Should You Convert Your Ecommerce Site To A Mobile App

Should You Convert Your Ecommerce Site To A Mobile App?

AJ Saunders profile picture

By on 02 Apr 24 | Filed: Digital Strategy

I'm a former ecommerce founder turned growth agency owner. When not helping our clients grow, I enjoy automating my home, dogs, and architecture.

A trend I’ve seen over the last few years is stores developing their own mobile apps. This might seem a little crazy as these ecommerce websites are already optimized for mobile devices, but there are many good reasons to convert your ecommerce site to a mobile app.


By turning your online shop into a mobile app, you can better control the user experience, collect more 1st party user data, send more tailored push notifications, and avoid the changing winds of Google and Meta updates, among other reasons.


If you don’t know where to start, this article will give you a solid introduction as we’ll cover every step in the process from feasibility and wire framing to soft launch and taking orders. So, should you convert your ecommerce site to a mobile app? Let’s find out!



Why Turn Your Shopify or Woocommerce Store Into A Mobile App?

Let’s discuss the top 7 reasons why converting your online store to a mobile app makes sense, despite the upfront investment.


Better mobile shopping experience

Experience is everything, and yet many give up control to the user’s mobile web browser! Elements could be wrongly hidden, have their location shifted, or there might be script conflicts stopping certain features from working.


Caring about the whole user experience involves investing time to ensure pages are displayed consistently across different browsers and window sizes. Having your own app is a great way to maintain greater control of what the user sees.


Also, as you don’t have to care about search engines indexing pages (or finding alternative versions), you’re free to build an experience that aligns with the customer’s expectations and not Google/Bing.


Increased loyalty and retention

Having your own mobile shop app means you have a direct line to your customers. You don’t have to pray that your email lands in the right section or their inbox (or doesn’t hit spam), nor do you need to fear Google’s and Meta’s algorithm update.


Having direct communication with your customers allows you to increase loyalty and retention by serving them with offers they’ll love and rewarding milestones, such as days on the app or birthdays.


Access to better 1st party data

Apple’s iOS 14 and later GDPR in Europe heighten the rules around user privacy. It’s now harder than ever to track data from Meta, email open rates and clicks, and more. Your app can allow you to reclaim access to some of this data.


The more data you can collect from your users (1st party data) the better as you can monitor how they use your app, their spending habits, and personalize the experience to the user.


An owned sales channel

Relying on Google, Meta, or another 3rd party to drive the bulk of your sales might not be the safest idea. All of these businesses use complex algorithms to display content that answers what users are searching for. These algorithms are constantly changing and being updated.


Google, for example, rolls out several major updates to its algorithm each year and also many minor tweaks per day. You could find that overnight, Google no longer deems that your business has value to its users, and so stops sending traffic to your store.


Amazon and Walmart are even worse. They can decide to close your account on a whim and hold on to any funds you have in your account.


Having your own mobile app, you can connect directly with your customers without having to worry about algorithms or a huge faceless corporation plugging the rug out from under you.


App store presence

Having your own app is very cool. It’s also a great way to differentiate your brand from others. Plus, you can use SEO techniques to ensure you’re visible for key phrases and terms that make it easy for users to discover you, allowing you to reach even more people.


Ease of mobile payments

A lot of friction in the checkout process comes from having to enter payment details. While methods such as PayPal make it easier, many people don’t have an account. Thankfully, services such as Google Pay or Apple Pay allow a seamless purchasing experience, as they can be easily integrated into your app.


Seamless customer care

Having to send an email from your inbox to support is more steps than the average user wants to take. So having customer support built into your app is another way to improve the customer experience. You integrate Gorgias into your app to seamlessly deal with customer support across all your marketing and sales channels.



converting webstore to mobile app



What To Consider Before Converting Webstore Into A Mobile App

Selecting features

You probably have a budget in mind to develop your mobile app. The result is having to build out the essential features first and not every little feature you’d like. That’s ok, as it allows us the space to keep developing our app and continually drive improvements.


You might only have the budget to build a simple app with very basic features, such as product pages, category pages, basic search options, and a simple checkout. 


However, it’s a good way to test the market and see if you should develop a more feature-rich app.


Cohesive user experience design

You’ll want to ensure the user experience is intuitive, even with a simple app. If you don’t, as you add more features and increase the user base, you’ll see cracks appear. Your abandon cart rate will skyrocket and so will your support inbox.


Android vs iOS

Ideally, you’d develop an app for both Android and iOS ecosystems. With a limited budget, you might only be able to select one. So you’ll need to ask your current customer base what OS they’re using and adapt your plans accordingly.


Ongoing roadmap for continued improvement

If you get the basics right, adding new features or building out existing ones is fairly simple. So, it’s good to have a roadmap of features you’d like to add that’s prioritized by return on investment. Be willing to add items to this roadmap based on user feedback and changes in the market.


As with your business, your app shouldn’t stand still and should keep evolving.



“The power of mobile apps lies in features that offer a real advantage over websites, especially for increasing retention. One of the most important features are push notifications. They inform customers about ongoing sales, new arrivals, or abandoned carts, directly influencing sales figures”, says OmniShop’s founder, Dušan Popović.



Options For Converting A Shopify Or Woocommerce Store

There are 3 ways to convert your online shop into an app. You might be able to use a plug-in, buy an off-the-shelf solution, or develop your app from scratch.


Plug-in converter

The easiest option is to use a third-party plug-in that automatically converts your store into an app. You could use Twinr’s Mobile App Builder to create an app for your Shopify or Woocommerce store. It’s easy to use, affordable and looks fantastic for the cost.


SaaS mobile app builder

You could work with a company like Tapcart (for Shopify) or OmniShop (for Woocommerce). Both can help you build a semi-customised app based on your store. They use templates to speed up the process and ensure best practices are followed.


Compared to a plug-in, using a company that can build you a mobile app using their templated system will cost more, but the outcome will be better.


Mobile app development from scratch

The final option is to find a developer who can build you a mobile app from the ground up while ensuring it syncs with your online store. The result is a highly custom piece of software that works exactly as you want it to. However, this is the most expensive way to convert your ecommerce store into a mobile app.



convert shopify woocommerce store app



What Do You Need To Get Started?

Online store

Before you can engage with an app developer or use a plugin converter, you need an online store. So, it’s best to iron out any issues you have with your online store first, as it’ll make converting it into a mobile app even easier.


Valid Google PlayStore (Android) and Apple AppStore (iOS) account

You’ll all need valid accounts on the Google PlayStore and Apple AppStore. Neither is difficult to set up, but you’ll need to comply with the policies and guidelines of the app stores. 



How To Convert An Ecommerce Store To An App

You should now see the value of converting your ecommerce site to a mobile app and have a basic understanding of what’s required. Here is a simple checklist to get you started.


Step 1: Prepare features list

You probably can’t build an app with every feature you’d like. So, you need to start with a list of features you need to get off the ground. Yes, have a master list that can act as a roadmap, but think about launching a minimum viable product. 


Step 2: Create an intuitive UI/UX design

Consider how the user will want to use your app, what it will look like, and how it might function. To start with, create a simplified user experience that’s intuitive to use.


Step 3: Start the app development process

Buy a conversion plugin or hire an app developer to start converting your store into a mobile app. With a developer, you’ll need to agree on a budget, time frame, and features list.


Step 4: Test your app

Now for the fun part. Once you have your app, you’ll want to test it and check it works as expected. Try placing dummy orders and test every feature.


Step 5: Soft launch your app

Don’t just launch your app! Instead, offer it to a few trusted clients who can give you feedback after testing it out. You might want to give them an exclusive product or experience or a small discount as a thank you for helping.


Step 6: Launch your app and profit!

After testing your mobile store app yourself, and with trusted clients, you launch it to the big wide world! You can promote your app using email, social media, and even with a flyer in your parcels.

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