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eCommerce Mobile App Development Cost - What You Need To Remember?

Oct 5, 20209 min read

Dawid Karczewski

Senior full stack developer and CTO at Ideamotive.

More and more people are accessing the Internet using mobile devices. According to ElasticPath's report, of the 60 million US-users who went online this summer, 21+ million used mobile devices for this purpose. The same report mentions one reason for this phenomenon: the availability of mobile internet versus wired Internet. 


In large cities, mobile Internet allows users to keep abreast of events and quickly find information regardless of their location.


Any self-respecting site has a mobile version. More and more companies and online retailers go further and develop not just mobile versions, but full-fledged applications, the functionality of which is expanded and goes beyond what a mobile device browser can offer.


In eCommerce, these effective solutions should combine an interesting set of features, without limiting consumers to one function - "add to cart," as well as provide the ability to complete a purchase in one click, while remaining interesting for the buyer, stimulating subsequent purchases.

What are the benefits of having an eCommerce mobile app?

Mobile app development is not cheap. But with a thoughtful professional approach, eCommerce mobile app development cost quickly pays off as long as it has significant advantages over even an adapted or responsive website. 


Let's take a closer look at the benefits of applications.

Smartphones = Convenience = More purchases


If you have ever tried to access the website of a store from your smartphone, you immediately noticed how inconvenient it is to use it—very small print, pages that do not fit the screen. Every now and then, you have to zoom in and move the page, getting lost with the necessary details. 


The mobile application is fully adapted to the size of the smartphone screen - this is the main advantage of the application for the client. Moreover, only a mobile device allows some application functions to work (for example, push notifications, calls, geolocation).

Marketing channel #1

More than 50% of Internet users use it via mobile devices. And if a person installs your application on their smartphone, it means that they are definitely interested in buying your goods. That is, having a mobile application, you work only with the target audience. Now your client always has access to your app. They can do a purchase whenever, and wherever they want.

Communication with the client 24/7

The application has constant access to the client. Personalized push notifications keep in touch with a potential customer. The main thing is the dosage. A large number of such messages are annoying, and a person may even delete the application due to its intrusiveness. It is important that notifications are really important and relevant.


Let’s see a real-life example of a good push notification from Tinder.


“A new person is giving you a chance! Probably not gonna work out, though.”

  • Is it the right time? Yes. This message comes when someone views your Tinder profile.
  • To you? Yes, and borders on rudeness. This is how Tinder flirts with users. It's hard not to go too far here, but Tinder's reputation allows the app to be somewhat caustic.
  • Does it give you a reason to act? Yes. Now it's a challenge to prove Tinder wrong. At the same time, the user may agree with the message, or maybe he doesn't care. One way or another, “a new person” is too vague a definition, so the user will go for more information.

Constant business control

Many mobile applications provide a variety of analytical functions. So you can track how the client uses the app. For instance, if the user checks out the pricing of some items, but doesn't buy them. Then the app might generate push notification to remind him of such items or even send personalized discounts. 


Honestly, even that is possible with tracking and targeted ads on the web, but it's quite easier on mobile. This feature can provide you with some amazing insights. 

User interaction

Applications allow you to establish personal contact with the client. These can be notifications about nearby offices or branches, about ongoing promotions and discounts, feedback channels, and even the creation of user groups to communicate with each other. A mobile app is an indispensable solution for fast, repetitive, and location-based actions.

Considering building a marketplace-type eCommerce platform? Here’s something you can rely on.

What features should you consider in 2020?

Make sure you gave all these points in your app:

  • VR / AR. Virtual and Augmented Reality. For example, customers of a jewelry store can try on jewelry using the front camera of a smartphone. Or clients of a company of any profile - point the camera at the brochure and see how the image moves and sings.
  • Chat for user communication. This is how a real community, a community of interests, can be formed.
  • Offline mode. (if your product requires some time to be thought out before buying. Let the app work without an internet connection, then the user will have time to analyze the goods wherever they want)
  • Synchronization between devices (another good point if your audience has two or more gadgets. This method is widely used by music streaming services. It is very convenient in case you listen to music from your phone and laptop.)
  • Real-time audio/video processing (a great way if your content includes video and audio files. This greatly simplifies the pain of choice and facilitates the time of loading)
  • Integration with third party services. (After your site is big enough, you’ll receive offers about cooperation with third party services. Leave some minutes to plan your future integration.)
  • Artificial intelligence technologies (for example, "smart tape").
  • Neural networks (for example, object recognition).
  • Blockchain (for example, its own payment service, electronic signature system, data management).
  • Additional data protection and encryption (scammers aren’t dreaming. Every day they discover new ways of stealing money from your users’ accounts. Make sure you protect clients with additional data encryption)


If we take this to a general formula, we get: n1 * x1 + n2 * x2 + n3 * x3 = y. 


Here n is the number of working hours, x is the cost of the specialist's work, y is the total amount. 


The number of terms depends on the required number of employees: this is influenced by the level of complexity of the application and the urgency. To make an application urgently, you will need to attract more people to the project.


On average, the eCommerce mobile app development cost ranges between $30,000 and $170,000.

MVP vs. simple app vs. semi-complex app vs. complex app


MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. The goal of MVP development is to quickly test the main hypothesis about the relevance of the application among the target audience. Instead of a long and expensive development of an application with a large set of functions and scripts, release an application that solves one user problem well. To be sure of its value.


Three main benefits of MVP development:

  • you will use less budget if the hypothesis was wrong;
  • you can get feedback from users and develop the product more accurately;
  • users will learn about the application several months earlier.


In almost all other cases, you can get by with a mobile version of the site.


Estimated cost: from $15k to $140k.

Estimated time: from 1 month to 12 months

Simple App

This application is a mobile version of the site, displayed through a WebView. The application displays an indication of loading pages. Navigation through the sections of the site is implemented using the navigation bar. When new publications appear on the site, push notifications are sent to the application. 


Application monetization is implemented using advertising banners of two types: standard banner and interstitial banners that are displayed periodically when navigating the navigation bar.


Estimated cost: from $20k to $150k.

Estimated time: from 2 months to 12 months

Semi-Complex App

The eCommerce mobile app architecture of this type is more complicated. Here we have features that will satisfy 98% of your customers.


By launching the semi-complex app you get:

  • A managed channel of communication with the client. For example, the user can choose to receive pop-up push notifications;
  • The ability to make purchases in one click;
  • Support customer service function 24/7.


Estimated cost: from $25k to $180k

Estimated time: from 3 months to 15 months

Complex App

The eCommerce mobile app design under the name of “complex” is everything we mentioned in the previous section (What features should you consider in 2020).


We recommend that you start building your product with a simple MVP, incorporating only the most necessary features into it. Find a suitable outsourcer and tell them the first version. Evaluate its quality and performance, work processes.


After that, you will not only have a working product, an understanding of how to develop it, but also some experience in process management that will help you in further development.


Estimated cost: from $35k to infinity

Estimated time: from 6 months to infinity


Stages of development (and how much does it cost?)

1. Conceptualization, wireframing

We are talking about an application for one platform, Android, or iOS. Development for two platforms will cost 30-40% more because each operating system needs a separate application: different programming languages ​​are hidden behind the visual similarity. 


And even fundamentally different design rules: in iOS and Android, navigation, parameters and units of measurement, fonts, names of elements, the use of shadows (in one system they are not, but in another, they are recommended), the search is different and much more. There are cross-platform solutions, but they have their drawbacks.


Cross-platform solutions attract with their versatility and low price. But they have their limitations:

  • such applications run more slowly;
  • the design may differ from the usual: if it is developed to a greater extent according to iOS standards, it will be inconvenient for Android users, and vice versa. Unless cross-platform technology uses native system controls like React Native does.


Android opens up access to a wider range of users, iOS - to better off and ready to pay. 


Development and testing of an Android application will take longer because smartphones with such an operating system are more diverse.


Estimated cost: from $20k to $150k.

Estimated time: from 2 months to 12 months

2. Design (UI and UX)

Design is about understanding the essence of your product, its functionality, and also about designing useful products for people. Design can describe an entire application.


UI and UX aren't just about how something looks and feels. It is how it works. Application design is a blueprint or specification for building an object or system, or for carrying out an activity or process. It is no secret that design does not only work in graphic editors or design tools. It's also a designer's lifetime.


It is necessary to outline in advance all the functions that you would like to see in your application, and then carefully study the list and cross out everything without which it will work for your purpose.


Estimated cost: from $15k to $140k.

Estimated time: from 1 month to 12 months

3. Development, Testing

Many customers often underestimate the importance of testing and do not realize that, depending on the project, it can take a long time. Even if you are developing a native application for only one operating system, you will need to test how it looks and works on different types of devices.


If you need to make versions for two operating systems at once, it will cost even more. And you have to accept that the best user experience can only be provided on a limited number of the most popular devices. For the rest, you will have to be content with just good UX, without striving for perfection.


Estimated cost: from $35k to infinity

Estimated time: from 6 months to infinity

4. Launch

To launch an application on Google Play, you need a developer account. It costs $25. You need any computer. Unlike iOS, creating and distributing Android apps and games doesn't require any specific software or platform. 


You can do this from macOS, Windows, or any other operating system. In fact, you can easily do even without Android Studio, the "official" IDE for development (Android Studio is an integrated development environment (IDE) for working with the Android platform).


Now let's talk about publishing applications on IOS. Publishing apps to the App Store is the most exciting process in a developer's life. Now let's figure out what is needed for this. Again, you will need an Apple developer account for $ 99 per year. Also, you should also have a finished application in Xcode. You also need a macOS computer.


The launch of completed app is pretty easy for eCommerce ones. There might be some things to improve if Apple or Google require you to, but generally, it takes 1 to 4 weeks, including waiting for Apple and Google reviews.


Estimated cost: from $25k to $180k

Estimated time: from 1 to 4 weeks

5. Maintenance, post-launch development

The work on the mobile application does not end after its release. Some major operating system updates may also require application changes to ensure a high level of compatibility. This is true for both Android and iOS.


You must monitor the uninterrupted operation of servers and respond to possible problems to ensure a smooth experience for end-users with the product.


Thus, the cost of maintenance can turn into a really expensive part of the project, which is nevertheless necessary for its normal functioning.


Estimated cost: from $20k to $150k.

What additional costs do you need to take into account?

Every live application requires constant updates and incurs significant maintenance costs. However, companies remain in awe of their ignorance of the matter. Here we present you with a list of the hidden costs of successful eCommerce mobile app development features. 

Infrastructure components

If you are building an application that receives or gives back certain information from the user, that data must be stored somewhere. And if the amount of data is large, it is necessary to take care of the issue of synchronization in advance and estimate the volume of requests for storing and processing information.


Ecommerce mobile app testing is one of the key components of the software development life cycle and should be initially included in the project budget. Improving the quality of the final product ultimately provides a sufficient return on investment.


You need to understand how you will attract users and how much it will cost. And it is worth deciding on this even before the launch. Expecting that your product will start to attract attention and will be popular on its own is too naive these days.


The most important way to attract organic traffic from an app store is ASO optimization, which includes working with a text description, title, and visual elements. It is based on a set of keywords by which your application can be searched by the target audience.

Service cost

  • The work on the mobile application does not end after its release. The more complex the project is, the more costs will be required for its maintenance, including:
  • version updates, 
  • bug fixes, 
  • implementation of new or revision of existing functionality, 
  • fixing security problems, etc.


Much has been said about the fact that the mobile Internet provides businesses with unique marketing opportunities. 


So, if you are looking for experts to build your eCommerce mobile app - don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We will provide you with development evaluation and provide you with a top mobile team matched with your technology, industry and company culture.


Therefore, there is a surge in activity on the market - companies are striving to develop mobile versions of their sites. There cannot be a better solution - it is enough to have your own website, convenient for viewing through a mobile device, in order to gain a foothold in a new popular segment. It would be more convenient for the company and its users.

Dawid Karczewski

Dawid is a full stack developer experienced in creating Ruby on Rails and React Native apps from naught to implementation. Technological superhero, delivering amazing solutions for our clients and helping them grow.

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