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The Ultimate Guide to E-Commerce Mobile App Development

Mobile e-commerce is exploding.

Game-changing platforms are disrupting antiquated industries, such as Uber and AirBnB. Mobile shopping is on the rise, with new options such as InstaCart and JackThreads. Retail juggernauts have already made the jump to mobile and are seeing lucrative profits. Games like Clash of Clans and Trivia Crack have hooked millions of users.

These platforms have been successful and raked in heaps of cash thanks to mobile commerce. Our generation is now comfortable not only paying online, but with mobile as well. Today’s faster technology and smoother interfaces have eliminated the e-commerce friction.

The Ascension of Mobile Commerce

The percentage of retail traffic, mobile versus desktop, 2011-2014, ending in August 2014 (link)Ascension of Mobile Commerce

The most eye opening proof is that consumers now spend more time with online retail on mobile devices than desktop and laptop PCs. Further, global mobile internet users have surpassed desktop internet users, this year.

Here’s The Ultimate Guide to E-Commerce Mobile App Development. Below are all the building blocks needed to plan and develop your mobile e-commerce technology. Starting with the concepts, market insights, payment technology, analytics, and more.

If you’re just getting started, read up on the concepts below and explore the resources. If you’re already familiar, then review these options and choose the right solution for your business.

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is an interface or outlet to your payment system. A digital gateway can be the screens and buttons of an online shopping cart that accepts input payment information. An analog gateway is a physical credit card reader.

A payment gateway is important because it provides a secure path from the customer to your payment system. It does this by encrypting the data and handling the connection to the payment processor. Without a gateway, your credit card numbers and banking information would be at risk. Or you would need to build your own security systems (which is a lot of work). We all saw how many times Sony has been hacked — protect your data!

A payment gateway can be an embeddable form or secure SDK that a framework lets you drop into your application. For example, the Pay with PayPal button, or your checkout flow pages on your website. Those elements are the gateway that secure and transmit payment data to the payment processor.

Payment Gateway

What is a payment processor?

The payment processor is the part of the payment system that executes that actual transaction. The processor sends an authorization request to the issuing entity (customer’s bank or credit card) with the transaction details. It then receives an authorization response whether the transaction was approved or denied. If approved, the funds are later transferred when the day’s batch of transactions clear.

Payment Processor

What is a payment marketplace?

A payment marketplace is a platform for connecting buyers to multiple sellers. Amazon is a good example, where some products are sold by Amazon, but many products are also sold by other businesses and independent sellers.

A payment marketplace enables sellers to place their products on a platform alongside other vendors. Here a customer can buy from multiple sellers, and the funds are then split and transferred. Usually the marketplace itself will take a cut of the transaction.

Uber and AirBnB are other good examples. Uber has many drivers (sellers) on their platform, who each need to be paid separately by riders (buyers). AirBnB lists properties of many hosts (sellers) to the guests (buyers).

Payment Marketplace

Top Mobile App E-Commerce Blogs

Top E-Commerce Mobile Apps

Source: App Annie,

Mobile Payment Processing Frameworks

Mobile Payment Processing Frameworks

If you’re developing a custom mobile ecommerce app, you’ll need to integrate one of these frameworks to enable in-app payments. Using these, your app can capture and store payment information, and then process transactions.

The value in these frameworks is their security, customer support, financial reports, and executing of the actual transaction. To get started, you’ll register for an account and configure your banking information. Stripe and Braintree Payments below seem to be the current leaders.

“Our generation is now comfortable not only paying online, but with mobile as well. Today’s faster technology and smoother interfaces have eliminated the e-commerce friction.”

 Standalone Mobile Point of Sale Solutions

Standalone Mobile Point of Sale Solutions If you currently have a cash register, then a standalone mobile payment processor is likely the best solution for you. For brick and mortar locations, or physical vendors, these platforms offer the necessary tools.

These options below provide out-of-the-box mobile apps. They include for point of sale, credit card readers, inventory management, and more. The platforms allow some customization of the colors, products, and receipts to your store and brand. Square is the leader here.

Analytics for Mobile App E-Commerce

Analytics for Mobile App E-CommerceThe web has obsessed over sales funnels and it’s just as important to track and optimize on mobile. Your app will have some sort of checkout flow, and it’s important to understand how users are navigating your app. They’ll help identify any hurdles that are hindering your audience from buying.

Those already using Google Analytics on web will likely want to choose Google Mobile Analytics. Then you can see a full profile of your business from one dashboard. Flurry and MixPanel are two other very good and well adopted solutions.

App Store Optimization

App Store OptimizationThe App Store is still the wild west of search. Organic discovery and search is difficult if you’re not on a Featured or Top List chart from the App Store or Google Play. These tools will give you insight into how your app is ranking on the stores. They reveal keyword popularity and competitor analysis. Then you can tailor the correct titles, descriptions, and keywords for your app. App Annie also publishes lots of insightful market data and periodic industry trend reports.

“The most eye opening proof is that consumers now spend more time with online retail on mobile devices than desktop and laptop PCs. Further, global mobile internet users have surpassed desktop internet users, this year.”

 More Tools

Now go make some money…

Mobile e-commerce offers huge potential to scale your business. With the right product, technology, and audience, a mobile solution is incredibly valuable. And as you’ve seen by the research, is almost mandatory to connect with shoppers today.

We advise our clients to begin by creating their mobile strategy and direction. We facilitate research of the competition and industry leaders to map out how our solution will fit into the big picture of the current market and their business. Then, agile development is an iterative process of planning, building, and testing. Once launched, it’s important to constantly monitor the analytics for feedback and insights.

These resources are a strong starting point and reference for developing your solution. Be sure to share these with your team to pick the best options for your business.

Let’s Make Your Idea Reality

We deliver value to partners through mobile strategy expertise, user-centered design, and lean methodology. Take a look around our work portfolio and drop us a line, we’d love to chat.