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

30 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!

Is it Worth to Create a Shopping App in 2021?

The number of eCommerce businesses grows by the day. Such growth is caused by the increasing demand in online shopping. 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 showing interest in knowing how to make online selling app for their business.

Out of all eCommerce sales, mobile commerce is steadily growing pace. By 2021, mobile eCommerce sales are expected to account for 54% of total eCommerce sales. By the end of 2020, US mobile retail revenue is expected to reach $339.03 billion. Today, having a shopping online app is a great opportunity for businesses to establish their eCommerce presence and to enter the future fully equipped.

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 on a monthly basis.

The Benefits of eCommerce App Development for a Business

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 a lot of 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 be able to attract more customers and retain them over a long time. You can turn an app into your competitive advantage that users will love. We’ll talk later about how to make 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 – mobile applications can be used as a powerful tool for promoting an eCommerce business. Push notifications are one of 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 a loyal audience.

The best result of successful eCommerce app development is an application that will help you not only sell more but to build a meaningful connection with your customers. Just remember that acquiring new customers can cost five times more than retaining existing ones.

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 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!

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 in different ways with 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 usual shipping address, proffered location, contact data, etc. User profile can also contain different sections like a wish list, history of purchases, viewed products, and so on.
  • Product catalog – it’s impossible to build a shopping app without this feature. Usually, customers are divided into big groups, one of them being those looking into the product catalog. Thus, you need to create a robust product catalog with different product categories with the availability of different filters, e.g. by manufacturer, color, size, brand, etc.
  • 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, and so on. 
  • Shopping cart – this 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 color of product, 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 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 automatically extract information from the user profile. 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 address 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 – as was mentioned, push notifications are one of the most powerful tools that 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.
  • Customer feedback & reviews – allow customers to share their thoughts about the experience of using your application and review the products they buy via your applications. While every merchant wants to get only positive reviews, negative ones provide you with instant insight into the problems that might plug your applications. What’s more, social proof is also important for sales growth, as customers tend to buy products that have at least a few customer reviews.

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 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 to 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 of 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 that they place orders and buy products they previously liked.
  • Social integration – integration with social media should not be limited to the social sign up / sign in. You can allow users to interact with your app in a different way and share in their social profiles the products they like or even their wish lists.
  • 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 will be able to 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 an ability to easily create user profiles.
  • 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 on dashboards 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 of everything happening in your application. Real-time updates on the number of purchases, transactions, revenue, and so on will help to plan for further growth and identify problems as soon as they occur.
  • Content management – this is the most important feature for the admin panel, as it allows to manage products, update information, add descriptions, and much more.
  • Customer chatbot – online customer support can be integrated into a few ways, one of them being 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 to create 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.


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  
The back-end of the app
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
Apple Push Notifications Service (APN)
Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM)

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.

As you analyze the market, you need to understand customer expectations, their pains, and how you can solve them with your shopping application.

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 how you can 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 in regards to 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 quickly shop in your app and an interface that doesn’t distract from products.

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 to 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 that might interfere 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. Based on the collected analytics data after your app hits the market, you can plan for future app improvements and ongoing development. Add new features, identify problems, and offer solutions, improve the shopping experience, and continue working on your application.

eCommerce App Development Cost

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

On average, a simple app version for one platform (iOS or Android) will cost you $50,000+. If you want to create a shopping app for both iOS and Android, you will need to pay $100,000.

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.

App development cost calculation

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)

eCommerce App Development: Final Notes

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

If you decide to create an app to sell products online, the Addevice team will be happy to assist you with the task. We know how to make online selling app from our own experience.

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.

Contact us

FAQ on eCommerce application development

Why should I make a shopping app in 2020?

According to statistics, mobile eCommerce sales are expected to account for 54% of total ecommerce sales by 2021. Nasdaq predicts that by 2040 eCommerce will facilitate about 95% of all purchases. Thus, having an online and mobile presence is mandatory for all retail businesses that want to be successful in the future.

How do I create an online selling app?

You can develop a shopping app by following the below 10 steps:

  • market analysis
  • USP creation
  • app development vendor search
  • project specifications
  • eCommerce app design
  • development
  • testing & QA
  • project launch
  • promotion
  • ongoing development
How much does eCommerce app development cost?

A simple app version for iOS or Android will cost you $50,000. You will need to pay the same amount if you decide to create an app for each platform. The development of two apps with complex features will cost you $250,000+

Where to outsource eCommerce app development?

There are a lot of countries to which you can outsource app development. Just remember that the location you choose will influence the final eCommerce app development cost. For example, the hourly development rate in the USA is $100-150 on average, which the price of app development in Europe is $50-100 per hour.

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