10 seconds.
  • Strict business goals – before you create a shopping app, you need to have a final goal of eCommerce app development. Usually, the desire to generate more sales is the main reason why companies create an app to sell products. Thus, you need to set goals right and aim to convert more customers instead of growing your user base.
  • Comprehensive strategy – even the best app development company cannot ensure the success of your mobile application. You need to be ready to work hard on its promotion and ongoing improvements. Therefore, be prepared to create a comprehensive development and promotion strategy that will help you keep your app running.
  • Unique value – if you want to make an online selling app that users will love, you need to bring a unique value proposition. Without knowing your audience, you won’t be able to provide them with a meaningful shopping experience.
  • User-friendliness – first of all, users pay close attention to the experience your application provides them with. Thus, creating an attractive and simple design is one of the main requirements. We’ll talk more about e-commerce app design essentials later in the article.

Aside from scoped business strategy, your plan should be empowered with targeted action plans to ensure your app’s success. Here is some killer tips to make your mCommerce work.

  • Create an engaging design. The first thing your customer sees is the design of the app. It should be simple but not elementary.
  • Provide excellent customer support. To start communication with your target audience and keep them engaged, you should be available for supper 24/7 or at least as much as possible.
  • Integrate popular payment options. The more opportunities to offer, the higher is the chances for purchases.
  • Enhance brand recognition on social channels. Popular social platforms are excellent channels to promote the brand and build a community.
  • Add SEO-driven blog. A valuable and engaging blog is another strategy to generate traffic. Keep it updated with interesting content, and your audience will have another reason to check your app.

How To Make a Shopping App: Features

Now that you know how to create a shopping app and which deliverables ensure its success, it’s time to move to another important consideration – app features.

An eCommerce shopping app consists of two main parts:

  • Customer panel
  • Admin panel

Each of the panels has its own features designed to provide a smooth user experience.

Let’s find out how to make a shopping app and which features to include!

Basic Features of an Ecommerce app: Customer Panel 

Before you start the eCommerce app development process, learn what customers expert from shopping apps today.

Take a look at the graph below to see how Statista estimates user preferences.

chart created with amCharts | amCharts
  • User signup/login – this feature can be implemented through email, phone, or social media user verification. The only requirement is not to demand upfront registrations. Let your potential customers browse an app without creating a user account and offer them this ability at the best moment.
  • User profile – after users create an account, they should have the ability to update their personal information. You can allow them to add different personal details, like the usual shipping address, proffered location, contact data, etc. User profiles can also contain different sections like a wish list, history of purchases, viewed products, etc.
  • Product catalog – The shopping app needs to catalog full products with filters and categories to search. 
  • Product search – the other group of customers prefer to look for something directly by typing the product name is a search bar. You need to serve all customers, thus creating a robust product search feature is the main requirement. Users should be able to get more relevant search results by applying different filters, including price filters, brand, etc. 
  • Shopping cart – it is one of the basic features that you should not forget about when you develop a shopping app. Customers should be provided with the ability to add products to their shopping carts. A nice to have feature is the ability to change products inside their shopping carts. You can provide a feature allowing you to add more items, change the product’s color, size, and so on.
  • Online payment – while it’s possible to build a shopping cart without in-app payment, online payments are mandatory for any mobile shopping application. If you want to know how to make an online selling app with a great user experience, add this feature. Provide users with a choice of payment gateways, including but not limited to payment cards, PayPal, Stripe, Braintree, and other options that are popular in your region.
  • Smooth checkout – on mobile, users abandon almost 87% of carts. It’s possible to reduce the rate by implementing a fast and easy checkout process. As typing in all the necessary information might be tedious work on mobile, consider providing the ability of a one-click purchase, to place orders as a guest, and to extract data from the user profile automatically. One-page checkout is the best solution. Otherwise, you need to implement a progress bar to keep users on track with their progress.
  • Shipping systems – today, the vast majority of online shopping apps provide users with the ability to choose the proffered shipping option. Thus, you need to integrate your app with third-party shipping companies so that users could provide their delivery addresses without leaving your application.
  • Online chat – this feature can be a part of extensive customer support service. With its help, users should be able to ask questions, get a consultation, or help with their problems.
  • Push notifications – This feature is among the most powerful tools you can add to your app during eCommerce app development. This feature can be used for self-promotion. You can notify users about product newcomers, upcoming holiday seasons, special offers and even remind them about abandoned carts.

Advanced Features of Online Shopping App: Customer Panel

Aside from basic features, you can add a few unique ones to your application. These features will allow your solution to stay out among competitors and provide shoppers with a superior user experience.

Advanced Features of an Online Store App

Let’s see how to make an online selling app that will delight customers with unique functionality.

  • AR/VR – this feature will make your app truly unique on the market, as not many companies invest in its development. It would be a nice addition to basic features, expanding the functionality of your app. Amazon has nailed its feature with Amazon AR View. It allows checking how furniture will look at your house. AR/VR can also be used to try on some new clothes without visiting a physical store.
  • iBeacon – consider adding this functionality if you have an extensive chain of offline stores. This technology allows providing a unified shopping experience across online and mobile. For example, if you have a huge mall, you can help customers find the products they need or remember which store they visited and provide relevant product recommendations in your online mall app.
  • Wishlist – in most cases, customers don’t make a purchasing decision with the first visit to a mobile shopping application. Wishlists provide them with an opportunity to save some of the products they like for late. The display of wish lists in user profiles increases the possibility of placing orders and buying products they previously liked.
  • Social integration – integration with social media should not be limited to the social sign-up for placing orders and buying / sign-in. You can allow users to interact with your app differently and share the products they like or even their wish lists in their social profiles.
  • Recommendations system – when users browse your application in search of products, they leave behind a lot of useful information about their interests, preferences, etc. You need to create a robust system that will provide them with relevant product recommendations. It’s possible to go further and implement this feature based on Artificial Intelligence that will allow making suggestions even more precise.
  • Instructions and useful materials – selling complex and specific products require a section with instructions and useful materials. Your app can have such a section where users can view user manuals, usage recommendations, etc.
  • Nearest store – if you decide to create a shopping app for your offline retail chain, this will be a nice-to-have feature that will direct customers to your offline locations. Such a feature would require the use of geolocation functionality.
  • Scanning codes – this is another feature useful for offline retail chains. Instead of searching for the necessary information on a product’s package or asking sellers, shoppers can easily scan a barcode or QR code and get all the information they need right on their smartphones.

How to Make a Shopping App: Features for Admin Panel

Every online shopping app has an admin panel that allows you and your employees to add content, products, moderate users, reviews, and much more. Below you can find an overview of key features that you use for your in-app admin panel.

Admin Features of Shopping Applications
  • Sign up / sign in – your admins should have the ability to create user profiles easily.
  • Admin roles – it’s important to add the functionality that allows you to assign different roles to your admins from the account of a superuser.
  • Dashboards – this feature combined with the previous one allows to show information only relevant to a particular admin with the set access. Thus, they won’t see unnecessary information that will distract them from their work.
  • Analytics – this feature will help admins be on track with everything happening in your application. Real-time updates on the number of purchases, transactions, revenue, and so on will help plan for further growth and identify problems as soon as they occur.
  • Content management is the most important feature for the admin panel, as it allows us to manage products, update information, add descriptions, and much more.
  • Customer chatbot – online customer support can be integrated through a chatbot. Its development and implementation will allow your admins to save time, as they won’t need to answer basic questions.

Technology Stack to Create a Shopping App

This part explains how to make an online selling app from a technical point of view. The table below explains the process of creating an app and its front-end for iOS and Android. Also, it provides an overview of the technologies needed to create the web version of the admin panel.

iOS
Android
Web
Programming language:
– Front-end: Swift, Objective C
– Back-end: Ruby, Python, Java, PHP
Programming language: Kotlin, Java Markup languages: HTML5, CSS3
Development OS: Mac OS X Development OS: Mac OS, Ubuntu Programming languages: JavaScript, TypeScript
IDE: Xcode, AppCode IDE: Android Studio JavaScript Frameworks: Angular, React, Vue, etc.
Platform SDK: iOS SDK, Cocoa Touch Platform SDK: Android SDK  
Back-end frameworks Ruby on Rails, Django, etc
Database servers MySQL, PostgreSQL, MangoDB
Web Servers nginx, Apache
Cloud server platforms Amazon Web Services (EC2, AWS, S3, etc.)

eCommerce app development can also involve integration with various APIs (Application Programming Interface). APIs allow for work between back-end and front-end and help to quickly integrate third-party services.

Category Integration
Payment gateways Stripe, PayPal, Braintree, Google Pay, Apple Pay
Analytics tools Google Analytics, Flurry, Firebase, Mixpanel
Maps & geolocation Google Apps, Apple Apps, Google Directions, Google Places
Social media Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Push notifications Twilio
Nexmo
Plivo
Sinch
Apple Push Notifications Service (APN)
Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM)

The 10 Best Ecommerce APIS 

Consider including one of those APIs into your shopping app for better productivity

  1. Amazon API
  2. Shopify API
  3. eBay API
  4. Bigcommerce API
  5. Kite API
  6. BestBuy API
  7. Woocommerce API
  8. Magento API
  9. Gumroad API
  10. API2CART API

How to Make Online Selling App: 10-Step Guide

How do I create a selling app?

The process to create a shopping app can be summarized in 10 major steps:

  • market analysis
  • USP creation
  • app development vendor search
  • project specifications
  • eCommerce app design
  • development
  • testing & QA
  • project launch
  • promotion
  • ongoing development

Let’s look at each step in more detail to learn how to make an online selling app step by step.

How to Make Online Selling App in 10 Steps

1. Market analysis

Without a comprehensive market analysis, you won’t be able to build a shopping app without a competitive edge. Thus, it’s important to study the market, identify your future competitors, analyze their unique selling proposition, and create a short overview of possible features.

2. USP

After you analyze the market, it’s time to create your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Come up with a few ideas for your future applications, discover new ways to improve customer experience and which unique features your application will have.

3. Find the right app development company

At this stage, you need to find an app development vendor that will know how to make an online selling app. As you are searching for your future technology partner, take into consideration the following factors:

  • Number of years on the market
  • Portfolio and experience in relevant projects
  • Customer reviews (Clutch, Manifest, ITFirms, etc.)
  • Technology stack
  • Level of English and communication
  • Quality and price ratio

Collect the data, analyze it, conduct a few screening interviews, and choose the best vendor. Please remember that the search can take up a few months. However, when you make the right choice, it will pay off in the future with smooth app development and launch.

4. Finalize project specifications

Together with a development vendor, create specifications of your project. Decide on the number of features, unique functionality, technology stack, and software architecture of your application. At the end of the preparation stage, your vendor should provide you with project estimation and timeline regarding the selected features set.

5. Create UX/UI design

The design of your application should be about ease of use, user-friendliness, and simplicity. These are e-commerce app design essentials that will allow you to create an application that users will love to use.

At this stage, the development vendor will work on UX and UI design and branding elements like unique app logo, color theme, fonts, etc.

In the end, you should have an attractive design that allows users to shop in your app with an interface that doesn’t distract from products quickly.

6. App development

eCommerce app development is the key process during which developers will work on frontend and backend parts of your application. You can either create two apps for iOS and Android or start the development with a single application for one of these platforms.

It’s possible to include only key features in the first version of your app. This way, you will test your idea without huge investments and risks to your budget.

7. Testing and QA

After an application is ready, quality assurance engineers will test it thoroughly to track any bugs interfering with user experience. After all the bugs are identified, they will be sent to developers for fixes. Thus, your development team will ensure that nothing will interfere with the use of the app.

8. App release

This is the final app of the development process. At this stage, developers will submit your application to the App Store and Google Play. The app should undergo a few checks by the app marketplaces to appear there.

9. Online shopping app promotion

After a successful release on the market, it’s time to promote your application to attract new users. You can use a comprehensive approach and utilize a few marketing channels, combining SMM, paid advertising, influence marketing, and other strategies.

The best option is to start working on the app’s promotion even before its launch. If you have an offline or online presence, you can promote your future app among existing customers. Encourage them to install it by offering discounts, presents, and other incentives.

10. Plan for further development and improvements

Do you know what the most popular shopping apps have in common?

Businesses standing behind such apps continue working on their improvements even after their launch. After your app hits the market, you can plan for future app improvements and ongoing development based on the collected analytics data. Add new features, identify problems, offer solutions, improve the shopping experience, and continue working on your application.

How much does it cost to develop a shopping app?

eCommerce app development cost may vary depending on factors like the number of features and supported platform, the complexity of backend, number of integrations, and so on.

As per industry experts, an online selling app development may cost around $10,000 – $30,000 (simple to complex app) for single and multiple platforms. Like any other app development, building a selling app is a process that takes time and resources.

In cases of complex app development with highly customized design and support of two platforms, the cost can reach $250,000 and even go beyond.

The costs for development do not include the price for testing and deployment. As an important part of project implementation, testing may take up to 90 hours. Testing and deployment costs may be from $1000 to $20000.

If you want to learn more about the processes of app development cost estimation, take a look at the extensive guide prepared by our team and overview the factors that influence the final price:

How Much Does It Cost to Build an App? (2021 Cost Calculation)

Concluding Ideas For eCommerce App Development

Now you know how to make an online selling app from both business and technical perspectives.

With expertise covering the development of online shopping apps, Addevice agency can become your reliable partner in developing a user-friendly and competitive product.

Addevice's Exprience in eCommerce App Development

Fitle is a smart clothing shopping app offering a revolutionized shopping experience. The application relies on 3D image processing and Augmented Reality that allows users to try on clothes in a virtual 3D fitting room. The implementation of Artificial Intelligence provides users with relevant clothing recommendations based on users’ views and purchase history.

Do you want to create a unique app like Fitle?

Get in touch with our team for a free initial project discussion. 

FAQ on eCommerce application development

Why should I make a shopping app in 2021?

The predicted number of global digital buyers will reach 2,14 billion by the end of this year. It means you have a market of over 2 billion potential customers for interaction.

How do I create an online selling app?

An eCommerce shopping app consists of two main parts:

  • Customer panel
  • Admin panel

Each of the panels has its own features designed to provide a smooth user experience.

How much does eCommerce app development cost?

As per industry experts, an online selling app development may cost around $10,000 – $30,000 (simple to complex app) for single and multiple platforms. Like any other app development, building a selling app is a process that takes time and resources.

Where to outsource eCommerce app development?

Outsourcing an app development company is the modern approach to project execution. Having a global talent pool, it is much easier to find an agency that fully covers the technical skills and knowledge for the project.

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