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E-commerce App Development Cost and Timeframes in 2024: FAQ

It can be tough to find straightforward information about e-сommerce development costs and timelines for aspiring entrepreneurs. Existing articles cater to developers, leaving startup owners lost in tech talk and industry jargon. At Purrweb we decided to change this and created the ultimate guide on e-сommerce app development for startup owners.

Reading time: 14 minutes

ecommerce app development cost
Table of contents

Our guide aims to make the process simple, empowering entrepreneurs to embark on their mobile app development journey with confidence. We collected and answered frequently asked questions, such as: 

    • What is the cost of developing an ecommerce application?
    • How long does it take to build an eCommerce app like Amazon?
    • What features does the app need?
    • How can you monetize mobile e-commerce apps?
    • Where and how can you find highly skilled developers?

Enough preamble, let’s delve in.

Key takeaways

    • Well-known examples of e-commerce apps include global giants like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.
    • In 2024, there are 270.1 million people in the US who shop online. National e-commerce sales reached $1.1 trillion in 2023 for the first time ever. The market is growing fast and we receive a lot of inquiries about related apps for startups.
    • The estimated full-cycle ecommerce app development costs around $106 000 and it takes around 3 months.

What is an e-commerce platform?

E-commerce (electronic commerce) apps are platforms for buying and selling goods and services. They act as a mediator and connect businesses with consumers online. Usually, these services use a B2C (business-to-customer) model, like Amazon.com, or C2C, like eBay.com or Etsy.com. Some of them operate as B2B (business-to-business) platforms.

Can you imagine a world without online shopping? We certainly cannot.

In 2024, more than 270 million of US residents shop online, and national e-commerce sales reached $1.1 trillion in 2023 for the first time ever. 

The market is growing fast and with a rising competition, needless to say, users expect seamless shopping experience and feature rich functionalities.

Mobile App vs. Desktop

The history of online shopping started with commercial sales websites. Over time, mobile traffic overtook web traffic and these platforms were forced to evolve into ecommerce mobile apps. Nowadays, nearly 60% of users complete online purchases on their phones and most startups enter the market with a mobile app right away.

Home screen folder with shopping apps

Average smartphone users have 4.2 shopping apps

Market overview: current state

The pandemic has significantly accelerated e-commerce app development processes and changed online shopping forever. After many countries went into lockdown and implemented stay-at-home orders, the number of searches with the word “delivery” was up between 300% to 900% in various countries, according to Google stats.

The uncertainty of the situation has had an impact on shoppers’ habits worldwide. Studies show that people started spending more money on essentials, for example, groceries and household items. Meanwhile, the budget for apparel and travel saw a decrease during these times.

Should you enter the e-commerce market now?

Despite the apparent trepidation, now is a great time to start an e-commerce startup. Currently, the retail mobile app market doesn’t meet the demand of billions of users wishing to shop online — they’re dealing with delivery delays, increased fees, and out-of-stock items because there are no good competitors to go to. While millions of local businesses and vendors are struggling to find customers, your solution can help them meet their online needs.

How e-commerce app benefits businesses

Frankly, it will be easy for you to find the first users for your future app, as there are 2 problems of small businesses that an ecommerce mobile app can solve: it broadens the audience nationwide, or even worldwide, and increases the retention rate for long term success. Let’s take a closer look at both of them.

Increases retention rate

Ecommerce apps increase the retention and engagement rates of your service. For example, a user adds an item to the cart but does not complete the payment. Your platform can catch a customer later on send a push-notification with a special offer to bring them back. It is possible only with an app because the desktop version allows you to interact only through email (if a customer leaves one), which is likely to go directly to their junk folder.

Expands target audience

Online shopping platforms expand your target audience local, to everyone shopping online. Imagine opening up a gift shop in a nice neighborhood, but then the pandemic hits, and footfall goes to near zero. Sales rapidly drop and you have to find a way to reconnect with customers again. You have 2 choices: to wait it out and possibly close up shop or to go online and find new customers via an e-commerce platform.

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How your e-commerce app can make money 

Before discussing the eCommerce app development cost and timeline, let’s talk about the income. Research suggests that the average eCommerce store generates $150,000 in revenue after 3 months on the market. There are several monetization strategies for such apps to thrive:

Delivery fee

The most popular and easiest way to make money out of an eCommerce app is to charge a small fee for the delivery of each item. However, we would recommend you take a look at other strategies because studies show that 75% of consumers expect delivery to be free. For some, it becomes the deciding factor in whether to buy from you or not. For example, giants like Amazon dropped delivery fees in favor of other monetization strategies.

Commission fee

The majority of apps charge a sales commission for each item sold on their marketplace. For instance, Myntra charges a fixed commission of 4% to 5%, depending on the category and brand of the product.

Subscription 

This is one of the most popular methods to monetize an e-commerce app. Amazon offers Amazon Prime, a membership package that unlocks special offers and unlimited free delivery on millions of items. Users have a choice to pay $12.99 monthly or $119 annually.

Sponsored content

If sellers want to be on top of search results, they can pay a little extra and attract more buyers.

Amazon search page

If you want to be honest with customers, this kind of content should be marked as sponsored

7 key features for the e-commerce app platform 

Any e-commerce app is a double-sided platform for both sellers and buyers. We created a list of key features your solution will need for both parties:

1. Registration and personal account

Every app starts with a login page. No matter who opens it – buyer or seller – they have to start by providing basic information about themselves. We suggest keeping it as short and simple as possible: ask for an email, the first and last names, and a phone number. Make sure to add social media integration, so new users can sign-up using their existing accounts on Facebook or Instagram.

Don’t forget about a personal account page so that later on users can get back to it and set it up with more details and preferences.

Amazon login page

Users should spend no more than 2 minutes filling in the registration form. Otherwise, they will get annoyed and bounce off quickly

2. Catalog 

Here your solution will need a search bar to look for a particular item and also be able to filter by categories such as price, color, brand, etc. Sellers should be able to add new items to the list and attach photos and filter tags to them.

Overall, the search results page will contain a lot of elements, so make sure you work with an experienced UX/UI designer, who will keep the item catalog intuitive and easy to navigate. Additionally, make sure to add a Share button, so users can easily share a product in a message or on social media accounts.

3. Item Page

The item page should represent all necessary information about the item, such as the name, photos, description, price, delivery date, and reviews from previous buyers. Now many consumers consider shipping costs and special deals even before getting to the checkout page, so make sure you display all conditions from the beginning.

Product page on the Amazon website

The item page should contain all info that helps customers make the decision

4. Wishlists

When browsing, you probably see a lot of things that you want to save for the future, it’s useful to be able to just add the item to your wishlist. This feature is essential for customer retention. They can bookmark items that they like, and if the price for a wishlist item drops, you can send a push-notification to inform the user.

Shopping list page on Amazon

Amazon also generates recommendations based on a user’s wishlist

5. Payment feature

Customers should be able to add a product to the cart, see the total and then pay. If they don’t complete the payment, you can remind them about the order later on and bring them back to the app, increasing retention rate. Also, make sure your app supports ApplePay, GooglePay, and PayPal for the convenience  of your customers.

When it comes to finances, we recommend double-checking that you implemented a reliable payment gateway and secured the connection with data storage services. 

6. Order history

The history of previous orders and payments is essential for both sellers and buyers. Customers could see what they have bought, when, and also how much money they have spent, while vendors could track their sales and count their income with this feature.

7. Customer support chat

Startups like eCommerce apps deal with a lot of customer inquiries and feedback. People buy and sell a high volume of goods daily and it might be difficult to keep an eye on the quality of every single item. If you don’t want unsatisfied customers to go to social media, customer support should be easy to reach so questions and concerns can be addressed. We recommend implementing messaging functionality so users can easily contact support and get help quickly.

A screenshot of chat support on Amazon

To cut costs you can connect your platform with a customer support bot that answers all frequent questions automatically

How to develop an ecommerce app in 5 steps?

Here are the essential steps of the ecommerce app development process:

Step 1. Conduct market research

Here’s what goes into market research:

    • Trends. They depend on changing technologies and user needs. Developing your app according to trends can increase the relevance of your app.
    • Competitors. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors will help you avoid their mistakes and develop strategies to conquer the market.
    • Target audience. Studying the habits and needs of your audience will allow you to create a set of features that will address their pain points.

By researching these, it will be much easier to meet the needs of your audience and make the app useful.

Step 2. Choose the hiring model

Choose what best suits your needs and budget:

    • In-house development gives you full control over development, but it can be expensive and time-consuming when hiring employees.
    • Outsourcing allows you to delegate the entire development process to an agency, saving you some time and money.
    • Outstaffing is suitable when you already have a team but don’t have the time to hire and train new employees, or when your developers lack some expertise.

Step 3. Design and develop

First comes the UI/UX design development. Make sure your ecommerce mobile app has a clean and intuitive interface. This will give users a smooth user experience and keep them using your app.

Then, the development team starts building the app. They write the code and implement features one by one.

Step 4. Test your ecommerce mobile app

Once you have developed the application, it’s time to test its performance and check for bugs. Pay close attention to security. Users’ personal data and payment information must be securely protected.

Step 5. Release and maintain

After you release the app to the app stores, it’s essential to plan ongoing maintenance. This includes bug fixes, security patches and new features. Releasing regular updates will keep your app competitive.

Cost breakdown of e-commerce mobile app development 

Here comes the most interesting and vital part: ecommerce app development cost and timeframe. Before we start, an important note from us: at Purrweb we try to make the process for our clients as transparent as possible, and we always openly discuss all future steps. If you want to get a personalized price estimation, just contact us through the form.

When it comes to costs, the general rule is the bigger team you hire, the more you pay. The good news is that we work with React Native framework which allows us to develop apps like Amazon or Myntra really quickly and to use one JavaScript code and one team for both iOS and Android systems. It saves our clients tons of time and money.

Let’s do the math now! When you work with us, you can expect to pay for the following:

UI/UX app design costs

We plan and execute the interface, build a prototype, and choose fonts and color schemes that match your style and business requirements best.

See also  How Much does It Cost to Design an App

App development costs

It’s simple: you pay, and we build an ecommerce app. Our team can offer React Native cross-platform development in line with best practices and cutting edge technology on the market to cover a larger market by building an app for both iOS and Android eCommerce apps. During this, we consider all important elements, including a secure payment gateway, product page and push notifications.

QA Testing 

We test the usability of your application to find and fix all potential bugs before the release.

App deployment cost

We upload the app to the production environment and connect it with servers, making it available for your audience.

Project management 

We chaperone the project, plan sprints, track the progress and solve administrative tasks.

Costs breakdown

🚨Disclaimer: These are our estimations and we don’t guarantee other companies have the same costs or timelines. The following is valid only if you work with us.

Stage Timeframe Approximate costs
Initial meeting 1 day Free at Purrweb
UI/UX design 150 hours $7 500
React Native development 860 hours $43 000
Backend API + admin panel 600 hours $30 000
QA Testing 500 hours $11 000
Project management 3 months $15 000

Average eCommerce app development time for the Purrweb team is 3 months. According to similar projects we have made, the estimated eCommerce app development cost is around $106 000 for a full cycle of execution – UI/UX design, building a prototype, testing, creating iOS and Android versions, and more.

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5 factors affecting the ecommerce app development costs 

Building a successful e-commerce mobile app requires a good understanding of the factors that influence cost of developing. By carefully considering these 5 things and making informed decisions, businesses can build an ecommerce app that meets the needs of their customers and gets the most out of their investment.

The complexity of app design

UI/UX design plays a vital role in determining the cost of developing. A simple and minimalistic app design may require less time and effort, resulting in lower costs. On the other hand, a complex and trendy design with intricate user interfaces, animations, and unique features can increase development time and drive up costs.

Also, an ecommerce app development company is responsible for creating seamless user experience, intuitive navigation, and visually appealing aesthetics. It requires significant investment in user research, prototyping, and testing, as well as skilled UI/UX designers — their level of expertise will also impact the overall development costs.

App development platform

The choice of app development platform and technology stack is another critical factor influencing the cost of building an e-commerce mobile app. Businesses have the choice to either develop separate native apps for iOS and Android, or opt for cross-platform development frameworks like React Native.

See also  React Native challenges and benefits in 2024. UPD

Developing native apps for multiple devices generally incurs higher costs because it requires two separate development teams and maintenance efforts. In contrast, cross-platform frameworks offer cost efficiencies as a single team can handle development for both iOS and Android. 

App functionality

The features and functionality of an e-commerce app significantly impact the overall cost of mobile app development. Basic e-commerce apps with standard features like catalog, push notifications, product recommendations, wish lists, shopping carts, and secure payment gateways tend to be more affordable. However, as the app complexity increases, so does the cost.

Integration with third-party services, such as inventory management systems, customer support tools, and analytics platforms, may also add to the ecommerce mobile app development costs. Moreover, the inclusion of advanced features like augmented reality (AR) for virtual try-ons, personalized product recommendations, and in-app chat support will require additional development time and resources.

Team size and location

Where your development team is located and how many experts it consists of, matters. Hiring a team of experienced developers, designers, quality assurance engineers, and project managers will have a direct impact on the overall budget.

The hourly rates of the ecommerce app development company can vary significantly based on their location. Offshore development teams, in countries with lower labor costs, may offer better rates but can also pose challenges related to communication and project management. On the other hand, hiring a local team may involve higher hourly rates, but it can lead to more efficient collaboration and better quality control.

See also  Offshoring vs outsourcing: what is the best way to launch a startup and not go crazy?

Timeline of the project

The timeline set for your ecommerce mobile app development is a critical factor in determining the overall cost. Rushing the development process to meet an unrealistic deadline can only cause higher expenses due to overtime pay and potential compromises on quality. Conversely, extending the project timeline might lead to additional costs in terms of team retention and maintenance.

4 ways to reduce e-commerce mobile app development cost 

Depending on your business requirements and planned budget for developing an e commerce app, there are several ways to reduce costs:

    • Сhoosе open-source platforms. They provide a source code that you can re-use, modify and enhance. It will serve as the foundation of your mobile app.
    • Simplify app design. In terms of design, complex doesn’t mean good. Recent trends include minimalism, intuitive interfaces, simplicity, and a clean look.
    • Prioritize key features. Focus on the features you need the most. For example, without a payment gateway or real time order tracker, a user won’t be able to complete and receive a purchase, but maybe social media integration can wait.
    • Start with MVP (minimum viable product). MVP is the first fully-functioning version of your product. It usually has a limited set of features, which is enough for users to use and provide feedback. It can help you test the market and develop an ecommerce app that will be relevant for your target audience.

How to find a contractor in 2024?

We know it is not easy to find a reliable and fast developer to build mobile ecommerce app. There is no time for mistakes, you have to move quickly with your solution while the market is evolving. Here we gathered 3 bits of advice from our team on how to choose ecommerce app developers:

Choose companies over freelance developers

It’s more convenient and time-efficient to get all services from a professional team with good communication. Imagine spending time finding a coder and designer and then managing all of the processes by yourself. Why bother, when you can delegate and focus on release strategy and investor pitching, the developers’ lab will cover all technical aspects of development and polish your solution.

Check reviews

It is always better to be safe than sorry. We advise performing a background search and reading feedback on your potential contractor beforehand. First of all, Google the name of the company and see what comes up. Then check professional websites, such as Behance and Dribbble for portfolios and reviews.

Choose someone who works with React Native

For a startup, money and time can be crucial. The React Native framework has many benefits for newly released apps. For example, a shared codebase allows developers to build two apps for both iOS and Android with 60-65% similar code. It not only saves time and money for the startup but also helps to release the product for a larger market. Also, React Native eases the testing process and helps to quickly discover and fix all possible bugs before the release.

Wrapping up

Recent years significantly boosted the e-commerce sector. Only in 2022, 76% of adults in the U.S. shopped online and national e-commerce sales reached $1.03 trillion in 2022 for the first time ever. 

The market is growing rapidly and the demand exceeds its current opportunities. That’s why now is the perfect time to choose your niche and start building your solution.

Here are 7 key features to consider when developing an eCommerce app:

ecommerce app development cost

Let’s talk money. If you are wondering how much does ecommerce app development could cost and how much money you can make, here is the answer. Studies show that the average ecommerce store generates $150,000 in revenue after 3 months on the market. There are 4 main monetization strategies:

    • delivery fee
    • commission fee
    • subscription
    • sponsored content

Our advice is not to stick to only one strategy, but to mix them together. Also, keep an eye on recent trends and big companies’ updates. For example, recent research showed that 80% of customers prefer delivery to be free of charge when they are shopping online, and they look at it before getting to the checkout page.

The estimated full-cycle ecommerce app development cost is from $ 20 000 to $ 40 000 and it takes around 800 hours [64 days].

At Purrweb, we build eCommerce mobile platforms with a focus on UX/UI design and QA testing to develop a robust cutting-edge solution. We have a blog where we openly share our experience and a portfolio with previous works where you can check our style. Plus, we work with cost effective and time-efficient React Native that helps us develop fully-functioning high-performing marketplace apps in 4-6 months.

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FAQ s

  • What is an ecommerce mobile app?

    E-commerce (electronic commerce) apps are platforms for buying and selling goods and services. They act as a mediator and connect businesses with consumers online. Usually, these services use a B2C (business-to-customer) model, like Amazon.com, or C2C, like ebay.com or Etsy.com.

  • What are the benefits of an ecommerce mobile app for businesses?

    There are two problems that ecommerce mobile app development can solve: it can broaden your audience nationwide, or even worldwide, and increase your retention rate for long term success.

  • How much does it cost to develop an e commerce app?

    The estimated full-cycle ecommerce development costs around $106 000 and it takes around 3 months.

  • Does it take a long time to develop an e commerce app?

    Developing an e commerce app on average takes around 3 months.