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How to develop a shopping app

Today, the question of shopping app development is pressing, especially for entrepreneurs, whose business is based on selling all kinds of goods and services.

Over the past few years, the popularity of online purchases has risen to the unprecedented level. World statistics show that about 1.8 billion people purchase goods via the internet, and every year this number increases by 8%.

How to develop a Shopping App? - Digital Around the world in 2018


In the past five years, the average cost of purchases made from mobile devices has almost doubled, and today it reaches $575.

How to develop a Shopping App? - Worldwide mobile commerce spending per buyer from 2012 to 2018


List of the most popular eCommerce projects in the world.

  1. Amazon. The place where you can buy anything you want from anywhere in the world.

  2. eBay. It is not just a mobile store. It is also an auction in which everyone can take part.

  3. Groupon. Through this app, users can get good deals and special offers from dozens of establishments (shops, restaurants, etc.) in more than 500 cities situated in 45 countries.

  4. H&M. This application allows users to buy branded clothes and accessories. Excellent design and user-friendliness of this app are worth noting.

There are enough arguments in favor of the eCommerce benefits. However, before you start developing your custom application, you would like to find out the answers to the following questions:

  • Should I build a shopping app or mobile-friendly online store will be enough?

  • How to make a shopping app?

  • What to begin with?

  • How long will it take?

  • What stages does the process of the app creation include?

And, of course:

  • What is the cost to build a mobile shopping app?

Let’s try to answer these questions together.

Why do you need to develop a shopping app?

First, to choose in favor of developing a mobile application for an eCommerce project, you, as a business owner, need to answer  the following questions:

1.    What are you going to sell?

2.    What benefits does it bring to consumers?

3.    What is the target audience of your product or service?

4.    What is the difference between your services and the services of your direct competitors?

Answering these questions, you will be able to assess your chances to succeed in eCommerce and avoid the failure after your app has been launched on the market.


The graph below shows that shopping is the most popular category of applications.

How to develop a Shopping App? - Year-on-year growth in time spent per mobile app category in 2017


As you can see, in 2017, users have spent 54% more time using shopping apps.

Second, statistics show that mobile apps have a higher percentage of customers return and the lowest shopping cart abandonment rate.

How to develop a Shopping App? - conversions and cart abandonment statistics.

Why the mobile application, and not the mobile-friendly online store?

In the modern world, and in conditions of high competition, it is essential to take into account the interests of the maximum number of users and potential customers.

Advantages of the mobile app:

1.    Easy and fast access. Of course, mobile devices are always at hand, and the user can take it anytime and browse needed websites. However, it is much more convenient to have the application installed on the smartphone. Thus, each potential customer will be in one click from online shopping through your app.

2.    Thanks to "push" notifications, the application will regularly inform the user about promotions, discounts, etc.

3.    Quick order and payment. The client will only have to choose a convenient payment method and enter the payment data. Subsequently, the payment will be automated.

4.    The speed of work. A proper application always works faster than a mobile version of an online store. Product’s descriptions are presented in brief, and this saves your consumer’s time for searching and studying tons of information.

If you already have an online store with a growing audience, high traffic, and frequent customers return then you should think about the ways to make own shopping app.

Native or cross-platform application?

Are you going to develop a shopping application for Android, or somebody has told you to create a mobile app for online shopping on iOS? The only right decision is to make the app the way that it will work on both, iOS and Android, devices.

Here comes the next question: create two native applications (one for IOS, and one for Android), or choose the cross-platform development? Here are the main features of each option.

Betake the native development if:

  • Your application requires free access to all the resources and services of the device;

  • You want to get the most responsive application;

  • The application must be able to work offline;

  • It should use the device’s hardware most effectively.


A cross-platform development should be resorted to if:

  • You are ready to accept the low responsiveness of the application;

  • The app does not involve complex animation and does not deal with calculations;

  • It needs constant access to the internet for content downloading;

  • You want to quickly launch the app to the market to test your ideas;

  • You have an online store, and you want to make the app for a minimum price.

Decide on the functions of the application

Any development project for startup begins with a clear technical task. All further steps depend on it.

First of all, you need to determine the list of functions that are essential for your future application. Here is the list of the primary and additional functions that can be included in the development of each eCommerce project.

Main functions:

  • The catalog is an essential part of any eCommerce application. A place where every buyer can find the necessary goods and see all the information about the product.

  • Purchase / Integration of payment systems. For your customers to safely make purchases via your application, you need to take care of the integration of a reliable payment system that guarantees the security of all buyer’s payment data.

  • Delivery. Fast and quality delivery of the purchase is significant for each customer who makes online purchases. Therefore, this feature must be included in the list of services that you provide.

  • Personal account for users. To hit every user’s needs, besides the standard registration form, let them have several other options (for example, log in with Google, Facebook or other popular social networks). Also, it is important to make it possible for users to view the catalog without registration.

  • Search in the application. A large selection of goods in the app requires a convenient and user-friendly search engine with the ability to sort products by name, price, brand, size, etc. The better the search engine is optimized to the needs of users, the less time it will take the customer to find the desired product.

  • Wishlist is an advantageous feature for any shopping app. Allow users to create lists of desired products and return to the app later to make a purchase.

  • Comparison of several products. Unfortunately, by far not all mobile shopping applications include the function of products comparison. For those who’ve got used to making deliberate purchases, this function can play a decisive role in favor of your service.

  • Notifications. With the help of notifications through different channels of communication with customers, you can notify them about the sales and exclusive propositions available in your online store, and thereby encourage them to make new purchases.

Additional functions:

  • Technical support. Customers should always know that in case of any difficulties or problems with the application, they have someone to turn to for help.

  • Order status tracking. With this function, customers can learn the information about the status of the order and track its location at any time.

  • Social network integration will enable users to quickly create an account in the application and share information about your events and news with all their contacts.

  • Bonuses and discounts always provoke a higher demand for the product, and regular cuts will guarantee you more and more regular customers.

  • Referral system will attract more customers. With this system, any user can receive a small reward for inviting new users to the application. The reward can be - additional discounts, coupons or a monetary commission for making future purchases.

UI/UX design

Individual design of the application is a powerful tool for attracting more users. The term “design” means not only the appearance of your application but also its user-friendliness.

It is the UI/UX design that is responsible for:

  • How successfully the functions of the application are introduced;

  • How quickly the user will understand the navigation;

  • How natural the features of the app are.

The UI/UX development process includes the following stages:

  • Mindmap. At this stage, we define the idea of the product, organize the information and learn the details.

  • UX Wireframes. This stage is divided into two parts:

  1. We design a low-detailed wireframe displaying the information structure and describing the user interaction with the interface, and look for problem areas. Sizes of the elements, icons, and sometimes their meaning may differ from their content. However, at this stage, it is not very important. Testing the hypothesis or group of hypotheses is imperative.

  2. We develop a highly detailed wireframe. With its help, we show and describe the product, the way it would look, and the ways how it will interact with the user, if it were a final product. We apply only a monochrome palette, which allows us to stay unbiased. The sizes of elements and icons, and also, content are important here.

  • Prototyping. After designing the product, we develop its prototype. It allows us to simulate the final interaction between the user and the interface, run the tests and retest our hypotheses. One of the main advantages of this stage is the collection of feedback and getting the approval from the stakeholder.

  • Interface. After coordination of the product’s framework with the stakeholder, we start to develop a visual part of the future product – its mockup - a low precision product presentation that allows us to sketch out and test the hypotheses to get feedback. In the context of the whole design project, this stage will help to formulate a significant chapter of the product documentation. Also, this step helps to identify the target audience and determine the general requirements for the product.

After receiving all the necessary info from the stakeholder, we proceed to a highly accurate representation of the future product.

  • The final stage is delivery to development. Before transferring to the implementation and development stage, the correct execution of the entire product must be checked. Mindmap, prototype, fonts, icons and the product’s description are prepared at this stage.

Development process

After the design and all the functions of the application have been defined, the next important step is the implementation of all ideas into the product. It is high time for developers to:

  • Build the system architecture. Selection and implementation of underlying technologies and elements, on which the structure of the application depends. This step also provides a foundation for further development and expansion of the app’s functionality.

  • Design the layout – practical implementation and integration of the design.

  • Develop Front/Back-end – development of the user interface and the software part of the service. At this stage, we also make recommendations on the necessary set of servers and external services (such as e-mail and SMS messaging, monitoring services, etc.)

  • Test. No application can be launched on the market without prior testing. At this stage, we check for the bugs and detect correctness of the app and all its functions.

  • Upload the application on the server(s). After the development and testing of the application are complete, we need to choose a hosting provider with round-the-clock support for your app.

  • Launch the app. The last step is to place the finished product in the Play Market and in the App Store, where your future consumers will be able to find it.

After all the above steps are completed, you will have a ready-made application, available for download and use by potential customers.

MVP Cost

The last but crucial question is the cost to build a shopping app. It is pretty difficult to give an exact answer to this question, without having the scope of work defined. However, to clarify this issue, let’s take the MVP cost calculation as an example. Minimum viable product (MVP) usually contains only the most important functions and features that solve the main problem of your consumers. Besides, the development of MVP allows you to get quick feedback from the users to improve the product as soon as possible.

Here is how the MVP for 10 pages mobile shopping app looks like:

1.    Design - 250

2.    Frontend - 280

3.    Backend - 320

4.    Mobile development - 162

Total: 1022 hours


To create a quality application, you will need to hire a professional team that can lead the project from the beginning and until you receive a complete product ready to enter the market.

UDTech has much more to tell about the application development process. So if you still have any questions do not hesitate and contact us today. We will provide you with professional assistance in the design and development of your product.