Top 14 Mistakes to avoid before Launching a Shopping App

May 2018

There has been over 5 million mobile apps over there for March 2017, and their number is dramatically increasing, beating the forecasts of previous years. How many of them can be considered successful?

You may have a well-thought mobile strategy, a clear idea of your app functionality and enough resources to implement it. The most common mistake is to think it’s enough.

1) Mobile strategy doesn’t fit the overall company strategy

User experience with your brand via mobile is gaining value: mobile moments happen twice more often that brand-customer interactions via any other media channels. If mobile strategy is not coordinated with the general development plan, it is hardly possible to deliver seamless brand experience. According to Forrester research: only half of marketers admitted their companies do this way.

2) Mobile app is launched for appearance’s sake

The value of mobile app for users should be high enough to make them take memory and real estate on their most personal device. While a website is something that helps solve a problem and be abandoned, a mobile app should deliver more personalized service on a regular basis. The biggest difference between a mobile website and a successful app is that the latter does everything the web does AND significantly improves both mobile and in-store experience.

To meet the responsibility associated with launching such a product, you should consider and research user cases and build an entire customer journey: from the idea to buy this item to its delivery.

Customer journey mapping has two basic aims:

  1. To define all steps in the customer journey and convert them into functions that can be added;
  2. To define which of them have greater value and can be better served by your mobile app.

Besides, it is important to apply lean supply technologies – they help add value to the product and avoid losses in every single mobile moment: every step the customer should take matters and brings certain value to their way to the final product or service.

According to Google research, people use shopping apps to retrieve account/loyalty card information and share a product with their friends or family. The same paper says people are motivated to install a shopping app by the following things:

Make sure you offer all that.

3) Mobile strategy is created without competitors’ analysis

This analysis can save time and efforts on defining the set of best practices and look for functions and offers your competitors do poorly or fail to do at all. It helps create your unique offer and differentiate yourself.

To simplify the task, you can create a spreadsheet, list there all competitor apps you found and range them from ‘very bad’ to ‘very good’. The best ones can be transferred to another spreadsheet that looks like this:

Feature Company 1 Company 2 Company 3
#1 Core feature Yes Yes Yes
#2 Core feature Yes Yes Yes
#3 Nice to have Somewhat Yes Workaround
#4 Nice to have No Yes No
#5 Core feature No No No

You can compare features, navigation, design and whatever you find valuable. The outcome of such an analysis can be presented in 4 fields:

  1. What most of your competitors offer;
  2. What your company is going to offer;
  3. What your company is NOT going to offer;
  4. What your competitive advantage is.

4) Reinventing the wheel

There are basic functions that are most popular with users of shopping apps.

Did you know that…

Google Consumer Insights report provides information of what users find most valuable about their favorite apps.

The top-3 answers are:

  1. Easy use and navigation;
  2. Vast number of products to explore;
  3. Attractive discounts and offers.

The latter is also the top reason people return to an app after uninstalling.

About 1/3 of respondents mentioned useful notifications. For most of these customers ‘useful notifications’ refer to:

  • Notifications about order status;
  • Latest offers and discounts;
  • Reduced prices for products marked as favorite.

A little bit of time spent on market statistics research can save a whole lot of time wasted on duplicating basic functions that has already been created and optimized by others.

5) Running for immense functionality right away

If you do something, do it well. Do one thing well, and then go onto the next big thing.

In the Ultimate guide to creating a mobile strategy we have already mentioned the algorithm of building a Minimum Viable Product:

  1. Write down all the functions you would like to have in this app;
  2. Select most useful ones;
  3. Implement them in your MVP;
  4. Analyze user feedback, metrics and consider your mobile strategy to define the extended functionality of your next update.

At the same time, your MVP shouldn’t look offhand: the first impression is decisive. Balance between these two points to find the best solution.

6) Using rigid Waterfall model

Planning for the entire team for the next three months can work under ideal circumstances only and, what is even more important, won’t include important adjustments that may occur in the process. In mobile development new business needs, requirements and solutions evolve quite often. It happens due to sharing experience within a team, customer studies and for other reasons.

Waterfall model cannot rapidly adapt to changing environment, while agile model can. The most effective way to develop mobile software is to use iterative approach. Our team prefers agile methodology for its flexibility, frequent communication with partners, customers and end consumers and offering more opportunities to deliver outstanding mobile experience.

7) Choosing a wrong technology stack

Cross-platform development has a few benefits: lower price and faster one-size-fits-all solution.

If you need a product with extensive functionality and customization to fit your business needs (not just an app for appearance’s sake, as mentioned above), then you should stick to native development. This is what our company offers.

We develop using Java/Kotlin for Android, and Swift for iOS. For back-end development there are a lot more options: we suggest choosing a well-tested system that is popular in technical specialists.

The optimal solution is to analyze the market: choose the technology stack and then look for development companies that offer it for reasonable prices. Feel free to consult VALFOR on technology stack. If you are interested in what we offer, we can start our partnership right away.

8) Ignoring project management tools

When tasks, discussions and messages within the team aren’t documented and have no clear structure, it can work for short-term only. But when it comes to app updates and long-term work, such a careless approach will inevitably lead to chaos. There are dozens of project management software options over there: Wrike, Asana, Jira, Clarizen, Quire, Smartsheet etc. The most difficult task is to choose the one that works best for you.

9) Underestimating the importance of UX and design

This one may seem obvious, but in practice 23% of apps are abandoned after the first use. Clunky and dysfunctional design and too complicated user experience are the top reasons. Start the interface design from carefully building wireframes and prototypes. Make it simple even for most inexperienced users due to intuitive and understandable internal structure. It can be reached with the help of:

  • “One screen – one task” rule – every screen is designed to support a single valuable action. At least stick to minimalistic design (for example, consider Uber);
  • Focus on content and remove unnecessary elements as Google Maps did;
  • Create design for one-hand operation;
  • Make navigation is comfortable as possible.
  • Most important: make sure your designer is experienced in creating mobile interfaces for iOS and Android.

When building app interface, make sure you provide feedback options: real user comments and reviews about your product can be decisive.

10) Failing to select and check Ignoring Key Performance Indicators and analytics tools

Before development it is highly important to define mobile app metrics for tracking performance and adjust analytics tools. VALFOR analysts work with the following tasks:

  • Analytical system installation and customizing necessary reports;
  • Advice on analytical tools and their features;
  • Training on the system use (optional);
  • Collected data analysis, conclusions and recommendations (optional).

We use in our work Appsflyer, Appmetrica, Amplitude, Google Analytics, Firebase and a few other services. It helps to obtain reports on:

  1. Sales – number of orders, average check, order structure;
  2. Products and categories – what items are most viewed and most frequently added to cart, view-order conversion;
  3. Customer activity and loyalty – daily and monthly active users, retention rate, new users, sign ups, rewards program participants;
  4. Promo activities – sent and received push-notifications, redeemed coupons, number of orders partially paid with coupons or bonuses, dynamics of orders after learning about promo activities in the app;
  5. Customer behavior analytics – funnel analysis for registration and placing an order;
  6. Additional metrics – data on using filters, sorting and internal app search, popular search queries.

All the app analytical data can be compared to website analytical data.

11) Failing to synchronize the app with the accounting system the proper way

In case the inventory list is synced once a day and there is only one item left, the situation can be very discouraging for customers ordering online.

Another case: loyalty program members with 15% discount cards order items with maximum 10% discount.

And one more: customers should automatically receive a gift when adding certain products to their shopping cart.

All these moments should be discussed with the development company beforehand to make mobile experience with the brand seamless. VALFOR is ready to implement customized technical solutions depending on your business needs.

12)Planning marketing activities when it’s too late

Make use of app functionality at the stage of creating mobile marketing strategy. What functions are important for your marketing? You may build in-app loyalty program with mobile discount card with QR code, issue mobile coupons or implement other ideas. Just think of them timely.

13) Testing on your own

Testing strategy should be defined during the app building process. Define the responsibilities of testing team members, consider different iOS versions and vast number of Android versions and devices. Just one serious bug missed can spoil the impression of your app. Think of sanity check: how the app will be tested once in production. Develop a well-structured test plan and choose testing modes depending on your business needs: automation tools used in QA and production environment or manual testing.

For shopping apps, it is important to keep prices regularly updated and synced with in-store database and ensure special offers and discounts are calculated correctly.

14) Ignoring production-ready and post-production planning

How will any bugs and defects be recorded, monitored and eliminated? VALFOR implements Amplitude tool, information and reviews from the App Store and Play Market, server log and user reviews in social networks to collect analytics and report on user behavior.

Do you have a roll-back plan to revert the app if necessary? What about app version control? Such solutions should be thoroughly planned.

In addition, we recommend that you receive a DUNS NUMBER in advance and register an account with Apple Developer – if you plan to release the app on behalf of the company. Also, make sure that all the necessary marketing materials for App Store and Play Market are prepared by the time of release (app description, icons and screenshots).

We have collected most common mistakes businesses (and development companies) make when building a shopping app: forewarned is forearmed. If you have more cases to share – we are glad to receive feedback from you.

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