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How To Develop Mobile App For Retail Business

Maryna Cherednychenko - April 9, 2021 - 1 comment

The smartphone has become an integral part of our life. It undertakes daily tasks like paying bills, buying goods, or reading news – all through mobile apps. The latter ones turn into a valuable source of assistance because they do not tie the user to time and place but allow them to run any operations on the go. When it comes to online shopping, this is incredibly convenient because the user can order goods on the way to work or while resting in bed, and they do not need to open their laptop for this. 

According to Business Insider, income from m-commerce will grow at a significant rate during these years. It will almost triple in 2024 compared to 2019 going from $128,4 to $418,9 bn. Given the relevance of mobile shopping, many sellers are investing in retail apps to retain existing customers and attract new ones. This post will detail the topic and tell how to make a shopping app and what features to include in it.

Reasons To Make Retail App

The mobile app can push back the limits for your business and help increase income. Here is why you should consider retail app development:

Broader Audience

Even if you already have an eCommerce website, the mobile app will expand your brand’s presence and provide more shopping entry points. Given that a smartphone is a preferable device for tech-savvy Millennials and Gen Z, the retail app will help you reach these segments. By engaging more age groups from different regions, you grow your client base and boost income opportunities.

Raised Sales

Earlier, merchants considered m-commerce as an extra sales channel. But now, retail apps go almost toe to toe with the websites, thanks to their mature level and polished UX. As of Deloitte’s holiday retail survey, the use of phones to look for holiday gifts has increased by 11% compared to the previous years, while desktop and tablet – lined.

Brand Promotion

Mobile apps open ample opportunities for new loyalty programs. For example, you can introduce an in-app currency like Starbucks stars or Pinkberry points. Customers can then use this “money” in your offline and online stores. You can also offer cashback or discount on in-app purchases or reward users with free shipping.

Customer Insight

If you develop a custom CRM for your app, you can collect and analyze user behavior data. For example, you can track their purchase history, time spent in the app, cart abandonment rate, and so on. This data will help you build a successful marketing strategy for client capture and retention.

Unique Opportunities

In the mobile shopping app, you can implement unique features that grab customers’ attention even more. For example, you can use push notifications to alert users about promotions or discounts. Also, you can implement Beacon technology to wake up the app when a user walks past your offline store or a billboard.


Why develop retail app

Why develop retail app

Two Ways To Develop Mobile Retail App

To create an eCommerce app, you can use app builders that assemble apps from ready-made blocks or order custom development to deliver you a unique solution. Let’s consider each case in more detail.

App Builders

App builders are construction software that allows creating apps from predefined templates. App builders are great because they can make a working product in a short time with a minimum effort. However, their capabilities are pretty limited, so you will have to be content with the functionality they offer. Such off-the-shelf solutions seem more suitable for novice sellers or those who want to launch a pilot app version and see how it goes. Below is a pros/cons resume for your reference.


  • fast development (up to a few days)
  • no coding skills required
  • low price
  • no need to hire a dev team


  • restricted functionality
  • low customization opportunities
  • limited compatibility with external services (APIs, ERPs, CRMs, etc.)

Best for

  • quick start with MVP and basic features

Most popular app-building services

  • Appypie
  • Zoho Creator
  • iBuildApp

Custom Development

Custom development means building an app from scratch. It is a relatively long and expensive process, but in the end, you get a unique solution that fully meets your business’s needs. To make a custom eCommerce app, you need to hire an in-house dev team or outsource the development. The second option looks more practical because you do not need to spend time on recruitment, office equipment, or social package. All you have to do is sign a contract with a remote team and take minimum participation in the project work.


  • full set of necessary features
  • easy customization
  • quick integration with 3rd party tools
  • unique app


  • prolonged development (up to a few months)
  • high cost

Best for

  • launching a full-fledged app for a mature business


Two ways to make retail app

Two ways to make retail app

Ten Essential Features Of Retail App

Depending on the type of activity, you can choose specific functions and the app’s general look and feel. However, there are basic features that every mobile eCommerce app needs. Let’s review them in more detail.

1.Personal Profile

Although it goes first in the list of essential features, we recommend making it optional in the eCommerce app. The fact is that many potential clients get annoyed with registration yet feel OK completing purchase as a guest. Nevertheless, registered users should have clear benefits, such as:

  • keeping items in the shopping cart even if the app gets closed
  • providing personal birthday discounts (the user can specify the date of birth in the profile)
  • saving card and shipping details to use during next purchases

Also, you can encourage customers to create a profile by offering them social login option.


Filters are needed to sort goods according to specific parameters and quickly find the product of interest. Depending on what you sell, you can add filtering by color, size, brand, manufacturer, etc. The filters below will likely suit any business. They are:

  • price
  • categories
  • availability in offline stores (if you have several of them)

Also, don’t forget to implement a search bar to find a particular item immediately.

3.Product Catalog

It should conveniently sort the items and present the entire range of products in a user-friendly way. Usually, the catalog categories derive from the product specifics. For example, a clothing store might split items into dresses, T-shirts, jeans, etc. A pet shop would categorize products by cats, dogs, parrots, and other in-house animals. Modern retail apps often place the “hint” categories on the home screen. They aim to catch customers’ attention and push them to purchase. The most common examples are “New in,” “Sale,” and “Trending.”

4.Product Page

When a user clicks a product, they are taken to the description screen. It is vital to post high-quality photos and extensive information about the product here: material, season, size, compatibility, and so on. To dispel user doubts about the purchase, you can add advanced features based on smart algorithms. For example, apparel retailers might implement the “find my size” feature, and the furniture sellers may show how the table or sofa will fit into the existing interior. Apart from that, you can display related and similar goods to whet users appetite and increase the buying chances.

5.Shopping Cart

The purpose of the online application’s shopping cart is identical to that of an offline store’s. The user browsers products and adds goods to the basket. Next, they can delete them or add new ones. The digital version also brings advanced opportunities. It allows users to change the product’s size, color, increase or decrease the quantity, compare items. Besides, you can add the ability to split the order and send different packs to different addresses.


It allows users to monitor the available product price or learn about item arrival. The wishlist is convenient not only for buyers but also for sellers, as it promotes quick purchases and helps better understand clients’ interests. By increasing your customers’ insights, you can build a successful marketing strategy through relevant offers and discounts.

7.Card Payment

Online payments through credit cards are an absolute necessity for a retail app that keeps in step with the times. It helps make a quick payment by entering the card number, CVV code, and expiration date. The transaction takes no more than a few seconds. In the end, the user sees successful status and receives a receipt.

Online payment is implemented through a payment gateway. You can see how to add a payment gateway into an e-commerce store in this article and compare top providers here.


Geolocation enables customers to find the nearest store to pick up an order or view items in stock. If you work online only, geolocation will help users choose the nearby post office or parcel machine to arrange delivery. Remember, many people are concerned about privacy, so be sure to ask user’s permission to track their location.

9.Barcode Scanner

Barcode scanner adds value to UX allowing users to learn more about in-store products. This is how it works: the user places the phone in front of the product code, the app “reads” the code using the device camera, and displays a complete product description. After that, the user can add the product to the cart if they plan to buy it or the wishlist if they want to postpone the purchase.

10.Online Chat

As of the latest report, 79% of users prefer live chat because of fast and accurate responses. If you want to enhance UX, consider “hiring” both robots and human agents. Chatbots will provide 24/7 support, with instant answers coming in a matter of seconds. It will allow humans to undertake more complex issues and pay special attention to solving them.


Retail app features

Retail app features

What Does The Price Of Retail App Development Consist Of?

If you decide to develop a custom eCommerce app, you are probably concerned about the price. I want to clarify right away this post will not give any specific numbers. The reason is simple – the retail app is a broad concept that requires an individual approach in each particular case. The main factors that affect the price of mobile app development are as follows:

  • number and complexity of features
  • selected platforms (iOS, Android, web)
  • technologies in use (native, cross-platform)
  • infrastructure (on-premise, cloud)
  • design
  • testing
  • maintenance

The more complex and lengthy the project is, the more effort it needs to be invested. If you are at the beginning of this path with no online presence, start with the MVP. After it goes into production, assess the demand and profitability and fill it with more advanced features. To create a thorough development plan, hire a dedicated team to guide your project wisely from start to finish.

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1 comment

  1. sparity

    Great post. It seems to be interesting and gave me a lot of information, Thank you for sharing it. I am looking forward to new articles, Thanks for this post, a very nice article, and useful content …

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