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How to build an ecommerce app: tips for non-technical entrepreneur

# How to build an ecommerce app: tips for non-technical entrepreneur

How to build an ecommerce app: tips for non-technical entrepreneur

Table of Contents

Anastasia Romanova


Anastasia Romanova

Content Manager

Category: Business
5 min read

In the today's world, the importance of change is clear to each and every entrepreneur. Business digitalization and our mode of life as a whole is pushing more and more people to switch to online shopping.

According to the data from Statista, about 23% of users in the US have become more active in using e-commerce applications. And this makes your chances of attracting a client raise up 23%.

build an ecommerce app statistic

More buyers are driving industry overall growth . And it only continues to grow in the forecast future. Perhaps the reason for rapid increase in online sales this year is that everyone has to stay home for a long time. And shopping online is one of not so many options to have fun while staying home.

Maybe it's because online shopping is faster and more convenient than offline stores. No queues, no cashiers, zero non-eco-friendly packages... One thing is clear - e-commerce is here to stay.

According to the date from the statista, the profit growth of online-only sellers in the United States has increased significantly in recent years, and it only continues to grow in the foreseeable future.

build an ecommerce app graphics

But for software solution like this, you need a technical background. Doesn't matter if it's yours, your team’s or third-party professionals.

So what to do if you are a non-technical entrepreneur, but you need an e-commerce application? We will tell you all about this and more.


E-commerce applications: forms and technologies

Every entrepreneur knows how important it is to understand the basis of the product they work with. In the case of e-commerce, this is a whole range of products and services that is used for online trading.

It’s not only Amazon and EBay. It is also mobile and web applications, web sites, as well as a whole set of programs for managing trading operations in the digital environment.

E-commerce technologies include:

  • mobile commerce
  • supply chain management
  • electronic funds transfers
  • Internet management
  • online transaction processing
  • electronic data interchange (EDI)
  • order management systems
  • automated data collection systems

This seems clear for the moment. The main goal of these technologies is to establish effective relations between the buyer and the seller. There are 6 forms of these trade relations and each one represents a different dynamics of interaction between sides. Before the e-commerce application development starts it’s important to understand what form is at the core of your business. This is the determining factor that maximizes the effectiveness of software.

Business-to-Business (B2B)

This is about the trading relationship between one business and another. Most often, this type of electronic sales is used by wholesalers. B2B is very similar to the following B2C. And this form of trade relations is also most often seen in online marketplaces. A faster opportunity to purchase goods and resell them to their direct customers allows such companies to gain a competitive advantage over others.

Business-to-Consumer (B2C)

A form of e-commerce that defines trading between an organization and customer. Buyers prefer this type of product relationships, because it allows them to explore the market, find the best prices, and read reviews about both the seller and the product. Internet commerce in particular also refers to this form of trading. It can be marketplaces, shops on social networks, one-page sites or online auctions, both retail and wholesale. On the part of the organization, this is more convenient because e-commerce applications save money on employees. Moreover - they immediately show the best of the company through reviews / portfolios, high-quality images of goods or nicely written commercial text.

Consumer-to-Business (C2B)

An inverted type of trade relationship in which the client has a product, and the company is interested in buying it. Perhaps this is a service or stock images; maybe - finished work, which is needed in someone's business. Most often, for trading of this type, web portals are used to provide services, or mobile applications for the same purpose.

Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C)

A popular form of e-commerce applications in which a customer sells goods to other customers. Most often, this is a platform for an electronic transfer of funds, or an auction. In e-commerce apps like this, each individual user is not a store, but the same client as the rest. Sometimes such sales are made on social networks or websites. Sometimes such sales are made on social networks or on websites.

Business-to-Administration (B2A)

A form of trade relations between companies and government. Most often, circulation isn't limited to manufactured goods solely and includes services. For example, resolving security issues, providing government agencies with software products, or social and other services. Bots for insurance and AI drones for protection already exist in the world. Such services create its own software solutions to ensure high-quality communication with the client (administration, in this case).

Consumer-to-Administration (C2A)

An e-commerce of this type notes all ongoing transactions between a citizen of a certain country and its government agencies; from tax returns to health insurance. This most often occurs through administrations websites or applications.

Why do you need to know this? To determine which application you are building and know more about your own product. For example, mobile commerce is most often found in the form of B2C and C2C trading relationships, and supply chain management is especially useful for B2B, B2C, or B2A.

Creating an e-commerce application is a long and laborious process. If you start it without a technical background, do your homework and know EVERYTHING about your product.


What are your ways to create an e-commerce?

You have three ways, and each of these has its pros and cons.

Learn how to code

People say: if you want to do something well, do it yourself. And this is almost always true, but when you need to do something that is completely out of your field of experience... Maybe you shouldn't do it alone?

There is only one Batman in the world, and even he doesn’t really work alone.

Behind every popular e-commerce application is a whole team of professionals working side by side. Of course, it will be very neat if you learn how to write code and create the next Amazon in your garage, but it will take years.

Pros? You will understand all the subtleties of your product.

Cons? You will be very tired.

If you don’t have an eternity, or are not ready for years of studying, you need an IT partner.


Use best e-commerce app builders

If you cannot write code and are not ready to learn, there is a simple solution for you - an e-commerce application builder. It will construct the app architecture for you - all you need to do is invest your unique filling in it. There are many of services like those, but here are a few that are considered the best:

  • Wix - the best app builder if you have absolutely no inclination to work with technology;
  • Shopify - the most popular solution, and it has to be for a reason;
  • Squarespace - if you value design - this is an app builder just for you;
  • Bigcartel - an easy, beautiful, but fairly limited solution.

E-commerce application builders will pack your stuffing into a ready-made technological solution, and you won't have to bother with an understanding of how it all works. It is fast, cheap and cheerful, but has its pros and cons.


  • fast: with the application builder, you can create your e-commerce app in one or several days. And immediately after creation, your e-commerce application will be ready for use.
  • cheap: the cost of an application builder is usually cheaper than developing an e-commerce app from scratch. In addition, many builders have a free trial.


  • unreliable: you cannot be sure in working capacity and efficiency of an e-commerce app made in builders. If something goes wrong, no one can fix the bugs.
  • short-lived solution: your application won't be able to change and meet the requirements of the market. Thus, it soon grows old and ceases to be interesting to the customers.
  • not unique: what you make in builders will also be a solution of hundreds of other sellers. E-commerce applications tend to mix in the eyes of the buyer, turning into a homogeneous mass. So you need something that will highlight your app.
  • In addition, and this is the main thing: a ready-made solution will not be 100% suitable for your business.

However, if you are looking for a more convenient and unique IT-product, or you are not satisfied with ready-made solutions, you need custom software.


Hire a professional team

An employee or company that will help you develop an e-commerce application will provide you with a quality solution that will last for a long time. If you work with a reliable company, an IT partner will maintain the product after release. Many companies take care of maintaining the product’s high-quality functionality, especially if it’s not a work with a remake of a ready-made solution, but custom software.

Custom software is tailored to your needs and fits perfectly into your business. Look at a comparison of its pros and cons and decide for yourself.


  • high-quality software: a team of well-coordinated developers or at least a few specialists was working on it. People who are professionally engaged in their work, and are experts in this field. Better work reduces the likelihood that the application won't work correctly and your customers will be annoyed by it.
  • it is reliable: when several hundred thousand customers come to your server at the same time (yes, we believe in you this much), you will truly appreciate the reliability of the software. The server will withstand the influx of clients and heavy loads. And if something goes wrong - developers will quickly return the product to working capacity. In a good company it will be done at their expense.
  • it is unique: what is created for you will be a completely unique product. And you are the only business with this e-commerce application. In addition, this solution will fully meet your requirements and needs.
  • this is a guarantee of confidence: reliable companies offer detailed IT consulting on developing an e-commerce application, and sign a non-disclosure agreement with the client. Their work is their best shot. IT companies work for results, and their success is linked to product quality.


  • it takes a long time: developing an e-commerce application from scratch takes about 400 hours.
  • it's expensive: you need an estimate working hours of each employee of the team.


How to choose a dream-team to develop an e-commerce application

If a custom solution is your choice, you have two ways of going. You can hire a full-time employee or use the services of an outsourcing company. A small comparison of these two options will help you determine the best solution.


Full-time developer Outsource
Pros Pros
Personal interest in your success Professional team and management

Constant learning and skills improvement

You have time to focus on company's main activity

The ability to check the result at the workplace

Quick and more effective innovations


You have warranties on the code*


 Not as expensive as full-time
Cons Cons
Expensive Not as flexible communication
A lot depends on little team Doesn't work with very small projects
 You do all the management *If reliable company is chosen
 Full-timers need more control  

It doesn't matter whether you choose to work with a company to develop an e-commerce application, or hire full time employees, your team should consist of:

  • Project manager to manage processes;
  • UI / UX designer to create a convenient application;
  • iOS and Android developers / web & front-end developer;
  • Backend developers;
  • QA tester.

Now that you have assembled your dream team, you can move on. The developing of an e-commerce application will take several steps, and you need to think about the special features you want in your app.


Features of the e-commerce applications development

The main feature of e-commerce applications is a constant workload and the need for quick adaptation. The audience won't forgive outdated technologies and inconvenient functionality; competition is too high to make such mistakes.

Must-have features

To interest target audience, discounts or low prices are not enough. If you have everything for $ 1, including the design of your e-commerce application, success will bypass you.

Therefore, we offer you a set of must-have features, without which an ecommerce application won’t be attractive to the target audience. These are not all standard modules that should be in your application, but we advise you to pay maximum attention to them.

Registration process

Make it easier. It's a must-have feature for mobile e-commerce apps. If your registration field requires you to enter a phone number, bank card, first name, last name, 8-character password, address, foot size and the number of the house that Jack built - no one will fill it out.

Now each of your clients has a social network profile. Use the automatic registration (and authorization) function. This will increase the likelihood that the buyer will remain in the application longer.

Payment methods

And again - keep it simple. In addition, your e-commerce application needs more options for payment. Do not use only one proven method. Yes, they should all be safe, but better if there are several ways to pay for an item.

Even if the buyer finds the best product in the universe, but there is no suitable payment method for them, they won't buy it. Provide people with a choice, and make sure that “buy goods” is just one big and convenient button.


Push! Push! Push notifications and no others. Let the client know about everything interesting for them, even when they're not in the application.

Is the order processed? Push! Order delivered? Push! New promotion? Push again!

Perhaps order tracking features will also come in handy to your application. If you deliver goods by mail, your customers surely want to know where their purchase is now.

In addition, you definitely need seller / product ratings and the ability to rate purchases in e-commerce applications. Notify your customer every time you need feedback from them.


You need a quality design. This will provide you with customers because when it comes to the e-commerce applications - most of them pay attention to the picture first. And only then users begin to read the text below it.

In addition, make sure that your e-commerce application is adapted for any screen. Whether it is a frameless smartphone or an old device of the previous generation - it doesn’t matter where your customer makes a purchase from, but their comfort does.

There is another very convenient specification for e-commerce applications: flexible design. Its essence is to enter several different design patterns into the base code of the application.

That way you can foresee the holidays and the biggest sales. It will help you avoid unnecessary spending on developing new designs before Christmas, Halloween, or Black Friday.


This is easy to forget in the process. Yes, you have a beautiful picture, good prices and a convenient e-commerce application. But do not forget that there should be text behind all this. And that it should be optimized.

Hire people (or do it yourself) to create optimized product descriptions. Let them work with newsletters and social networks or a blog if needed.

Speaking of social networks. Add the “share” button to your e-commerce application. This will work in your favor when users start sending goods to friends on Facebook.

Unique features

The most important thing in an e-commerce application. What will highlight the best in your app and help you attract the client. A unique offer will set you apart from the rest and maybe even provide you with popularity.

We cannot tell you what features you need in your project. Maybe your e-commerce application needs gamification, AI, or virtual reality. However, we can advise you on some interesting features for e-commerce applications according to the industry trends.

Augmented reality

You are selling an item in an online store, and your buyer won't be able to interact with it until the sale is made. Therefore, augmented reality will be a great opportunity to take a closer look at an interesting option. Give your customer the opportunity to try on clothes or take a closer look at a new door in their house. This will not only help your client make a choice, but will make them stay in the application for longer.

And to come back later for more.


An extremely interesting feature that will attract customers to you. Enter the elements of the game into the application. This can be a collection of bonuses or the ability to interact with any functions of the e-commerce application. The main thing is to create a sense of excitement for the client, because a small child lives in each of us. The more interesting buying from you will be, the more often they will do it.

Pre-made lists

If your e-commerce application specializes in the sale of wholesale goods or sets, create ready-made lists for the customer. It's extremely comfortable! All that your client will need is to choose an option. They won’t have to scroll through a huge list of products for a long time - the client chooses a ready-made option for their situation and customizes it.

For example, let's say it's your customer birthday. All they needs to do is to choose the appropriate ready-made list, and a set of disposable tableware, balloons and candles are on the way!

To understand how it works, look on the examples of successful e-commerce applications. Their popularity is ensured not only by quality products but also by interesting features. We believe that the lion's share of a project’s success depends on what makes it stand out.

Wayfair - view home goods in 3D

E-commerce app for home improvements and decor purchases. After choosing a product, you can view its appearance in your house interior. Not only does it simplify the purchase, but overall pleases the future buyer. Isn't it inspirational to be able to look at the dream apartment?

build an e-commerce app wayfair

Boxed - premade lists of items

The e-commerce app for the wholesale purchase of products and household goods creates premade lists for the customers. This saves time in preparation for shopping. But besides, it’s simply convenient for the e-commerce applications: choose “party products”, customize the list, and just wait for the goods to be delivered.

build an e-commerce app boxed

Sephora - a virtual makeup

It's an international cosmetics company. In Sephora e-commerce application, they used a traditional function for cosmetic stores with testers... virtually! Users can try the product on their face using the augmented reality function. More than 200 million variations of lipsticks, shades, foundations make customers return to the application again and again.

build an e-commerce app boxed


Costs of developing an e-commerce application

The cost of technology is always high. By hiring an employee for full time, you will have to endure taxation and additional costs, such as sick leave and vacation. When working with freelancers, you should keep in mind that their work may be unreliable. And working with professional IT partners by default is not cheap. You can learn more about the estimate of works here.

According to our research, prices for an e-commerce application with an average set of functions on these development stages will be approximately as follows:

Keep in mind that it will take about 1800 hours to develop an e-commerce application with an average feature set.

  • development stage - 2800$ - 5600$;
  • system design stage - 22500$ - 45000$;
  • the development cost will depend on the location of your IT partner (from 20$ - 75$/hour in Eastern Europe, to US and Canadian rates of 50$ - 250$) - 90000$ - 180000$;
  • maintenance stage - 3000$ - 6000$;
  • marketing stage - from 10$ to 10000$.

You need to understand that the cost estimate in this list is approximate. No specialist will be able to assess the cost of the project without at least minimum info about it. Your IT-partner needs to know what functions in your startup should be implemented in order to assess the complexity of the work and put forward the final price.

Yes, you will have to invest in high-quality software developing, but it will really pay off later. Statistics show that by 2022, worlds revenue from retail e-commerce trade will grow to more than $ 5 trillion. And its growth will not stop there.

build an e-commerce app statistics revenue

Statistics do not lie, high-quality software is a long-term investment. And in order to get the most out of it, you need to invest in it. You will have to spend both time and financial resources on the development. However, custom IT solution will pay off with greater profit and maximum work efficiency in not so distant future.

An e-commerce application is a promising development not only today but also in the distant future. Who knows, maybe the day will come when all real-life stores will become a leftover of the past.

The main thing is to find the implementer of your technical plans. The team that provides expertise and solutions throughout the project. The team that thinks not only in terms of technology but also in terms of business logic. If you do not have a technical background, the right choice of an IT partner is your key to success.

Therefore, conquer the heights of technology without fear if your team has your back.