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eCommerce App: How I choose the Best App Builder to Create in 2021 [No Coding Required] 

Your eCommerce app can make or break your online business success. Here is how I choose the right tools to build my profitable e-commerce app. 

The global eCommerce market size was $10.36 trillion in 2020 with a growth rate of 14.7% CAGR - Due to increasing smartphone users. But the need for businesses to own an eCommerce app far outruns the capacity of developers available to develop them.
You now have the business-focused, fully managed app-building tools at your disposal to create your eCommerce app interactively and visually - means you don't write a single line of coding. 

So, why not challenge your business rivals with an app that is modern and user-centered from every angle?

Challenge with e-commerce app development using an app builder

Alright, the app-building platforms are increasingly popping up, and every one of them seems to attract business owners. There is no well-defined answer to which one of them is the best. 
But do you know that even app builder vendors want your ideas and opinions? Here is how. 
Take for instance that we all love MS Excel, a feature-rich, friendly spreadsheet program (Sorry Google Sheets). Some go to the extent to say that the best program Microsoft has ever made. Despite this, there are many features, I have seen being hardly used — “useless to many users!” 
The same goes with these app builders too. There are plenty of features that appeal to the majority, while a few seem to be the favorite of selected users. So you are the best judge.
You as a business owner or manager can only see what value a feature can bring to your business operation - no one else.  
Because out of tons of features these tools come with, it's you who would know which ones will help you achieve your goal or save your business lots of money implementing them. 

eCommerce app example using my business case study

In this post, I want to be someone who has realized the importance of having a mobile app for my business's success and has just started trying out the best app builder to create an eCommerce app to help my business take a 360-degree turn.  And gain a competitive edge among the rest. Let us dive deep! 
When you choose to create your eCommerce app with Zappter, you get two distinct advantages:

  1. Fully customizable UI that is only comparable with the custom mobile app development.
  2. The packed eCommerce features that you can turn on and off to customize your app to handle your simple or complex business.
Zappter works with four core business features (plugins):
  1. E-Commerce plugin
  2. Reservations & Booking plugin
  3. Events plugin
  4. Landing Page plugin
Because business app-building can't be complete or meet the needs without comprehensively looking into these areas. At Zappter, we developed these plugins with full functionalities to support businesses of small, medium, and large sizes. 

The plugins are ready to accommodate the requirements to address various business needs of different owners with a few tweaks
Then we have the other hundreds of supportive plugins that adds value and perfection to your core business plugins. It is how we simplify your app-building experience and enhance your app's UX.

I am a business owner without an eCommerce app my business. 

For over a decade, I have been running my clothing boutique store without a mobile app, but with just a basic static website that does nothing other than displaying a few images and spell out my brand with few texts. 
What I realized is that it is only the sales that decreased throughout the years, while the salaries, bills, utilities, rent, ad spend, etc., all increased - obviously. The reason?
I have not been able to cope up with the competition. To put it more precisely, customer demands, buying habits changed but not the way how I have been doing the business. 
Perhaps, I knew,  wanted an eCommerce app, but not before the pandemic and a few lockdowns that I realize that an eCommerce app is essential for my business or any business for that matter. 

My competitors with an eCommerce app

I have bigger competitors on the same street and around. And my business started to taste bitter when I started to see previously unseen competitors started to crop up on the internet. 
They offer at much cheaper prices, large varieties to offer their customers, and above all, they can reach out to their customers and potential customers which I couldn't do much virtually. 
They even offer loyalty programs, which my little business can’t even dream of. 
So I started to feel my business is being buried in the competition day in and day out as the consumer behavioral shift unfolding. And COVID-19 is pouring fuel onto it.
It is when I realize that I need a new channel that can promote my business directly to the customers and the potential customers wherever they are. And keep them engaged and loyal. 
So all I want is a positive effect on the bottom line to see my business improves - to boost sales. I wanted to sell online using an eCommerce app! The next big challenge is where I should start from? 
Some of your eCommerce app features of Zappter include:

  • Multi-store eCommerce app, single signup to handle all your chain of stores with centralized administration.
  • Sell your items individually and as packages with multiple items included.
  • Have complete control over every little detail of the items you sell such as pricing, SKU, images, sell-button, and item description.
  • Upsell, cross-sell, recommend linked-items.
  • Customer ratings and comments.
  • Create your loyalty programs and enable users to collect/spend points.
  • Control selling days and hours at app level and override at single item levels.
  • Allow customers to mark their favorite items so they can quickly add them to their cart on repeated visits
  • Categories, sub-categorize your listing and even add chosen categories to app's upperbar and bottombar.
  • Add surcharges, shipping charges and taxes to your selling items.
  • Customize your shopping cart and its behavior to choose your type of business and enhance your user experience. 
  • You can also define sell-rules that make any buyer eligible to buy such as delivery perimeters, validate user data and many more options.
  • The list goes on...
 Your eCommerce app for bookings is intuitive and full-scale with Zappter. The Reservations plugin has several simple & complex booking features that you can turn on or off to adapt your app to work with your business requirements.

With this plugin, you can turn your app into a hotel booking engine, spa, salon, car rental, or any business model that involves simple to complex booking operations.

Several confusions: eCommerce website, readymade ecommerce app, free ecommerce app, paid app, and more; which one to choose and where to start from? 

Do I really need to sell online? Yes. So I can sell through an ecommerce mobile app and website (mainly desktop). Question arises as to prioritize on smartphones or desktop.

Mobile app vs website; which one helps me reach my targets faster? 

I know that I need to start a rigorous marketing strategy to catch what I have been missing. So, I would prioritize looking at developing my eCommerce app for these reasons: 
  • for increasing my engagement with target customers, I need to reach out to them to promote my business and what it has to offer them unobtrusively. Send them push notifications on discounts, sales, new products, and relevant news
  • Researches suggest that today’s consumers prefer using their mobile devices to buy products & services. M-Commerce (e-commerce done through using mobile devices) has poised to burst into the mainstream due to changing consumer behavior
  • And not forget the spending power of tech-savvy Millennials and Gen Zers who prefer shopping with their smartphones. So I need to take this group of potential customers seriously for any business expansion
Now decided, my next move is to check how I am going to develop an app for my business? 
Online shopping used to be popular among younger generations in modern and advanced countries around the world. Not anymore, because of the increased use of smartphones, the shift in purchase power from the US/EU to China & Southeast Asia, and now the pandemic, the shopping online has become ubiquitous.

So, an average consumer’s online shopping interests and behavior are evolving at a rapid pace. Today more people across different countries prefer buying products & services using their smartphones. 

Plus, eCommerce had already been on the rise in many industries when WHO declared COVID-19 as the global pandemic in March 2020. The announcement followed by lockdowns & distancing upsurged the online purchases even more, and eCommerce flourish with a large number of first-timers (both on the consumer and provider sides) joining the trend — it continues without any sign of slowing down.
As we witness, the Coronavirus impacted the retail sector badly and profoundly. The closure of brick-and-mortar stores shifted the sales from retail to e-retail. As a result, it created opportunities for eCommerce solutions, eCommerce websites, and eCommerce apps. 

But a large portion of eCommerce success wouldn’t have been achieved without mobile devices taking part in these transactions

Types of Mobile Apps by Technology

Hang on before I get my feet wet. It's worth discussing types of mobile app technologies:
  • Native apps: 
  • Web apps:
  • Hybrid apps:

How to create an eCommerce mobile app? 

I have one of three different choices to go with: 
1. Hire a development agency to develop my app. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and I need to allocate someone with technical knowledge to collaborate with the developer team.
Once deployed, I need to keep going back to them for modifications and upgrades — so a tech-savvy employee dedicated to attending to these needs is inevitable. 
I don’t think it’s something that I can afford at this moment, especially when every second counts, and is crucial. The more time it takes for my app to hit the market, the deeper my business is going to be buried in the competition. Then, resources and the costs? I don’t think I am ready for it right now. Most importantly, is there a thing among my needs that an online builder can’t handle these days? Read on to find that out. 
2. Use an app generation service to create an app. Simplest, easiest, and cheapest solution. It’s because I just need to sign up with one of these service providers and they’re going to set my app with an identical-looking working template of many others who have used the same service. 
But wait, it’s not an ideal solution that any business owner wants to choose if he truly loves to develop his business with an app; why? In 2017, Apple released an App Store guideline that would reject specifically targeting this sort of cloned app templates. 
I wouldn’t want to risk getting rejected on one of two major app stores when my target is to distribute my app amongst the largest user base possible — No thanks to these app generation services. 
3. Sign up with a professional app builder platform to create an app for my business. Here are the winning points for me as a small business owner choosing this method: 
I don’t have to block a huge investment or take months of work to launch my mobile app. The end result, the quality is on par with a custom-developed app, or in some cases, I would say even better since the app builder companies are vying with each other to produce quality products that undergo heavy testings before releasing of each component and functionality. 
And, unlike with previously spoken app generators, these app builders have the capability to build your business app based on existing templates to simplify your task, yet provide the right tools to heavily customize an app to look and feel unique. 
Now that I know what I need to do, my next serious task is to evaluate some of the best app builder products on the market to start building. But, before that, here is the set of criteria, based on which I would select the best app builder partner for my business app-building. 
Types of Mobile Apps by Technology:

  • Native apps: 
  • Web apps:
  • Hybrid apps:

App Builder Criteria 

  • I am not tech-savvy or a developer. I expect my chosen app builder to guide me throughout the process of building my app. Even though many platforms advertise to build apps in minutes, to be practical, I have no issues in taking a few days to build my app perfectly
  • As I expect my app to do a lot of outreach and engagement, I know the most important thing for me to have my business presence on major app stores like Google Play and App Store. So I expect the app builder to smoothen this aspect by guiding my way for an optimized app store submission
  • Similarly, I am going to be a heavy push notification strategist to take my marketing efforts to the next levels. So I would often be creating promotions, then send instant pushes on my promotions, schedule pushes, and most importantly, target audiences based on several metrics. As I am going to be heavily dependent on push notifications, I need to make sure that I don’t overdo to the extent that my users switch off notifications from my business. I am sure, with the right strategy along with carefully targeting the right audience for the right messages will not only keep avoid becoming spam but also increase user engagement, so I will target based on location, age group, gender, and buyer preferences
  • And, I need to integrate with major social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Insta, and YouTube. When users share their brand experience through social media, my business gains, probably the most powerful marketing and brand push there since no marketing tactics can beat word of mouth.
And I want to offer my users some of the best shopping experiences. I would focus on several areas here, and they are:
  • I want to organize my listings in a way that my customers should be easily able to recognize products. And, provide some listings of frequently used items easily accessible from anywhere within the app. Say, well-organized listings with images, and quick access to frequently purchased items from the header bar or bottom bar of the app. And, there is an ‘item search’ option available from the main screen to assist those users who are in hurry to find their items.
  • Add support for addons, such as ingredients and modifiers to be added along with the main items my users select to buy. And, I should have the control to price or not price these items along with the main items.
  • When checking out, I need to support my customers with several payment options so that I can reduce cart abandonment in case a customer doesn’t have one particular.
  • I want to have control over where we deliver by ZIP codes or any perimeter that my business can afford to deliver.
  • When I do deliver or accept an order, I should be able to set controls or learn more about a buyer and intentions — as this server for security as well as collecting buyer preferences to better serve in the future.
  • Currently, I need to support VAT postings along with the purchases, but in the future, I am also planning to add posting Tips.
  • There is also one important requirement that I can’t overlook as a seller; it is to properly calculate the shipping cost of an item and charge that amount back to the buyer so I don’t have to pull my hair when trying to trace my losses.
  • Last but not least, a comprehensive refund option where I should be able to select full refund or retained refund to keep some service charges incurred to return the rest to the buyer.

My overall eCommerce operation

  • Then comes, the most important part of my operation that should be handled accurately; processing customer orders and communications. Importantly, I will need my team of designated individuals to handle the day-to-day tasks while I need to see complete transparency of the entire operation and jump in to take over whenever and wherever needs arise.
  • Finally, I want to use the data to understand the complete picture of how my customers and users perceive the app and utilize the insights to improve the business for the betterment of my users as well as my revenues.
Well, these are my basic or little more than the basics that I expect from any app builder as I am sure any app builder with these capabilities would be not just your partner but the best companion that anyone can reply on doing business with.