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E-Commerce App Development- A Complete Guide in 2021


When we talk about e-commerce, Amazon, eBay, Myntra, and Flipkart are prominent thoughts that fill our minds. Shopping reformed substantially with these sites. Commerce developed into e-commerce, and the convenience added transformed the consumer. E-commerce penetration into industries across domains facilitated the way business and sales started happening.

The most common touchpoint today that connects almost everybody, including businesses and consumers seamlessly is the 24-7 connectivity being offered by mobile internet service providers. Developing e-commerce platforms and websites that are mobile device-friendly is the most popular demand. E-commerce is fast transcending into mobile commerce or m-commerce.

As the usage of mobile phones and devices including tablets and laptops skyrocketed, the business value added with the development of operating system-friendly applications also rose exponentially. e-Commerce can be rightly referred to as m-commerce today.

With the most prominent of questions being as to what is the best approach towards developing a robust e-commerce app, this blog will help you with basic considerations that must be kept in mind while deciding to supplement an e-commerce business and website with an app.

Table of Contents

Rationale Behind App Development for e-Commerce Businesses
e-Commerce App Types
Developmental Components of an e-Commerce App
Essential Features for e-Commerce App Development
Simplified Process for e-Commerce App Development

Rationale Behind App Development for e-Commerce Businesses

Developing an e-commerce app that can be accessed and operated from about anywhere at any time is more of an asset necessary for the efficient performance of any business today. With retail mostly happening through mobile and online channels, an application can add immense value to the chain of events that control business transactions.

A look into the statistics also indicate a favorable course for e-commerce app development with nearly 80% of smartphone users making some or the other purchase online. As more and more people are shopping over the internet, it becomes all the more imperative to have a mobile-friendly channel for sales of commodities.

If we have to justify as to why having an application supplementing the e-commerce business is a must have, an easy list of advantages can be convincing enough for retail or e-commerce business owners to consider as they make up their mind in this direction:

Online shopping is the new trend

Benefits for small and new businesses

Helps attract customers easily
It is a competitive advantage
Helps increase sales

Everything mobile is the millennial choice
Enables better customer service
Allows customization of offerings – easy to build a customer centric business
Easy analytical analysis of all activities
Enables contactless payments
More and improved marketing 
Brand building and propagation is easier
Customer loyalty is enhanced

Creating an environment where customers are able to get a more personalized and responsive shopping experience is bound to retain them. They will want to re-visit and even recommend the shopping platform or app ahead for perks like loyalty and recommender benefits. 

Achieving different business objectives through different types of applications is a significant benefit usually overlooked by business owners. When launching an app can help meet business goals like better UX-UI, leading to better user engagement and increased conversion, understanding what type of an application is needed can be a positive step towards meeting the aim.

In the section ahead, before we address the approach to be taken for an e-commerce app development, we discuss briefly the different types of apps that can be developed, for different business objectives and models.

e-Commerce App Types

Smartphones for shopping have driven mobile commerce (m-commerce) to a platform which is proving to be a constant propeller for businesses. The success mantra has brought a new dimension for businesses to draw revenue from. Mobile applications have added timeless connectivity for customers. They are now able to access their favorite stores at any time to place their orders.

Based on various models that exist within business, the applications that will support the operations are also different. Developed to fulfill certain business goals and meet objectives, the applications are differentiated on the basis of their features as well as functionalities.

If you are to launch an e-commerce business, there are high chances that you fall in one of these four broad categories:

Business-to-Business (B2B)
Business-to-Consumer (B2C)
Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C)
Consumer-to-Business (C2B)

There are however other types of models that operate, and there are companies that run on a blend of 2 or even more models.

Depending on the type of transactions expected as part of the business model, wisely choose an app type that allows convenient exchange of commodities and assets over the channel. The application will intend to serve as an important mode of communication between the two parties. Both the seller (offering party) and the buyer (receiving party) must be able to complete their role through the app.

E-commerce Application Types

Different types of e-commerce apps, developed to facilitate different activities that will be happening over them, are described here:

1. B2B (Business-to-Business) e-Commerce App

Applications capable of enabling business deals over their interface fall into this category. Goods as well as services can be exchanged via a mobile channel, catering to big transactions for large quantities of exchange. 

Alibaba, Amazon Business, and Quill are examples where industries sell to retailers, who further sell to consumers. So the products sold here can become raw material or items of sale for other industries ahead.

2. B2C (Business-to-Consumer) e-Commerce App

The applications developed to supplement a B2C model will consume the company at one end and the end user of the product at the other. Sales happen directly through the application channel. Amazon and Dominos are examples of such e-commerce apps.

Such applications provide the consumer with direct access to all the products being offered by a company, where retailers might limit the stocks and variety when dealing with multiple brands.

3. C2B (Consumer-to-Business) e-Commerce App

Businesses are also buyers for niche domain specific offerings like content, design, and technical assets. C2B applications like Clutch and GitHub are a platform for subject matter experts to display their talent and build such business relationships.

Businesses build unique merits on such buys and recommend enhancing the practice of sharing precious talent through such channels.

4. C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer) e-Commerce App

When consumers exchange their products, offerings, or services amongst themselves, without the role of any business or company, a C2C type of model functions through a mobile app.

Applications like OLX and EBay, that allow consumers to sell their products to other people like themselves, endorse such sale and purchase, enabling a connectivity between a wider user base like the community.

5. Other application types
Ticketing Booking e-Commerce App

These e-commerce apps are to make bookings for cabs, hotels, live shows, games, travel, professional or social events and parties. The organizers utilize the application to share details of their activity, and interested people avail the facility to buy tickets or passes by paying through the application interface.

Goibibo and Momondo are popular examples of ticket booking applications. Other such e-commerce apps allow exchange of such commodities between the organizers, event managers, and the end users directly.

e-Commerce aggregator App

The mobile applications that build a connection between the end customer and the service providers like Walmart Inc. and Etsy Inc. are aggregator e-commerce apps. They tend to offer a platform to service providers for listing their offerings, items, or products, and buyers can buy or avail them off the application interface.

The application owners themselves do not provide any of the listed services, nor do they need any infrastructural setup, but propagate the services of sellers who join the app for their business.

When developing an e-commerce app, certain components are common across the different types discussed above. These components contribute to a smooth functioning of the application.

Developmental Components of an e-Commerce App

Development of an e-commerce app is a guided process. The objective or business goal to be met decides what all to be included and in what format. But there are certain elements that are common in all e-commerce apps.

Discussing briefly those essential components that help build an application for full-circle functions to be performed efficiently.

Developmental Components of an e-Commerce Application

1. Multimedia Content

Different types of content running within an e-commerce app, text, images, videos, graphics, and even audio, that drive the user journeys on the application comprise the multimedia content. They are the main reason a user remains hooked to the app and conducts transactions over it. 

Drafted with an effort to imitate interactions between two humans, the content is responsible for generating customer loyalty and conversions on the app.

2. Content Storage Servers

Servers powerful enough to support diverse content in large quantities need to be installed. The digital content is distributed to users and received with important information regarding their details. The servers must be robust, secure, and reliable to cater to the user-base on the app.

a. Multimedia Server Processors

The servers that convert raw data from various media sources into readable information require processors that are reliable and robust. Dealing with data and information that is critical from the user’s perspective, the processor works on it and stores it for all e-commerce apps.

Since these processors handle an excessive amount of data from thousands of users simultaneously using the application, they must be backed with symmetric multiprocessors with parallel processing capabilities. Different forms of data are processed for information exchange through the app interface.

b. Client Server Architecture

The basic architecture of majority of e-commerce apps is centered around message passing between the client/consumer and the server. The format is of a ‘request-response’ type, in the sequence of events taking place.

A user interface is mostly a device that takes the query which is taken care of at the server end. Storage, security, execution, as well as progress are all happening at the server end of the e-commerce app.

c. Servers for Videos and e-Commerce

While developing an application for any e-commerce purpose, it must be kept in mind that various forms of video data will be fed into it, and received from it for various activities. Video servers must be an integral component while planning the development of an e-commerce app.

These servers manage videos for telecommunicating, shopping, advertisements, video chats, and corporate multimedia. They must harbor the capability to deal with planktonic quantities coming in from several thousand users simultaneously.

3. Information Exchange for e-Commerce Apps

Information exchange happening over an e-commerce app is majorly utilizing 3 services in coordination with each other:

Wireless services – managing the cellular, paging, and radio applications
Telecommunication services – telephonic connectivity, both local and international
Cable services – handle internet and related services with coaxial, satellite lines, optic fibers, and computer services

These together control the communication channels running over any e-commerce app.

4. Access Devices – Consumer End

The usage of any e-commerce app at the consumer or buyer end is dependent on the execution or end device. Different users use different devices as per their comfort and tasks at hand. Devices can vary from a static personal computer, to television, mobile or smart phones, tablets, smart watches, voice assistants, and many more.

Their experience also varies as per the device used. The development must be robust enough to give a uniform UX across the different devices.

The basic inclusions when in place, finalizing the features an e-commerce app must have is the next task at hand. Here is a segment that describes the features that must be developed from the MVP stage itself.

Essential Features for e-Commerce App Development

Mapping the most important features while developing an e-commerce app is one of the most crucial factors that play a part in the success of the business running over the app. Knowing that people are using mobiles for almost everything they do, the development must take care of integrating maximum convenience while a transaction happens through an e-commerce app.

The chosen feature list will help define the final structure of the application, it’s design, and cost of development. 

Essential Features for e-Commerce App Development

Many features can be added and deleted from this list based on the different goals of the e-commerce app being developed. Custom mobile app development is thus always the best approach when deciding to develop an e-commerce app.

Get a Competitive e-Commerce App with Stellar Features.

Consult Experts

e-Commerce App Development: The Process Simplified

Mobile app development requires inputs from experts from different areas, including a member with subject matter expertise in the area of the e-commerce business for which an app is being developed. Entrepreneurs and new businesses often find themselves amidst a crossroad with questions like:

What to consider before beginning?
What type of technology partner to tie up with?
How much responsibility sharing can be there?
What all features to develop that are necessary to begin with?

All these questions need to be answered well in time before moving ahead with the app development. Here we share below, in sequence, steps that will help you across the process without any hassle.

Identify App Goals

The success of any e-commerce app is dependent on how efficiently it is able to meet the business objectives. If what objectives need to be met through the app are unclear, it’s development will always falter and fail the purpose.

Be specific in laying down set objectives, so as to plan for integrating specific functionalities that need to be developed. The idea should be to collect relevant data through the app, so as to refine the business, with better services and products.

Identify the Audience

Those who will use the e-commerce app will ultimately decide the fate of the business it is supplementing. So, it is imperative to clearly map the user-base and their likes, dislikes, demography, interests, and feedback on the app.

Understanding the nature of the app user will help develop user journeys and stories that leave a lasting impact, and keeps the customer coming back to the app. In the process of identifying the audience for the app and their interests, the niche for the app is also identified. This in a way helps shape the process of e-commerce app development.

Select the Right Technology

As we now understand the users of the app being developed, and the functions it will perform, the next step is to decide what type of an app is needed. For e-commerce, two formats: PWAs and Native apps form the best choices.

PWAs or Progressive Web Apps are, as the name implies, progressive websites that operate with the agility and performance of a mobile application. The only difference being that they need not be downloaded from play stores, instead need internet connectivity to be accessed through browsers.
PWAs can be the choice in case there is a limitation with regard to the budget, and the traffic on your e-commerce platform is already good.

Native Apps are regular applications that need to be downloaded from play stores, and need to be developed specifically for operating systems like Android and iOS. The scope to play with the UI-UX in case of Native apps is large, and allows users to experience premium features offered by mobile phones, like access to photos, camera, an interactive interface, and the ability to use the app when offline.
They add to the appeal of the e-commerce store along with allowing immense data on the customer’s behavior and choices to be saved as reference for refining services and products.

Choosing what path to take will depend on the end offering that is made to the customers who choose to visit the e-commerce store. With app development, there is scope for customization and scalability. A technology partner with custom app development services will be able to work in sync with your ideas and create the product of your vision.

Identify Requirements & Features

Moving ahead after deciding what to develop, for whom to develop, and how to develop, it is now time to brainstorm on the features to be included in the e-commerce app. We did identify some must-have features that should be a part of almost every e-commerce app.

The team must give their inputs and suggestions to the development team as to what all should be included as part of the offering to the customers or app users. A business specific feature list prepared after thorough planning needs to be identified.

Some e-commerce features that add convenience

Clarity on the features to be integrated and developed before the actual development of the app begins will help make the app development an efficient exercise.

Process and Budget Planning

Identifying or wanting to include features and functionalities into the e-commerce app is a process that involves much thought, but relating the requirements to the budget is a concern that must not be ignored.

Planning for the integrations and development must take into consideration:

Whether the app is a bespoke app or a generic app
Whether a SAAS solution or one-time offering is being developed 
Various pros and cons of each kind of addition to the app

All these points when discussed will help narrowing down to a budget that will be justified towards the type of e-commerce app being developed.

The owners must make sure even while choosing an agile software development company for the app development, none of the requests must go beyond the budget estimates at any time, so as to maintain a comfortable business ROI.

Quality Testing and App Release

No matter how robust the development process, and how experienced the brains behind the planning, there are bound to be loopholes. A thorough testing process for load, regression, device, performance, responsiveness, and usability must be a part of standard app development procedures.

After rigorous testing the app is packaged for release onto the play stores. The app must be ideally developed for both iOS and Android play store launch. Make sure there are qualified testers on the team to generate proper quality documents after the testing.

These documents help in building the credibility of the app while releasing it on the play stores.

Marketing the App

Now that the app is released and out for downloading and use, marketing the e-commerce business and the app will help generate business leads.

Use SEO tools and a combination of marketing strategies like content, social media, and loyalty programs to popularize the name of the e-commerce brand. The marketing tools are best utilized if integrated while the app is being developed. 

This helps the app or the business owner initialize marketing activities at the launch, growing the business to a scale where a separate marketing team can be built.

These steps will definitely add to the quality and efficiency of the app development process. From here the further objective should be to improvise and develop an app that meets current market standards for quality and technological maturity.

Design an e-Commerce App Supplementing and Augmenting the Business Goal

Know How

Concluding Remarks

e-Commerce businesses today are innovating their customer centricity to a level where they are becoming a part of everyday lives of people. Integrating intelligent features so as to build responsiveness and engagement with buyers has augmented the entire online shopping experience.

The development of an e-commerce app has hence geared up exponentially to keep pace with the consumer demands and expectations. The possibility of receiving an in-store experience with the convenience of being at home has driven the customer to define standards for the e-commerce app developers.

A new businessman in the e-commerce industry will often find himself at the crossroads of figuring out what all to add, build, exclude, and launch for meeting the new consumer in their journey of technological maturity. This blog will help them define a basic flowchart of steps to be taken while developing an application for their e-commerce business model.

Most ideally, partnering with technology service providers offering custom mobile app development will serve the best purpose in developing an e-commerce app. More so, connect with software companies where agile development forms their core strength. They will most likely translate the e-commerce business vision into a perfect e-commerce mobile app.

Without a doubt, a good technology partner will help an e-commerce business scale to new heights by developing an engaging mobile application to escalate customer experience. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, or an e-commerce business owner, take a call, and connect with one today.

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