By 2027, 62% of the world’s ecommerce profits are expected to come from mobile platforms. (Statista, 2023) 

This significant trend explains why many businesses are eagerly entering the lucrative ecommerce app market.

By investing in ecommerce app development, you can reach a wider audience, improve customer engagement through personalized experiences, and boost conversion rates and revenue. 

But how do you build an ecommerce app? 

And more importantly, what are the benefits, and what’s the best way to do it?

Not to worry — we’ll answer those questions and more in this comprehensive guide.

Plus, we’ll share the most efficient approach to ecommerce app development — partnering with a nearshore software development company like Distillery. 

Further Reading:
Find out how Software Outsourcing can accelerate your product’s launch and enhance its scalability.
Explore 10 Ways Outsourcing Companies Use AI to Enhance their Operational Efficiency.
Discover the benefits of Outsourcing IT Services and get tips to do it successfully in our comprehensive guide.

This Article Contains:

What Is Ecommerce App Development?

Ecommerce app development involves creating mobile applications that enable businesses to sell and market products and services online. 

The ecommerce application development process typically starts with market research and planning. Then, it moves to the product design phase, followed by development, rigorous testing, and finally, deployment. 

Businesses may either outsource this mobile app development to a specialized ecommerce app development company (like Distillery) or assemble an in-house team of app developers to take on the task. 

Why do businesses opt for ecommerce apps?

Businesses invest in ecommerce apps to expand their market reach, boost sales, and enhance customer engagement. Plus, features like user-specific product recommendations and streamlined checkout processes contribute to increased conversions and customer satisfaction. 

Here’s an example:

A boutique fashion retailer invests in an ecommerce app to broaden its market presence beyond its physical store. The app, tailored for luxury shoppers, offers exclusive collections, virtual try-ons, and personalized styling advice. This investment not only drives online sales but also creates a more convenient and personalized shopping experience for customers. 

What Are the Different Types of Ecommerce Apps? (Includes Examples)

Ecommerce apps have revolutionized the way we buy and sell, catering to diverse market needs and business models. 

Depending on your business, you can choose from the following types of ecommerce applications:

A. Based on Transaction Participants

  • B2B (Business-to-Business) Ecommerce Apps: These apps facilitate transactions between businesses. For instance, Amazon Business and Quill cater to the specific needs of companies, offering bulk purchasing and pricing.
  • B2C (Business-to-Consumer) Ecommerce Apps: Designed for direct sales between businesses and individual customers. Popular examples include Amazon for retail products and Domino’s for food delivery.
  • C2B (Consumer-to-Business) Ecommerce Apps: These mobile device platforms enable consumers to offer products or services to businesses. GitHub supports developer collaborations, while Clutch allows businesses to find and hire agencies or consultants.
  • C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer) Ecommerce Apps: These apps facilitate transactions between consumers, such as OLX for used goods and eBay for a wide range of products.

B. Based on Business Model or Functionality

  • Ecommerce Aggregator Apps: These mobile device apps compile offerings from various vendors under one platform, like Zomato and Grubhub for food delivery services.
  • Ticketing & Booking Ecommerce Apps: Specialized in reservations and bookings — examples include Expedia and
  • Auction/Bidding Ecommerce Apps: Platforms like eBay and Sotheby’s allow users to bid on items ranging from everyday products to exclusive collectibles.

C. Others

  • Social Ecommerce Apps (e.g., Pinterest)
  • Subscription-Based Ecommerce Apps (e.g., Birchbox)
  • Dropshipping Ecommerce Apps (e.g., Oberlo)
  • Flash Sales and Deals Ecommerce Apps (e.g., Groupon)

To help you stay ahead of the curve, we’ll now delve into the latest trends and insights that are shaping the ecommerce app development landscape in 2024. 

The global ecommerce app market reached $3.59 trillion in 2022 and is predicted to hit $6.9 trillion in 2024 and $8.15 trillion by the end of 2026.

China leads the global ecommerce market with a remarkable 64.1% share, while the United States follows as a significant contributor, accounting for approximately 10% of worldwide ecommerce transactions.

Key players in this competitive market include giants like Amazon, Alibaba Group, and Walmart among others. 

These are the trends to watch out for in 2024 and beyond:

  • Big Data: Enhances customer experience by analyzing consumer behavior and preferences using extensive data sets.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Experience: Transforms shopping into an immersive experience using AR and VR technologies.
  • One-Click Purchase: Streamlines the buying process by enabling transactions with a single click. 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chatbots: Provides instant customer service and personalized shopping assistance using round-the-clock artificial intelligence chatbots.
  • Social Media Commerce: Seamlessly integrates shopping features into social media platforms, facilitating direct purchases from social feeds.
  • Voice Assistants: Offers hands-free shopping and browsing options through voice recognition technology.
  • Integration of Apps with Wearables: Allows e-commerce interactions directly from wearable devices, enhancing convenience and accessibility.
  • Geofencing: Targets potential customers in specific locations through location-based marketing and offers.
  • Enhanced Security Measures: Strengthens trust by implementing advanced cybersecurity measures to protect customer data (e.g., using biometric authentication for app access). 
  • Sustainability and Eco-friendly Practices: Focuses on reducing environmental impact through sustainable practices in product sourcing, packaging, and delivery.

Next, we’ll take a look at how the ecommerce app development process works.

How to Build an Ecommerce App: 10 Key Steps To Follow + Examples

Here are 10 essential steps to guide you through the ecommerce app development process from concept to launch:

1. Identify the Target Audience

Identifying the target audience involves researching your ideal customer’s age, preferences, and buying habits, ensuring the app caters to their specific needs. 

A well-defined audience profile leads to a more focused and effective product design and functionality. 

For example, a B2B ecommerce app tailored for construction firms could feature one-click ordering for bulk materials and real-time tracking for equipment delivery with detailed notifications.

2. Set Clear Goals

You need to set clear goals for your ecommerce app based on what your business aims to achieve. This will guide the ecommerce application development process and help you measure success post-launch. This will also help you prioritize features, and allocate resources efficiently for growth and scalability. 

Plus, you need to look at what performance metrics, including engagement, conversions, and sales growth, you will use to evaluate the app’s success.

For example, an app of an eco-friendly boutique should focus on eco-conscious shoppers, simplifying their search for sustainable, ethically made clothing. Success is gauged by specific metrics like a 25% increase in daily active users and a 15% rise in conversion rates.

3. Select the Right Platform

Choosing the right platform, whether iOS (Apple App Store), Android (Google Play), or both, depends on your target audience’s device preferences. This decision impacts your app’s reach and effectiveness. 

For instance, if the majority of your target audience uses iOS, prioritizing Apple’s App Store could maximize your app’s visibility and adoption.

4. Define the Feature Set

When defining the feature set, it’s crucial to select functionalities that align with your business goals and user preferences. 

This way, you can ensure your app offers an effective user experience. 

For example, an ecommerce application for electronic goods might include detailed product specifications, comparison tools, and customer reviews for informed purchasing.

What Are The Essential Features Your Ecommerce App Must Have?

While every ecommerce application is unique, a successful ecommerce application typically has the following features:

  • A quick and easy registration process
  • User account management
  • Advanced search bar and filter
  • Easy navigation
  • Product details including high-quality images and videos
  • Customer reviews
  • Shopping cart and wishlist
  • Secure checkout and payment systems
  • Shipping options
  • Push notifications
  • Delivery status tracking
  • Customer support
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Refunds management

Plus, some advanced features that customers may expect in 2024 and beyond:

  • Personalized recommendations
  • Preview of products/services using augmented reality
  • Social media integration
  • Offline mode
  • Voice and image search
  • Multilingual and multi-currency support

5. Plan the Process and Budget 

When planning the process and budget for an ecommerce application, start by defining your project scope, development phases, and the features and expertise you need. 

To estimate the costs, research industry standards for similar projects and consult with ecommerce app development experts to gain insights into current market rates.

And don’t forget to take additional expenses into account (e.g. tech stack subscriptions, digital marketing, and ongoing maintenance costs).

You can then assign timelines and cost estimates to each phase allowing for a comprehensive budget that covers the entire ecommerce application development lifecycle.

Plus, if you opt to outsource your ecommerce app development to a nearshore software development partner like Distillery, you can benefit from expedited project timelines and reduced costs — thanks to the lower salaries and living costs in countries like Argentina and Mexico

Want to know more? Contact Distillery now.

6. Design the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI)

The success of your ecommerce mobile application heavily depends on its UX and UI since these two elements directly impact user experience. 

Here’s how:

The UX app design focuses on the app’s overall feel and how easy it is for users to accomplish their goals, while the UI app design deals with the specific elements users interact with, like buttons and icons.

For example, an ecommerce mobile application for a clothing brand might have a clean, minimalistic UI and an intuitive UX that allows users to easily filter products by size, color, and style.

7. Build a Minimal Viable Product (MVP)

Creating an MVP involves developing a basic version of your ecommerce mobile application with only the most essential features. This focused approach enables you to launch the product quickly and test your core concept in the live market.

For example, the MVP of a grocery delivery ecommerce app may only include essential functions like adding items to a cart and a straightforward checkout process. 

8. Gather User Feedback

Once the MVP is launched, collecting user feedback is critical for understanding its effectiveness and areas for improvement. 

How do you gather this feedback?
Your internal development team or external app development company can gather this data via surveys and user testing sessions. 

For instance, if users of the newly launched grocery delivery app report difficulty in navigating the product categories, the team can use this feedback to refine the app’s UX design in subsequent updates.

9. Conduct Quality Tests & Release the App

Quality testing is a critical phase where the mobile app is rigorously tested for bugs, performance issues, and user experience flaws. This process includes various tests like functional testing, usability testing, and security checks. 

For example, in a grocery delivery app, testers would simulate user interactions, check payment gateway security, and ensure efficient performance under different conditions. 

Once the mobile ecommerce app has successfully passed all quality tests and meets the required standards, it is released to the market. 

What is the best ecommerce mobile app development company that can assure you good quality assurance talent?

Partnering with a nearshore software development company like Distillery gives you access to top-tier quality assurance engineers who can deliver the best ecommerce apps for your business.

10. Iterate Based on Feedback and Data

After the app’s release, the next step is to make continuous improvements to it based on user feedback, user analytics, and mobile app performance metrics. 

For instance, if data shows that users of the grocery delivery app are frequently abandoning carts at the payment stage, the ecommerce development team could then iterate the checkout process by implementing one-click payment methods to streamline the process. 

Now you may be wondering: 

How long does the process of ecommerce app development take?

If you need custom software development, expect the process to take between 3–12 months or more depending on the complexity of the mobile app, features, your team’s expertise, and the level of customization needed. Alternatively, budget for a maximum of three months if your business prefers an off-the-shelf or basic app builder solution.

Remember, outsourcing your ecommerce app development can expedite the timeline by tapping into a larger team of experts with advanced expertise and resources.

Let’s now turn our attention to why you should invest in an ecommerce app in the first place. 

9 Essential Reasons Why You Should Develop an Ecommerce App

From cutting costs to gaining a competitive edge, here are nine benefits of developing an ecommerce mobile app:

  • Lower Long-Term Costs: While developing a mobile ecommerce app is an investment, it will optimize your inventory management and operational efficiency and reduce long-term costs through digital transformation. 
  • Enhanced Market Reach: Expand your business, reaching customers across different regions and devices with a single native app.
  • Higher Conversion Rates: Boost conversions through personalized user experiences and easy navigation, leading to faster purchases. In-app notifications and simplified payment methods further boost sales. 
  • Higher User Engagement: Quickly deploy and evaluate different features, enhancing user engagement and native app functionality.
  • Advanced User Analytics: Gather detailed insights into user behavior, preferences, and trends to inform strategic decisions and improve offerings.
  • Personalized Communication: Send tailored messages and offers to users based on their shopping behavior and preferences, enhancing engagement.
  • Improved User Experience: A well-designed ecommerce app can offer quicker loading times than a progressive web app, creating a smoother, more responsive shopping experience.
  • Greater Brand Awareness: Strengthen brand presence and loyalty by providing a convenient, always-accessible mobile app to customers.
  • Higher Competitive Advantage: Differentiate your business by offering unique, personalized shopping experiences and instant access to products. 

Now, let’s look at the flip side of the coin of ecommerce app development.

7 Key Challenges You May Face in Ecommerce App Development

While developing an ecommerce app can unlock significant opportunities, it also comes with its share of hurdles.

Let’s take a look:

  • Data and Privacy Risks: A lack of strong encryption and security measures risks exposing user data. 
  • Scaling Difficulties: Inadequate scalability planning may lead to performance issues during peak demands.
  • Operational Instability: Skipping regular ecommerce application updates and tests can cause crashes and downtime, hurting the user experience. 
  • Brand & UI Inconsistency: Challenges in maintaining a consistent brand and user interface across devices can affect customer loyalty.
  • Payment Integration Complexities: Limited payment options can restrict customer convenience and limit global reach.
  • Compliance Failures: Ignoring ecommerce regulations and data laws risks legal problems and damages trust. 
  • Supply Chain Disruptions: When this happens, real-time inventory levels may not reflect on the app, causing customer dissatisfaction from order cancellations or delays. 
  • Cost-Quality Trade-offs: Striking a balance between keeping ecommerce development costs low and maintaining high quality often requires making careful compromises to achieve both objectives effectively.
  • Technological Lag: For example, if an e-commerce app lacks augmented reality (AR) features for product visualization, it risks losing ground to competitors that offer this immersive shopping experience.

But, outsourcing your ecommerce mobile app development can help mitigate these risks. 

Outsourced development teams offer advanced expertise not only in data security but also in scaling, rigorous testing, updates, and complying with international standards. 

Even better, nearshoring through an ecommerce app development company like Distillery ensures you strike an optimal balance between cost and quality. 

Speaking of costs, let’s explore the factors that may impact how much you may have to chip out for your mobile ecommerce app.

5 Crucial Factors Affecting Ecommerce App Development Costs

From the platforms you select to the location of your development team, here are five elements that will impact project costs:

1. App Type and Size

The complexity of your app, whether it’s a simple online store or a multi-vendor marketplace, significantly influences ecommerce app development costs. 

For instance, a basic ecommerce mobile app costs less than a feature-rich platform like Amazon.

2. Platforms and Devices Supported

Developing an app for multiple platforms (iOS, Android) and ensuring compatibility with various devices (smartphones, tablets) adds to costs. 

An app supporting both iOS and Android will be more expensive than one for a single platform.

3. App Features and Functionalities

The number and sophistication of features impact costs. 

For example, integrating an advanced payment gateway, real-time customer support, and AI-driven product recommendations increases development expenses compared to a basic shopping cart ecommerce application.

4. Maintenance Costs

Keeping your ecommerce mobile app competitive demands regular maintenance — a process that requires ongoing financial investments for development teams, app updates, and server upgrades.

5. The Structure and Location of the Development Team

Whether you opt to build your app in-house or via an external app development company, the composition, size, and expertise of the development team have a direct impact on project costs.

For in-house teams, bridging skill gaps with new hires or training elevates project costs due to higher salaries and benefits.

When you’re outsourcing your mobile app development, the location of the mobile app development company also impacts costs:

  • Nearshore: Outsource your ecommerce mobile app development to nearby countries like Mexico and Argentina. Benefit from shared work hours with the US, seamless communication, and cost savings due to the lower living and salary costs in these regions. Distillery is your best partner for nearshore app development.
  • Offshore: Hire a mobile app development company from distant countries like India or China. While this model offers higher cost savings compared to nearshoring, you may face significant cultural and linguistic challenges. 
  • Onshore: Hire app developers from the same country without any cultural or language barriers — but at much higher costs than the other two models.

Now that you know what factors affect project costs, let’s look at how you can measure the ROI of your investment.

How to Measure the ROI of Your Ecommerce Mobile App

To measure the return on investment (ROI) of an ecommerce mobile app, first calculate the total investment in the app’s development, tech stack, maintenance, and digital marketing. 

Then, track gains from the app such as increased sales revenue, customer acquisition costs, and customer lifetime value attributable to the app. 

Finally, compare these gains against the initial and ongoing investment to determine the app’s return on investment. 

ROI = (Gains from the app − Total Investment on the app)(Total Investment on the app) x 100

To boost your app’s profitability, consider optimizing development costs without sacrificing quality by nearshoring your ecommerce mobile app development through Distillery.

Build an Exceptional Ecommerce App with Distillery

Distillery, a leading nearshore software development firm, provides highly skilled professionals, including advanced engineering experts for all your software development needs.

We have talented developers, UX/UI designers, architects, and consultants who have deep experience and are skilled in a variety of platforms, cross-platform frameworks, and programming languages.

We offer an extensive network of thought leaders and SMEs who can conduct workshops and ideation sessions, adding immense value to your project.

Our commitment to excellence is demonstrated by:

  • Selecting top-tier technical talent with specialized abilities through a stringent vetting process.
  • Customizing our Service Delivery Approach (SDA) to meet your specific business needs.
  • Flexible team configurations tailored to the demands of your project.
  • Wide-ranging proficiency in fields like ecommerce mobile app development, web development, UIUX design, QA, and custom software development.
  • Maintaining consistent, clear communication to ensure seamless project progression.

We are regarded not merely as vendors, but as partners, fully integrated into our clients’ teams.

Connect with Distillery now to build your ecommerce app.