How Much Does It Cost To Build An eCommerce Mobile App?

By Syed Osama

January 10, 2024   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

How Much Does It Cost To Build An eCommerce Mobile App?

The higher you pay for app development, the more feature-packed your app becomes, the better it performs and the more money it generates – considering your choice of resources.

Building onto this narrative, your app is what you pay for. The statement holds 100% true depending on your business model, the features you wish to add, your desired development platform, the complexity of your app, its potential users, and the design specifications.

Your basic eCommerce app can cost you anywhere between $5,000 – $30,000 depending on certain factors, features and platforms. When you go for an intermediate app with filters, guest checkouts, and personalized recommendations, the app development cost will be $35,000 – 80,000. And a feature-packed, advanced app will cost more than $85,000.

To make things easier, here is a detailed guide on the subject to help you with estimating the projected cost of your eCommerce app and managing it so the app remains under your projected budget.

Ecommerce App Development Cost: 7 Factors To Consider

When estimating project prices and preparing proposals, app development companies usually consider the following 7 factors. These factors are important to consider because they will heavily impact your overall app development budget.

1. Purpose of the App

Your core purpose behind app development is one of the biggest contributors that establish the primary cost of the app. Ask yourself what you want to do with your eCommerce app.

  • Is it a delivery solution for users in a specific niche?
  • Do you intend to solve an online shopping problem or fill a market gap?
  • Do you just want an online store replicating an existing app?

Know that the purpose of your app is a combination of your target users, the problem you want to solve, the objectives behind developing this eCommerce app, and the app deliverables. The bigger the purpose, the higher the average app development cost.

2. Features of an eCommerce App

The more advanced features your eCommerce app has, the higher the cost goes. As for eCommerce especially, here are the basic, intermediate, and advanced level features that impact the costs of app development

Any eCommerce MVP will have the first set of features, the basic ones as you can see in the chart above. If it is a shopping app, it will require users to create profiles, and add products to the cart, while allowing them to check delivery status and make online payments.

The other set, the intermediate, are added features which boost the overall shopping experience. The third set as you see, are the most advanced features that only a few eCommerce apps have until now and they are winning too because they provide a shopping experience matchable to in-store shopping. Reward programs improve brand loyalty and product reviews with social media integration to help retailers acquire new customers.

3. Development Hours Required

Development hours have a direct relation with the app features and so with the cost of the app. In simple words, the more hours development teams will take to code your app, the higher the project cost will be.

For example: if you want to allow your users to add products to the cart even in the offline mode, it will have a cost. Similarly, if you want to allow your users to share their products on social media (which you definitely should integrate into your app), the cost goes up.

Most importantly, these hours formulate the primary timelines of app development. While you can’t altogether reduce the number of hours, you can manage your app development project’s timeline, more on this in the later section of the article.


4. Initial Design: wireframing and prototyping

If your initial app designs are simple, yet detailed in terms of your requirements, you will get an accurate estimate of the app development cost once and for all.

With an app’s wireframing and prototyping done right, you won’t have to ask for a lot of changes or additions in your shopping app’s UI or UX. This way, users do save the additional cost that they would pay otherwise during the stages of testing or improvisation.

Bonus: Hire one team to manage your overall app development project, rather than assign different tasks to different design, development, and testing teams. This way, you can manage the base cost (either with hourly rates or contract prices) and the time required for coordination and transition.


5. Development platform

Native apps are dedicated to one digital platform, let’s say Android smartphones. Cross-platform apps are one-size-fits-all types of applications that work on multiple operating systems.

As for the cost, native mobile apps are seemingly cheaper in the short run but then only limited users with that specific operating system will be able to use your eCommerce app. Later, you’ll either have to rest with the limited no. of shoppers or would have to get another application developed to acquire new users.

Cross-platform app development, though, is pricey in the beginning but think of it as a package: you get one app that caters to all potential users with different devices.


6. App updates and maintenance

Updates address system vulnerabilities, keep the apps bug-free and contribute to an app’s overall usability. Plus, apps do require regular maintenance and technical support, simply to keep users from ‘uninstalling’ them.

The maintenance usually counts for app audits, licenses, patents, and hosting services. More the maintenance components, the higher the maintenance cost. According to Clutch, app maintenance can cost 28% of the total app development cost in the first year and can go as low as 15% in later years.

After maintenance, marketing an app also has a cost but we are not counting it in the breakdown to estimate the closest range for initial app development.


7. Monetization strategy

App development agencies usually have business analysts on board to evaluate the app idea and weigh it against the proposed monetization strategy. So, logically, if your app idea is unique and made to generate high revenues in long run, it will have high average costs.

Think of an online shopping store selling digital products (websites, wireframes, premade logos, themes, vector icons, digital artwork, online planners). This is already a booming market and if you further integrate this eCommerce app with blockchain-based transaction systems, the revenues can shoot up if you market your business well. Since the monetization strategy is promising, the costs would be high.


How to Manage Your eCommerce App Development Project in Limited Time and Budget

Here are 5 steps you can take to manage the app development costs and time.

1. Create a mobile app business plan and decide on time and budget – beforehand.

A mobile app business plan is important as it helps you manage your overall project, but it becomes all the more essential as it helps you stay rigid on timelines.

Before you approach an app development company, especially if you are in Dubai, prepare a business plan, layout your maximum budget (primary and additional costs you can afford), your projected revenue, and a deadline on which you wish to launch the app on app stores.


2. Hire app development team wisely.

You can choose to outsource your app development project at an upfront cost or hire teams on hourly rates or monthly contracts.
If it is an app with basic features and doesn’t want original designs or prototypes, hire a team at an upfront cost. Give them a popular app’s reference, decide on a color palette, theme, logo and get your app within 5 months, testing and QA included.

If you want advanced features, outsourcing app development resources on monthly contracts are a better idea than hourly rates.

The second important consideration is the location of your app development team. If you can find one in your local area (plus point if they have served international clients), check their portfolio and reviews on websites like Clutch, make a direct call, talk to their project managers and if you feel satisfied, go ahead!

Hiring local app developers gives you an edge with time zones and you can communicate as and when you want, which brings us to our third point.


3. Provide detailed app requirements.

Right from wireframes to testing, clearly lay out your objectives and expectations. This will not only help you manage the costs of your eCommerce app but also help project managers and developers in preparing an app that meets your set standards and quality.
In case of providing incomplete requirements, you might have to add features later, which can increase the cost of your app and disturb your budget.


4. Discuss your expectations with project managers – orally.

Only providing a business plan or questionnaire with relevant details is not enough. Make sure to talk about your expectations on call before signing a contract. Such calls with potential project managers are usually free.

This exchange of information can improve the discovery stage and you might get a lot of valuable ideas (about features, user experience or monetization strategies) that did not hit you previously.


5. Communicate regularly.

Firstly, your app developers, whether it’s a local team or international, should be approachable at least during 10 business hours (better if they are available round the clock).

If yes, follow your initially decided project timelines to the letter and keep taking regular updates about the progress of your app development projects. Whatever stage you are on, whether designing or testing, keep a keen eye and take regular feedback so you can improve in time and don’t have to make a lot of changes after the testing phase.

Wrapping Up

If you are here, you probably have a unique retail business idea and currently estimating the costs of app development and planning your app project. Before starting a project, ensure the right planning, and clearly communicate your project requirements for a robust app that’s user-centric and fully functional.

Syed Osama

Syed Osama is a tech enthusiast and content strategist at Tekrevol. He loves breaking down complex development related topics into simple explanations for non-tech entrepreneurs and appreneurs. Her favorite niches are digital marketing, Android App development, recombinant innovation, design thinking, cybersecurity and disruptive technologies.

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