How to Build a User-Friendly Shopping App?

Published: January 24, 2017

16 min read

Last updated: May 2, 2022

The eCommerce industry is rapidly growing and you don’t want to stay behind, do you? After all, Shopping App development isn’t that much about creating a Mobile Product - it’s about creating a great Buyer Journey for your customers on their iOS and Android smartphones. Which leads to what? Correct. It will rock your sales.

Just to make sure we’re on the same page, here are a few notable figures from Statista:

  • By 2021, retail eCommerce sales worldwide are expected to amount to 4.8 trillion US dollars, hitting 365% increase since 2014.
  • Accordingly, the eCommerce share of total global retail sales is going to rise from 7.4% in 2015 to 17.5% in 2021.
  • The number of digital buyers worldwide will also rise by about 162%: from 1.32 billion people in 2014 to 2.14 billion in 2021.
Retail e-commerce sales worldwide from 2014 to 2021 (in billion U.S. dollars)

Retail e-commerce sales worldwide from 2014 to 2021 (in billion U.S. dollars)

Remember those days, when it was enough to just have a website? Bad news - they’re gone. With every coming year, people spend less time in front of their computers and more - with smartphones in their hands. Here a few more stats which prove that the idea to develop a Shopping Application for Android and iOS is a good one:

  • Retail apps accounted for 44% of eCommerce transactions (desktop and mobile websites for 33% and 23% accordingly).
  • Apps recorded a 21% buyer conversion rate, while mobile web managed to reach only 6%.
  • The lowest cart abandonment rate (20%) was also noticed in mobile applications. Desktop (68%) and mobile sites (90%) had considerably worse results.

But I guess, you already know that and it’s exactly why you’re reading this to develop a Shopping App now. What are the technical ways to do this? Let’s try to find the best one for your case together!

👍 3 Main Shopping App Development Approaches

I bet the next thought you had right after deciding to make a Shopping App was “What is the most cost-efficient way to do this?”. That’s the moment when it’s important to make the right shot from the first try. And the possible options in this case are:

  • App Builders.
  • Native app development.
  • React Native app development.

Let’s see the ups and downs of each option!

App Builders

You’ve probably stumbled upon Shopify-like builders while looking for ways to develop a shopping app. Funny thing is that they all promise the same: you can build an application having no coding experience, just by “dragging & dropping” the needed sections. It’s rather fast, cheap and really doesn’t involve any special knowledge. Sounds like a magic bullet, right?

What they don’t promise you is high conversion rates and low cart abandonment rates, effective retargeting tools and custom UI solutions, which match exactly your brand & audience, and which improve the overall Customer Experience and LTV - in other words, things that really matter to your business.

App builders allow you to create an app without coding but don't expect a high performance and UX

App builders allow you to create an app without coding but don't expect a high performance and UX (image by Virgil Pana)

Think about such an example: you visit 2 different restaurants. One represents a big restaurant chain, like McDonald's and the other one - a family-owned restaurant, where the owners welcome their loyal customers during each visit. Which dish will you choose in the first restaurant? Is it special or exactly the same as all your neighbors have, actually “template”-based? Where will the level of service be higher? Which of those 2 will you remember and recommend to your friends?

I guess, now you got the idea. Is it worth it? It’s up to you to decide. You will be able to save some money and time but in the long run, such a templated application will lose to any custom-built shopping app of your competitors, your customers will feel it.

Native App Development

The native approach is the “classic” way to develop a Shopping Application for Android or iOS. It requires hiring experienced native mobile developers who can build a great mobile product from scratch. The most cost-efficient and fast way to do this, if you don’t have an in-house development team - is outsourcing.

Native app development allows you to build tailor-made mobile applications, which match exactly your branding, marketing strategy, customer portrait and Buyer Journey of your specific business. They aren’t limited to a few templated options and require more time and resources than app builders.

You can reach a great UX with the Native Shopping App development, however, it will cost you a pretty penny

You can reach a great UX with the Native Shopping App development, however, it will cost you a pretty penny (image by Alex Kunchevsky)

What is bad about Native Shopping App development is that you will have to hire 2 separate teams to build applications for different platforms, and you’ll need 2 engineers to maintain it. It significantly increases the cost to build a mobile Shopping App for iOS and Android.

React Native App Development

Finally, you can choose React Native as the main development approach for your app. React Native, which is also known as Facebook’s rising star, is a framework that lets you create a mobile app for online shopping on iOS and Android at the same time, without any harm to the UX - because it’s developed using JavaScript in a Cross-Platform manner, but under the hood it’s still a Native App.

To put it simple and short, here are the benefits that you can get after deciding to build your app with this technology:

React Native Advantages

  1. React Native developers use JavaScript to write a single codebase for both platforms. By reusing up to 80% of this code and applying small platform adjustments, you can develop a shopping application for Android and iOS at the same time.
  2. Therefore, you don’t need to hire 2 separate teams - one experienced React Native dev squad can create and release apps for both iOS and Android.
  3. Due to the reasons above, React Native shopping app development will cost you less money and time than a native solution.
  4. Together with reaching your customers faster and at a more reasonable price, you will get a top-notch quality product that has as high performance as native applications. For instance, Instagram, UberEats, Airbnb and [many other]({ rel="nofollow" .default-md} famous apps are built using React Native.

By the way, we at Stormotion got React Native development down to a fine art. If you want our help to develop a shopping app for your business, shoot us a message by hitting the button under this article!

No matter which approach you’ll choose, it won’t change the list of key features that your customers expect to see. What are they? Let’s brainstorm it together!

📱 How to Make a Shopping App: Key Features

A good eCommerce application kills two birds with one stone:

  • On the one hand, it creates new opportunities for your business, allows you to retarget customer and establish a new channel to sell your goods.
  • On the other hand, it should become a convenient shopping tool for your existing customers, that helps them to order your goods even faster and easier from their phone/tablet.

To ensure that your Product works both ways, we recommend the following structure for your application!

Product Screen 🛍

Users will be mainly visiting your application for one reason - because it’s the most convenient way for them to interact with your business and goods. Therefore, bring what you offer upfront and don’t create any barriers.

Your product screen must encourage users to buy your goods

Your product screen must encourage users to buy your goods (image by Christian Vizcarra)

How to provide the best experience to your customers on this screen? Make sure it meets the following recommendations:

  1. Make sure this screen has a clear structure: items are categorized, products on sale and suggested goods are visible and reachable without difficulty.
  2. Forget about days when people were ready to buy a pig in a poke. Every product should have a description and at least 1 photo. To reach even better UX, create a Shopping App with HD images.
  3. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Apply standard navigation patterns, like the TabBar (recommended) or the Hamburger-Menu. Thus, users will feel familiar with your app since their first use, which increases the chances of closed deals. And never ever make a mix of those patterns.

Search, Filtering & Sorting 🔍

Customers rarely open a shopping app without a particular product in their mind, which they want to buy. That’s why you can hardly make a shopping app without Searching, Filtering and Sorting features.

These are the standard tools that will help your customers to narrow down the list of your products and find the ones that they are ready to buy.

Create filtering options which are specific to your business. Are you selling shoes? Great - your client could search for “Boots”, “Sneakers”, “Business Shoes” etc. Next, give him the option to select among “Leather”, “Synthetic” etc. Picked one? Cool - give him the option to filter out his specific shoe size. Got the idea?

Make sure your users can narrow down the results to find what they've been looking for

Make sure your users can narrow down the results to find what they've been looking for (image by HanF)

If you will have such interactive filtering options and not only generic stuff, your client will see, that you are professionals at what you’re selling. This is a big plus to your brand and could make your client your ambassador.

For even better UX, you may use Machine Learning in your app. There are actually two functions it can improve:

  • Product search - the machine learning algorithms can analyze a user’s previous search requests and re-order the results to make them more relevant for this particular user.
  • Suggestions - the algorithms can suggest a similar product or accessories to the one you were searching for.

This technology makes the life of the users easier and can bring you more revenue!

Checkout 🛒

According to over 40 studies, the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.89%. For some retailers who want to create a Shopping App, this number seems like a disaster - 7 out of 10 customers leave the website or application without finishing their purchase.

Why? The following stats give quite a clear picture of the reasons for abandonment during checkout:


And this is the best possible answer to the question “how to make a shopping app with low abandonment rates?”. Create a Checkout Screen that successfully copes with the problems mentioned above.

Here are a few tips from Stormotion Team on how to manage top 4 positions from this list:

  • Extra costs too high: to minimize the possible negative outcome, we recommend to clearly show the final price with all additional costs included (it’s also good to specify which ones exactly).
  • Mandatory registration: as you see, it does more harm than good. Therefore, we recommend not to ask your users to sign up before they can finish the order. If they truly enjoy your products, they’ll do it on their own!
  • The long/complicated checkout process: a perfect buyer journey takes no more than 4 steps. Step 1, users add the desired products to the cart. Step 2, customers move from the Cart Screen to the Checkout Screen. Step 3, users are asked to fill in the shipping information. Step 4, customers proceed to the payment gateway. Therefore, make a shopping app in which the checkout process is no longer.
  • Couldn’t see the order total order cost up-front: that’s something we’ve already discussed in the first tip - show the total sum starting from the Cart Screen and further.

Payment Gateway 💳

To create a shopping app with a user-friendly Payment Gateway, you have to make sure that it meets users’ requirements and expectations in the following fields:

  1. Provides your customers with as many payment methods as possible: credit cards, PayPal, Android Pay & Apple Pay etc.
  2. Ensures maximum security when it comes to payments and customers’ personal data.
  3. If you have a Web-App for your eCommerce business, keep the payment processors consistent with your Mobile App. And always make sure, the price in the Web and Mobile apps are the same.
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use a payment processor, which your clients are used to: Stripe, Braintree or whatever is relevant for your country.
  5. Make it very very simple for your users to put in the payment data.

If you meet those - customers will be quite happy with your Payment Screen.

Choose only proven payment gateways for your application

Choose only proven payment gateways for your application (image by satoko miyajima)

Registration 🔐

Registration, if not mandatory, can provide many benefits for your business and customers at the same time.

  • For your company, it’s a great opportunity to get a user’s email address and establish a more close, personal relationship with him.
  • On the other hand, your customers will get a personalized experience (for example, special offers) and quick access to saved data even if they change their device. You can also benefit by running loyalty campaigns which are strongly tied to users’ personal profiles.
Make your Sign Up Process fast & simple

Make your Sign Up Process fast & simple (image by Taè Prasongpongchai)

The main rule here is that you should never ask your client to create a profile in your application before he reaches the checkout stage (when you’re really need some personal data for shipping and charging the payment). Otherwise, modern users will leave your app right away.

An option of buying as a guest may encourage some users to finish the order.

How to make the registration process as user-friendly as possible? Implement a Social Login feature! It allows them to create account in your application by reusing personal data from their social media accounts. Fast and easy - just what your audience is looking for!

Push Notifications 🔔

Push Notifications is another obvious reason to create a mobile app for online shopping on iOS and Android. Why? Because websites, even mobile ones, just can’t do it!

At the same time, Push Notifications are a powerful tool to communicate with your customers and retarget them. For example, by informing users about current sales and special offers, you can keep users interested in using your application.

But the true king here is retargeting. It’s used to reach specific groups of users with highly customized messages: for example, to inform customers about special offers regarding the goods they often buy or remind those who abandoned their carts to finish the order.

The following stats by invesp prove their effectiveness:

  • Sending Push Notifications can increase retention rates by 3-10 times.
  • 48% of users made an in-store purchase after receiving a Push Notification triggered by profile data.
  • With just 1 onboarding-related notification to newly acquired users, it’s possible to increase retention rates by 71% over 2 months.

Analytics 📊

Finally, don’t forget to integrate analytical tools as you make a shopping app. This is quite a helpful feature that will help you understand whether you’re moving in the right direction and what sides of your business can be improved.

🛠 Tech Tips: What Tools Will Help You to Develop a Shopping Application for Android and iOS

When it comes to the development itself, the right tools can help you cut the shopping app development cost and ensure that your application works smoothly, and provide your customers with an outstanding experience. Here are some technologies that will help you to build an MVP for the shopping application:

  • You probably remember our recommendation about payment gateways: develop a shopping app with at least a few options to choose from. For this purpose, use Android Pay API, Apple Pay API, API by PayPal, Braintree SDK or Stripe API.
  • When it comes to Push Notifications, there are a bunch of options. Our personal winner is Firebase Cloud Messaging. However, OneSignal, Accengage, Amazon SNS and Urban Airship are also good solutions to consider.
  • Facebook Mobile SDKs is a traditional tool that can be used to implement a fast social login process and provide you with access to analytical tools.
  • Voucherify API is your friend if you want to manage your coupons and campaigns, track custom events etc.
  • We recommend building the app using React Native. This will allow building a cost-effective cross-platform app with native UX.

Read Also

React Native vs Native (iOS/Android) App Development

🗂 Case Study: Shopbop, MANGO, Nike, Forever 21, Sephora

There’s nothing bad in learning from the best ones. Here are a few shopping apps with noticeable functionality.

Shopbop 👗

Shopbop is a global online retail application that offers women’s clothing and accessories worldwide. The app doesn’t surprise with any unexpected features - it’s just perfect in its minimalism.

The Shopbop app

The Shopbop app

What we can learn from the shots above?

  • Bright HD photos really matter to your business and sales. They draw attention and allow your customers to better explore your products.
  • Instead of just selling goods, Shopbop provides additional content for its users - for example, stories, style tips and trend updates (screen 2).
  • Detailed product pages make shopping simpler!


This is another example of a good clothes shopping application. Just like the Shopbop app, MANGO sticks to the minimalist design: black and white colour scheme, big attention to an appropriate spacing, a minimal number of visual elements.

However, the reason why we’ve included this app on our list is that it illustrates how you can connect your mobile product to offline stores.

The MANGO app

The MANGO app

  • You can not only directly sell your goods through the application but also use it to increase an on foot traffic of your online stores. How? For example, by marking their locations on the in-app map or showing where your users can take their purchases made via the application.
  • It’s also possible to improve the in-store Customer Experience. A barcode scanner will allow your clients to scan garments’ barcodes and open those products in the app.

Sephora 💅

We couldn’t help but include the Sephora app on our list. Why? Because it’s one of the brightest examples of how you can create a mobile app for online shopping on iOS or Android and benefit by using latest technologies.

The Sephora app

The Sephora app

The application has a “standard” set of features that you can find in many great shopping apps. For example, Sephora’s stories and product announcements or the “best selling” screen to encourage customers to make a purchase.

However, the most noticeable feature here is shown on the first screen - a virtual try-on experience. What does it mean? This feature allows users to try Sephora’s cosmetics using their smartphone camera and AR technologies - thus, they’re able to check whether this or that product really suits them.

Nike 👟

Nike is well-known for its outstanding mobile applications. Along with Training and Run Club, the company also has a retail application that we like and believe to be a great example of how to make a shopping app. Just take a look!

The Nike app

The Nike app

What’s great about it? Let’s figure out:

  • The Nike application pays much attention to the visual side. This is just another confirmation of how important bright HD images may be to your business.
  • The first screen is dedicated to the Discover section. This is the right place to share some style tips (especially regarding Nike clothes), brand news or new product announcements. Stories may be also used to establish better relations with your customers.
  • It’s even better if your app offers some additional value to users. In the Nike app, you can not only buy things but also get early member access to events, new products and other unique membership awards.

Forever 21 👕

Finally, let’s take a look at the Forever 21 app. It also has some noticeable functionality, especially regarding searching & filtering.

The Forever 21 app

The Forever 21 app

First of all, you can see how guys improved the searching feature. Voice commands are a trend now so why not to use it in your application. It not only adds some extra points to the overall UX and Customer Experience but also shows that the company doesn’t hesitate to use the best technologies.

Also, pay attention to the “Style Finder” feature. It improves the basic sorting and filtering functionality by adding some specific categories - like colour, sleeves, long, neck and so on. It does not only look quite unique (we haven’t seen it in other shopping apps) but increases the chances that customers will find what they’ve been looking for and finish their journey in the app with a purchase!

💡 Conclusion

These were Stormotion Team’s insights on how to make a shopping app for your business. Now, as you have a clear picture of what benefits you can get and what the structure of your application should be, your key task is to find a skillful team who can build an efficient development process and get things done!

Read Also

How to Select an Agency for Your App Development?

Any questions left? Drop us a line and we’ll help to figure it out! We can also help you if you’re looking for an experienced Tech Partner to create a mobile app for online shopping on iOS and Android. Let’s skyrocket your business together!

Build Your Shopping App With Us!

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