How to Open a New Mobile Shop Site for Your E-commerce Business
When it comes to online e-commerce success, how to open a new mobile shop is a question you will need to ask yourself sooner rather than later. Whether you’re just starting out or already have a well-functioning enterprise, the latest retail statistics dictate that more consumers are turning to mobile devices for buying than ever before. Approximately 64% of Americans take to their smartphones to either browse a store’s wares, or shop via a dedicated app, and this number is on the rise.
Unsurprisingly, these trends correlate with an increasingly digital society that has evolved to become mobile first. With Millennials bringing up their children on touch screen devices, it’s easy to envision a future where any task can be performed on the move and where immediate connectivity takes precedence. The future is mobile and so is e-commerce.
According to Statista, there are 2.71 billion smartphone users in the world today, around 35.13% of the global population. Add to the fact that most e-commerce businesses are able to offer worldwide shipping, the momentous opportunity to expand your online store to a customized, mobile site shouldn’t be dismissed. By 2021, mobile e-commerce sales are expected to account for 54% of total e-commerce sales — can you afford to miss out?
Mobile-optimized websites are sometimes not enough
The truth is, many store websites are not up to scratch. Even ones that are supposedly optimized for mobile viewing can fall short of the mark in terms of usability. Adaptability for a range of devices and screen sizes is a challenge, which best saved for the technical prowess of professionals.
Today, consumers are looking for a quick and enjoyable shopping experience where they can easily browse, save interesting items and purchase without a second thought. If met with a display that doesn’t meet these expectations, they’ll soon be seduced by the next best thing and won’t recommend a store with poor mobile design.
As a new business, the answer is simpler: go mobile, now. Older stores will have to level up to align with the preferences of a new demographic in order to not fall behind. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that physical stores questioned the usefulness of websites, now considered absolute essentials. Times change and the future belongs to those who can anticipate and adapt to those changes (in time!). Not having a mobile app in the mobile era will leave your business in the digital dark ages, much like those that ignored the dot-com boom decades ago.
How to open a new mobile shop app
One of the first things you need to decide before expanding to mobile is which app-building option suits your business best. Of course, there’ll be other factors to consider, such as budget and the type of features you want to include, but for now, let’s take a look at the three most common choices for high-performance app building:
If you’re not at a stage where you can afford a native app just yet, then at least updating your website to a responsive web design will help you get a foot in the door with mobile. As one of the least expensive options and most widely used, implementing responsive design to your store will enable screen adaptability as well as better functionality of web pages on various devices. Ideal for smaller e-commerce stores, popular apps like Magento and WooCommerce support responsive design, with thousands of themes to choose from. Later on, as your store scales, you can incorporate goals to create a native app.
While no one said it would be cheap, surveys suggest that the price range for developing an enterprise mobile app is most often between $100,000 to $500,000. If your e-commerce store can handle the investment, or you happen to be best friends with a few great mobile developers that have a vested interest in your business, then building a native mobile app is the way to go. Native apps offer the best performance, user experience and access to a whole host of features that can be added to in the future. The only drawback is that they can be expensive to maintain.
Progressive web applications
Important factors to consider before you begin
As every business owner knows, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Before jumping ahead and getting into talks with developers, make sure sure you’ve thoroughly researched all the variables that will affect the budget, business, and brand. Here we outline just some of the factors you’ll need to consider:
Conducting thorough research and discovering where your business fits into the scope of mobile e-commerce is essential before you begin. The first step is to define your business’ maturity stage, growing or established, and align your digital goals with the demand of existing customers. With this information, you can estimate the short and long term investment of your mobile app development and eliminate unnecessary expenditures on “nice to have,” such as an upmarket aesthetic or feature.
Going Android or iOS
If money is no object (lucky you!) or your e-commerce business is well established and profitable, the most ideal solution would be to build a mobile app on both Android or iOS platforms. A smarter approach, however, especially for smaller stores is to focus on just one, to begin with, in order to collect sufficient market research and audience analysis. While Android has more users, iOS is more popular in the US and generally considered to be more secure.
Great UI and UX
Creating the right User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) is one of the most important factors of your mobile app’s success. A visually pleasing and intuitively-designed store with the right colors and illustrations will strengthen your store’s branding and help identify target customers.
Back end management
Every new mobile shop needs an app back end to manage large volumes of data processes, upgrades, and other management tasks. Based on your store’s business requirements, you’ll need to consult your app developer on integrating a back end management system to handle content management, speed, and usability.
While this may be taken as a given, it’s important to mention competitor analysis as a way to ensure you’ll be implementing and improving on existing standards. Reiterate features that have worked best for your competitors and learn from customer feedback in-app reviews to avoid similar pitfalls.
Essential features to meet consumer expectations
Once you’ve established what resources your business can afford to expend, the next step is to figure out what features are essential to maintaining app functionality. With consumers now expecting only the most sophisticated experiences when shopping on their cell phones, there’s no room for error. If you skimp on what’s essential to your customer, they’ll quickly lose interest and find a better alternative. Here are some of the most basic features every mobile shop should have:
Search and filter: Any customer will be hard-pressed to stick around on an app without being able to filter items and find what they’re looking for quickly. Users should be able to sort by price, size, color, and other variables.
Shopping cart/basket and wish list: It’s unlikely that anyone would build a mobile shop without a cart, but what many don’t realize is that its features can be strengthened in a number of ways. Easy adding/removal of items is a must, as well as visibility for entry of discount codes. Incorporating seamless movement between a wish list and the cart retains shoppers to your site and reduces the friction of having to shuffle between various functions.
Save checkout details and payment options: Enabling customers to save their details on your app is critical if you’re committed to a hassle-free experience. Having comprehensive payment options with a good mixture of local and international payment gateways will ensure you don’t miss out on potential sales.
Order tracking: Once an order is placed, it becomes your responsibility to keep the customer informed of delivery progress. Integrating an order tracking system will communicate the right messages at the right time while ensuring your customer feels happy about the entire sales process. It’ll also reduce inquiry traffic to your customer service team.
Security and GDPR compliance: Security is important for everyone transacting online, however, if your business extends to EU countries you’ll also want to make sure you are adhering to GDPR-compliant privacy policies and procedures. Implementing robust security and code reviews at regular intervals will help to keep your customer’s sensitive details protected.
Social media buttons: Allow customers to share their exciting purchases via social media channels like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and other popular sites. As well as free marketing, you can also include various incentives and games to fuel engagement.
Customer reviews: Some underperforming e-commerce stores forgo public customer reviews, however, they can actually be a valuable conversion tool, as well as an opportunity to fix underlying issues. Customers also feel empowered by reading product/company reviews and are more likely to shop with a brand that has established good communication with their buyers.
Keeping an eye on future trends
Staying on top of the latest trends and maintaining market agility will give you a competitive edge in mobile e-commerce, especially if you’re the first to implement stunning new features. From augmented reality to ordering food directly from refrigerators, the future of e-commerce is unlimited. Here are just some of the pioneering innovations shaping the industry right now:
Geo-fencing: Tracking a user’s location to the minute and within a 2-mile radius and automatically switching an app to “in-store” mode, offering the customer special deals or showing where to find particular items.
Direct image and voice-based search: Using voice-based assistants like Siri and Alexa, customers can make orders with their voices only — provided mobile apps are compatible. Image-based searches will also benefit the penetration of new markets where language barriers are present.
Internet of Things (IoT): Otherwise known as all internet-connected devices, or “things”, like smart refrigerators, televisions, cars, watches and more, the possibility to order products through these devices will present a new point-of-sale for many businesses.
Recommendation engines: AI-powered recommendation engines are already in use in the streaming industry, learning a user’s preference to curate a personalized content selection. The same will apply to e-commerce, with personal recommendations based on a customer’s taste via search history, viewed ads, and social media interests.
Augmented Reality (AR): For some shoppers, being able to ‘try on’ items of clothing is the difference between buying online or in-store. With AR, customers will be able to check the fit and look of an item from the comfort of their own home before committing to a purchase.
Your mobile shop journey starts now
Now that you have some idea of how to open up a new mobile shop for your e-commerce business, hopefully, you’re all set to get the ball rolling and tap into a market that has endless possibilities. Expanding to mobile will provide your customers with a fun and simple user experience that’ll strengthen your brand while boosting revenues and driving sales in the most unimaginable ways. Jump on board now, and take full advantage of e-commerce's promising new future.