eCommerce App vs. Website: Which One Is Better and How to Build Them

The world of eCommerce is vast and it’s expanding every day. Not too long ago, all an eCommerce business needed to succeed was a well-built website, but that has changed in recent years. More and more eCommerce stores are developing their own apps to accompany their websites.

For many, that poses one question:

Which option is better and how to make the choice between an eCommerce app and website? 

Since both have their benefits, it’s impossible to give one definitive answer. That’s why it’s important to know about both options, what they’re used for, and how you can build them.

eCommerce apps

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eCommerce mobile applications are made specifically for smartphones. They offer a great mobile experience for customers and are designed to make shopping simpler, more helpful, and even more entertaining. Customers can also operate them without an internet connection.

Apps are traditionally task-operated and their main goal is to get users to accomplish those tasks.

Customers like eCommerce mobile apps because they allow them to engage with their favorite brands. If you have an app, you can use push notifications to send reminders to your customers and inform them about all relevant news, new products, as well as any discounts and sales you’re running.

Mobile apps also allow customers to make purchases in a simpler way. Innovative technologies such as the mobile payment system “Apple Pay” allow them to purchase items without the hassle of entering their credit card information.

However, you need to understand that smartphones have much slower processes than computers, so your mobile app won’t be able to have the same complex features as your website. An eCommerce app needs to have great functionality but also a simple layout.

If you want to have a successful eCommerce application, you need to know how to design an app. Here is everything you need to know before building an eCommerce app.

Choose your primary niche

If you’re planning to sell a wide range of products, you need to choose one primary niche that will be included in your primary category. You can place other niches in your secondary sections while mostly focusing on your primary category.

You can choose your primary niche by conducting a market study to figure out your customers’ shopping habits and buying patterns to determine what they want to see in your app.

Decide on essential features

There are some features your customers will expect to see in your app such as:

  • Easy authentication feature such as a two-step login
  • Simple product search with categories
  • System for rating and reviews
  • Great customer support
  • Easy-in and easy-out policies
  • Accurate product tracking
  • Multiple secure payment methods
  • Advanced AI features

Balance your design elements

The design elements you implement need to be user-aiding and help your customers navigate through the app with ease.

Some design frameworks you could implement include:

  • Clean and clear interface that’s easy to use and has minimal graphics and color
  • Simple interface that showcases your products in a one-column structure
  • High-level functions such as cart, search, and a streamlined menu that are simple and easy to use
  • Minimum product information that’s displayed upfront with the “Read more” option for customers who want more info

Choose your platform

An important choice you have to make is whether you want to develop your application on the iOS or Android platform. To make this decision, it’s best to do market research and choose the platform that’s best suited for your ideal customers.

Both platforms are very popular, as the Google Play Store has 2.8 million apps available for download and that figure stands at 2.2 million for the Apple App Store.

Perform intensive testing

Before you can launch your app, you need to test it to see if it’s ready for the market. Some of the most important functionalities you need to test include:

  • Application’s workflow
  • SEO and mobile responsiveness
  • Simplicity and functionality of payment gateways
  • Compatibility with web browsers
  • Social media integrations

eCommerce websites

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Websites have always been essential to eCommerce brands and that won’t change any time soon. They are useful and very convenient for customers.

Having an online presence also helps you find new customers and if you don’t have a website, there is no way you’ll be able to attract people and introduce them to your brand. While apps are great for brands that already have an established reputation, they wouldn’t be of much use to new companies.

As 39% of global eCommerce traffic comes from search, it’s easy to see why a website that’s optimized for search engines is an essential eCommerce tool. Everything you need to know now is how to make a website.

Choose an eCommerce platform

There are multiple eCommerce platforms currently on the market that can help you create a fully operational eCommerce website without too much effort or any coding knowledge. It’s best to do some research on individual platforms to find the perfect one for you that fits your needs.

Some of the factors you should use to help you decide your ideal platform are its price, ease of use, and the number of eCommerce plugins it offers.

Decide how you want to include important elements on your website

There are certain functionalities every eCommerce website needs to have, so you need to figure out how you want to include them in your store.

  • Pages and categories. Decide how you can organize all pages and categories so your website visitors can find everything they’re looking for in only a few clicks. It’s best to organize your website in a way that helps your potential customers to shop.
  • Product pages. Your product pages need to attract your website visitor’s eye with great copy, high-quality pictures, and keywords.
  • Search bar. For those customers who come to your website looking for a specific product, include a prominent search bar at the top of your home page.
  • Reviews. Social proof is one of the best ways you can earn your website visitors’ trust, so find a place where you can display reviews prominently.
  • Shopping cart. This standard eCommerce feature should be displayed on all pages so customers can have easy access to products they’ve already placed in their cart.

Launch your store

When you create a website with your eCommerce platform, include all important elements, and fill it with your products, you’re ready to start selling. Don’t launch your store until you’re sure it’s completely operational and doesn’t have any broken links, typos, or any other issues.

Of course, your job isn’t done when your website is launched. You need to attract customers with different marketing tactics and SEO efforts, and once you start selling, you need to find ways to boost customer engagement.

And most importantly of all, you need to keep a close eye on eCommerce metrics. Metrics are important because they help you see if you’re able to meet your business objectives and analyze what works and what doesn’t.

When you keep track of metrics, you’ll know important data such as your customer acquisition cost, customer lifetime value, customer retention rate, and much more.

Final thoughts

Choosing between building an eCommerce app and an eCommerce website is a decision every online business owner has to make alone based on their needs and possibilities. It’s impossible to say that one is better than the other because both have some impressive qualities and benefits that the other one doesn’t.

Ideally, if it’s possible, you should have both. If you’re still trying to break into the eCommerce business it might be too early to start thinking about app development now. But in the end, both choices are good and there is no right answer. 

So, eCommerce app vs. website, what’s your choice?

Kiran Shahid:
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