How Building eCommerce Apps is Different From Other Mobile Development Projects

Mobile e-commerce sales composed 34.5% of the total e-commerce sales last year, according to Statista, and this number will keep getting bigger. So if any retailer has not yet gotten a personal mobile app for their store, now it’s time to start thinking about one.

The process of developing an eCommerce mobile application is basically the same as for any mobile app. What differs is a set of components, that differentiate an eCommerce app from a game or any other application and allows it to conduct financial transactions and handle a big number of requests.

Payment gateway

A payment gateway is an essential component of any mobile e-commerce app. It is a service that helps users affect a payment and guarantees the security of in-app financial transactions.

The payment process within a mobile app goes as following:

  1. The user enters the payment details into an app form
  2. The app sends the information to the payment gateway
  3.  Payment gateway service encrypts the data and sends it to the issuing bank.
  4. The bank processes the request and either accepts or declines it.
  5. Upon approval, the payment is debited from the buyer’s card and is transferred to the seller.

There is a variety of payment gateway providers, with PayPal leading the list. Other popular and convenient services are Braintree, Stripe, 2Checkout, Amazon Payments.

One of the things to consider is to choose either a dedicated or aggregated merchant account. A dedicated account will grant you more control over your funds, like accelerating the speed of money transfer operations or adjustment to the customers’ needs, but this option is more expensive and complex. An aggregated account, on the other hand, offers faster and easier access to your account but keeps your funds together with other merchants’ funds.

Another crucial point is PCI DSS compliance. It does not matter whether you purchase the most expensive payment gateway system or the least expensive one, your app will have to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It is necessary for enhanced card information protection and security.

Analytics integration

Since your app is all about sales, you need to know the behavior of your customers and track their activity. As well, you have to know about your sales and store performance to adjust the marketing strategy correspondingly. For that, you must incorporate an analytics tool within your mobile app.

The most popular choice would be Google Analytics. It allows tracking screen activity (the most popular screen, duration of visits, etc.), events (button clicks, swipes, ad clicks), performance of individual products or categories and more. Due to the popularity of the tool, Google offers a ready integration solution for Apple Market and Google Play.

Synchronization with the website

A business mobile app does not necessarily have to 100% reflect the website. It may be supportive or carry a gamification function – but not when we speak about an e-commerce mobile app.

Once you synchronize your app and the website, it would significantly save your time on implementing any changes within a store. Instead of doing double-work, you will be able to perform the actions simultaneously on both platforms.

You can integrate the app with the website via the API or with the manual file upload. The first option is faster and smoother and you can set up your store to notify the server every time any change is applied.

Integration with social media

Social media is today’s most powerful tool to reach your customers and communicate with them. For the mobile app, it performs several important functions.

Social media is a great promotional tool as it allows users to interact with your brand and share it on personal profiles. But for e-commerce, it plays a more significant role.

Users tend to abandon their shopping carts due to the lengthy registration process. The integration of social media enables a one-click registration and decreases the abandoned cart rate.

Visual merchandising

Visual merchandising implies creating an attractive display of products in order to engage the customer and motivate them to buy from you. Speaking in terms of an e-commerce app, visual merchandising will be reflected via the app design and UX/UI.

Do not underestimate the role of a good design. Carefully selected design elements can encourage to interact with a product much more than a promotional email. The design of the application should reflect your brand, its message, relate to the target audience and communicate the overall nature of the brand.

The in-app navigation plays a significant role too as it will be responsible for the customer’s intent to buy. If the action takes too many clicks, the user will most likely stop doing it. So your primary task is to make navigation as natural and hassle-free as possible, allowing your customer to enjoy a buying experience.


Though seemingly obvious, wishlists remain a powerful tool to retain existing customers and attract new ones. The incorporation of a wishlist within your app will help you encourage users for a purchase, actively interact with your products and offer more personalized suggestions and recommendations.

Depending on your store, you can integrate either a single or multiple wishlists and categorize them (i.e. Christmas wishlist). One important thing is to enable an option of creating a “guest wishlist”: for that, the user will only need to provide an email address in order to access the wishlist from any device.

Wishlists, same as product carts, have to be visible and easily accessed and managed. Otherwise, there is a high risk of the users abandoning the order and leaving the app.

Integration with ERP and CRM

Your business solely depends on your customers and, thus, you have to efficiently manage your client base. For that, companies utilize Customer Relationship Management systems that allow storing customers’ data, analyzing it and using for future company development and sales growth. The analysis of the customers’ demographics and buying behavior contributes to tailoring one’s marketing strategy in order to meet the exact buyer’s needs and increase sales.

Another system that is crucial for any business is ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning. This system is incredibly complex and involves not only customers’ data but also information about all business processes. ERP contributes to smooth business management and helps to improve the company’s performance.

Since mobile application serves as a source of valuable information about the customers and their buying behavior, it would make sense to integrate the CRM and ERP systems into your application (a Magento agency will help do that). By doing so, you will centralize all your processes, coming from both the website and mobile, and will be able to keep an eye on all business flows and adjust them, if needed.

The above-mentioned features are specific for the e-commerce mobile apps, but another functionality is somewhat similar to any other application. It will depend on the type of goods/services that you offer, your target audience and other factors that should be outlined in advance before launching the app.

Irina Linnik a marketing specialist at Onilab – a Magento troubleshooting company. Being a savvy e-commerce observer she always keeps abreast of innovation and covers the latest industry trends.

Irina has over 5 years of experience in freelance writing and has helped numerous companies communicate their message across various channels.