E-commerce App Development: Must-Have Features & Benefits

Build an eCommerce App
Table of Contents

Building a successful e-commerce app involves a systematic approach.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.

online shopping is growing in popularity and it can be very profitable to build an ecommerce app

How to Build an E-commerce App 

Honestly, creating an e-commerce app follows the same broad processes of developing any app:

  1. Step 1: Identify your target audience: Understanding who your customers are will allow you to make decisions regarding the design and functionality of your app. Users’ needs should always be the priority.
  2. Step 2: Analyze your competition: Checking what your competitors are doing can give you insights into what works and what doesn’t in your particular market.
  3. Step 3: Define your app’s features: The features within your e-commerce app should cater to your customers’ needs and create a seamless shopping experience. This might include intuitive navigation, easy checkout processes, and product reviews.
  4. Step 4: Create wireframes and prototypes: Wireframes and prototypes give you a preview of what your app will look like. They can be very basic sketches, but they will help you visualize the app layout and design.
  5. Step 5: Develop your app: With your plan in place, you can start developing the app itself. At this stage, you will need to decide whether to use a native, web, or hybrid development approach.
  6. Step 6: Test your app: Testing is crucial to ensure everything on your app works as expected. Look for bugs, performance issues, and user interface problems.
  7. Step 7: Launch and promote your app: Once you are confident that your app works smoothly, you can launch it on app stores. Make sure to promote your app to your target audience and gather feedback for continuous improvement.

This will involve timely updates based on user feedback, regular bug fixes, and integrating new features aligned with the current market trends.

  • A product roadmap is crucial for mapping out how the app will work
  • Getting the right talent on board is the next key aspect 
  • Finally, consistent app maintenance is a crucial long-term step 

It might seem like a lot but remember, you want an app that constantly engages your users.

Marketplace vs e-commerce app: what’s the difference?

Before we dive into how to build an e-commerce app, let’s distinguish it from a marketplace app.

An e-commerce app pertains to a single brand or retailer. 

For example, apps like Nike or Apple offer an e-commerce shopping experience exclusively for their products. 

difference between e-commerce and marketplace app

On the other hand, a marketplace app acts as a platform for multiple vendors. 

It allows diverse sellers to showcase their products or services under one umbrella app. Amazon or eBay, for instance, are marketplace apps.

Must-have features of e-commerce apps

An e-commerce app requires certain features that satisfy customer needs and provide a seamless shopping experience. 

The must-have features of e-commerce apps include:

Mobile-friendly Interface

The user interface should be appealing and easy to navigate. 

The categories, products, and menus must be well-organized and identifiable to keep users engaged. 

It’s important to note that a user-friendly interface isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s essential. 

Any e-commerce app worth its salt is built with user experience front and center. 

After all, an intuitive, pleasing app encourages users to explore, stay longer, and ultimately, make a purchase. 

Advanced Search and Filter

Facilitate customers’ shopping experience by incorporating advanced search and filter options. 

This helps users find exactly what they’re looking for in less time. 

For niche e-commerce apps, the importance of advanced search and filter options cannot be overstated. 

Niche markets often have unique or highly specific products, and customers searching these apps have particular needs and preferences. 

Customer Reviews and Ratings

A review and rating system allows customers to relay their experience with a product or service to other users. 

This can influence purchase decisions and provide valuable feedback on products. 

Customer reviews and ratings also help owners filter SKUs. 

Owners can give products with consistently positive reviews more visibility on the platform and phase out unpopular items.

Secure Payment Gateways

Integrate secure and diverse payment gateways to ensure a safe and smooth transaction process. 

Offering an array of payment options is a must. Ideally, your e-commerce app should cater to all preferred modes of payment for your diverse user base. This can range from credit and debit cards, digital wallets, cash on delivery, to other financial platforms. 

Seamless Checkout Process

showing an unhappy user when you build an ecommerce app without a smooth checkout process

Just as important as the buying process is the checkout. 

This should be fuss-free and quick to prevent shopping cart abandonment. 

Push Notifications

Sending push notifications about offers, discounts, and new arrivals keeps customers updated and engaged with the app. 

However, it’s pivotal to maintain a balanced approach when it comes to push notifications. 

While keeping your customers informed is essential, it’s equally crucial not to overwhelm them with excessive notifications. 

Multiple Language and Currency Support

To cater to a global user base, your app should support multiple languages and currencies. 

By incorporating multiple languages and currency support into your e-commerce app, you’re able to tap into lucrative, international markets. 

Particularly, China and Japan, countries with booming digital consumer landscapes and monolingual populations, become accessible. 

Customer Support

Excellent customer service is key for customer retention and resolving queries or shopping issues. 

One innovative way to provide economical yet efficient 24×7 customer support is through the implementation of AI-powered chatbots.

These bots can handle multiple queries simultaneously, reducing wait times and improving customer experience. 

The beauty of these chatbots lies in their ability to learn and adapt over time. 

Benefits of an e-commerce app for a business

showing an online shopper of a brick and mortar business if they build an ecommerce app

Creating an e-commerce app has numerous benefits for existing businesses.


An app will significantly increase the accessibility of the business, making its products or services available at the fingertips of potential customers. 

This ease of access can drive sales and grow the customer base. 

Customer demographic data

An e-commerce app provides invaluable user data, enabling the business to understand customers’ purchasing habits and preferences more precisely. 

This information can then be used to craft more personalized and effective marketing strategies. 

Digitize business processes

An e-commerce app can streamline operations and make them more efficient. 

With automated order processing and inventory management, businesses can save time and resources, ensuring more accurate and speedy service for customers. 

Enhances branding and credibility

In today’s world, an app can significantly boost a business’s credibility and reputation. 

An app demonstrates to consumers that the company is up-to-date, tech-savvy, and customer-centric, factors that can greatly enhance brand image and trustworthiness.

Costs involved in building an e-commerce app

A crucial factor in the journey to build an e-commerce app is undoubtedly the financial aspect. However, understand that the costs involve more than just app development.

It extends beyond that, starting from the planning stage and continuing into post-launch support. 

Cost DescriptionEstimated Cost
Market Analysis and Research$1000 – $3000
User Interface (UI)/User Experience (UX) Design$2000 – $6000
E-commerce App Development$7000 – $35000 depending on complexity
Quality Assurance and Testing$1000 – $3000
App Store Submission$100 – $400 annually
Annual App Maintenance15% – 20% of the development cost

Beware ‘the network effect’ of e-commerce apps

network effect of e-commerce apps

The ‘network effect’ refers to a situation where the value, or usefulness, of an app increases with the number of its users. 

This phenomenon presents both opportunities and challenges to businesses venturing into e-commerce. 

For a new e-commerce app to be successful, it needs to attract a considerable number of users quickly to start this network effect.

But without a significant user base, your app might not yet be appealing to potential customers, turning into a catch-22 situation. 

Our five favourite e-commerce app examples


sephora e-commerce app

One of the best e-commerce apps, this beauty brand provides more than just shopping. 

With features like virtual try-ons, beauty tips, and in-app purchases, Sephora is a perfect example of how an e-commerce app can leverage advanced technology to enhance customers’ shopping experience. 


asos e-commerce app

This fashion-focused e-commerce app sets the bar high with enriched features like personalized recommendations, an easy-to-navigate interface, and a quick checkout process. 

ASOS also offers a visual search tool that helps users find the clothes they are dreaming about more quickly. 


wish e-commerce app

Wish stands out in the e-commerce app world thanks to its gamified shopping approach. 

Users can play games to earn discounts, making the shopping process fun and engaging — a significant reason this app is among the best e-commerce apps available today. 


wayfair e-commerce app

This home goods e-commerce app excels at simplifying the shopping process. 

Wayfair offers a room planner feature to visualize products in your space and a selection of helpful search tools. 

It is an excellent example of how e-commerce app development can fully serve a customer’s needs. 


nike e-commerce app

Nike, a leading sportswear brand, offers a brilliant e-commerce app. 

One feature of note is the ability for users to customize products, offering a unique and personal shopping experience. 

Nike understands the importance of customer engagement, making it among the best e-commerce apps on the market. 

Final thoughts

If you’re wondering about the duration of e-commerce app development, it generally takes, on average, between 3 to 6 months

The timeframe could vary depending on the complexity, features, and design of the app. 

If you’re ready to make the leap and build your e-commerce app, don’t hesitate to engage with professional app developers who can guide you through the process and help turn your vision into reality.

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