How to Create a Retail App for Your Business? [Steps, Features, Price]

5629 Updated 08.15.2023
Vasyl Polych

Founder & CEO at Northell


Table of contents

Retail giants often cannot grasp how their chain is performing to the full extent. They typically have hundreds of stores, each of different efficiency. As a result, there is a high chance to overlook the demand for certain goods within a vast chain. 

Keep in mind that smaller businesses do not struggle less. They have to compete with both giants and their fellow small retailers. 

Whether your business is large or small, your competitors wait for you to make a mistake. They provide goods you don’t. You lose your customers to your competitor in a blink of an eye. 

How to address this problem? The answer is technology. Build a retail app that will be beneficial for your users and gather insights to make informed business decisions.

How to create a retail app? Let’s discover together.  But first, let’s find out what a retail app is. 

What is a Retail App?

A retail app is a software that matches sellers and buyers within a single platform, preferably a mobile application. If you choose to create your own shopping app, you will be able to enjoy a wide range of benefits, including enhanced user experience, thus winning new audiences, gathering essential insights on your users’ behavior, customizing their purchases, and growing your revenue. We will dwell more on this topic later in the article. 

Retail applications offer a new, more innovative, and more effective shopping experience for sellers and buyers. 

Now, let’s take a look at some stats that prove that you should create a shopping app. The online retail market is growing exponentially. In the USA alone, this market has increased by eight times in 2013-2020. According to Statista, the market that amounted to $41.7B in 2013 has reached $338B in 2020. And the growth continues, so businesses that don’t sell goods online risk becoming non-compatible soon. 

We don’t mean to intimidate you, though. If you wonder how to create a retail app or make your own shopping app, you will experience a wide range of benefits that will help your business grow and flourish.

Let’s scrutinize these benefits. 

Why Do You Need to Create Your Own Shopping App?

There are many ways how technology can help your business grow. However, in this article, we will focus on the most critical ones.  

The Ability to Increase Business Growth Potential

Going online is probably the most viable way of going global. If you build a retail app, you will grow your revenue, engage new audiences, establish a market presence in more countries and gain trust. All these factors contribute to the overall growth of your business. 

The Way to Engage New Audiences

As mentioned above, shopping apps create a unique ability to engage new audiences without solid marketing campaigns. How come? First of all, if you make your own shopping app, there is a higher chance to win over Gen Z users, who perceive the world through their smartphones. Also, many people lack the time or just want to go to offline stores. Some people are afraid of COVID-19, so they choose to avoid crowds. 

Still, these very people are solvent and want to shop. So, if you offer them a high service quality, they are likely to become your loyal customers. 

Taking The Quality of Your Services to A New Level

Service quality is critical for any business, and online retail is no exception. If you wonder how to create a retail app successfully, the answer is to provide a smooth user experience. If your app is responsive, well-designed, and user-friendly, you can take your services to the next level.

What’s more, if you integrate technologies like big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence into your retail app, you will be able to indicate the behavior patterns of your users. Thus, you will be able to predict an increased demand for certain goods (e.g., candy before Halloween) and ensure their availability.  Also, knowing these patterns, you will be able to provide a more customized user experience that builds trust. 

Boosting The Availability of Your Business

As compared to offline retail, online is much more accessible. Your users are not limited to a single location, and they can access your assortment with their fingertips. However, there are still some limitations. For instance, shipping systems in different countries work differently, stick to different regulations, etc. 

So, take your time to figure out how to ensure a smooth delivery process to establish your position as a trusted shopping app when you create your own shopping app. 

Gaining Clients’ Trust

Though online shopping is gaining more and more popularity, there are many people who are afraid to purchase goods on the Internet. They are largely concerned with security threats and hesitate to fill in the billing details. So, you have to do everything possible to gain the reputation of a trusted retailer. 

However, if you maintain the high security of payments and provide quality services, building a retail app is an excellent way to gain trust in the retail market.   

A New Way of Communication

Tone of voice is an integral part of any mobile application. It may allure new users, communicate your values, and guide your users within your shopping app. So, if you create a shopping app, it is a good idea to take your time and think about what you want to communicate with your application.

So, if you build a retail app, you may experience a wide range of benefits. But is it really that important to splurge on custom applications? Or will a ready-made solution do? Let’s investigate. 

Custom Retail App or Ready-made Solution

Custom Retail App: Pros & Cons

Custom applications are typically more profitable for your business. And here is why. Implementation of custom solutions provides you with the flexibility to choose the exact features you need. You get to choose your partner to work with based on your budget, timeline, and needs. So, it is a good idea to create a shopping app that will be custom.

What pros and cons do we get with this option?


  • Uniqueness;
  • Flexibility;
  • Ability to innovate;


  • Price.

Ready-made Solution: Pros & Cons

We will not lie to you, telling you that it is impossible to have a somewhat successful business using a ready-made solution. However, if you use the ready-made templates, you risk becoming one of the millions of similar retail applications. And you want to be unique and authentic.

Implementing the desired functionality and a certain quality of services with out-of-box solutions is way more challenging. 

What pros and cons do we get with this option?


  • Speed;
  • Price;


  • Lack of uniqueness;
  • Lack of flexibility;
  • It is hardly possible to scale your ready-made solution;
  • Low extent of innovation. 

How to Create Your Own Shopping App: The Whole Process


How to Create Your Own Shopping App

According to the Northell experience, there are eight vital steps of how to create a retail app successfully. They are:

1. Select Your App Development Partner

Here is the checklist of things to consider before signing a contract with a specific provider that can help you create a shopping app. 

  • Check the portfolio of your partner to be;
  • Browse the customer reviews and testimonials;
  • Pay attention to the industries they serve.

Northell provides an entire life-cycle of software development services, along with design and testing services. What’s more, we have extensive expertise in eCommerce, so we can help you create a shopping app promptly and effectively. 

2. Write a Project Plan & Requirements

If you want to successfully build a retail app, it is vital to describe your problems and visions clearly. Doing so makes sure that your vendor knows what you expect from them. Without precise requirements, your team will not make your own shopping app that will help you succeed.

Usually, the document with requirements to create a shopping app includes a project overview, your needs and goals, your target audience, the features set you need, recommendations, references, prohibitions, and more. 

Learn more about writing project requirements

When you build a retail app, dedicate some time to develop precise project requirements. 

The vital aspects you should include are: 

  • the overview of your project;
  • your business goals;
  • time and budget constraints;
  • competitor analysis;
  • target audience;
  • needs of your end-users;
  • features you would like to implement;
  • market standards (e.g., legal regulations) that should be considered.

3. Start Product Discovery

There are different approaches to product discovery, but we will focus on the activities we perform at Northell. Our experts research the market carefully and conduct a competitor and target audience analysis.



What’s more, it is vital for us to identify business, users, and discovery goals, create user stories and customer journey maps during this stage. All these steps help to grasp the information about the desired product, the market it will operate on, its target audience, and more.

4.  Start to Build a UX Design

When you create a shopping app, it is critical to make sure that the goals of your UX are set clear. Once you have the required information, it’s time to begin the shopping app creation. The key activities Northell can help you with at this stage are:

  • sketching your ideas;
  • developing prototypes;
  • gathering user input;
  • make design decisions.

Based on the concept of the application and its design, we prepare a roadmap to start the UX design process when we help you create your own shopping app. During this stage, we make the information architecture and wireframes.

5. Start UI Design

Continue with the UI when the UX design is ready and tested. Consistency is the most vital aspect of the UI design stage. Northell experts will ensure that all interface elements will be consistent. 

6. Do a User Testing

The testing stage allows bringing the prototype to a perfect state. There are three key stages of testing: interview the focus groups, assessment research, and usability reports. 

One of the bright examples of user experience testing is the Northell UX Lab. The user in our lab gets a prototype. Eye-tracking equipment captures how a user acts when interacting with the product. After that, the system displays the information, which allows comparing the data of actual use and analytics. Based on this, the product will be adjusted to boost its usability.

Such an approach to user testing will help you create a shopping app that will be user-friendly. 

7. How to Create Your Own Shopping App: Streamline a Development Process [SDLC]

The development stage is probably the most critical when it comes to shopping app creation. It is a comprehensive process that requires many different activities. We at Northell do it as follows:

Preparing Product Technical Documentation

During this stage, we collect all the information from the client and develop a product according to expectations and requirements. The teams write technical documentation and choose technical stacks.

At this stage, the team should also define the requirements for functionality and user roles and finalize the estimate and the work scope.


When you build a retail app, the very development stage works like an orchestra where different professionals work together to ensure smooth delivery. Yes, front-end developers are responsible for the client-side of the application. Back-end developers are accountable for API and database development. DevOps team working on the CI/CD process. 


During this stage of shopping app creation, QA engineers test all delivered code and write automated tests for developed components. 

Deployment & Integration

After the development and regression testing from the QA team, the tested version of the software is delivered to the users for beta testing. The team also collects user feedback, fixes bugs, and implements enhancements. 


After the deployment of a product comes the maintenance stage. If any issue comes up and needs to be fixed, if something is to be improved – the development team is responsible for all these activities at this stage. 

8. Launch

Now is the time for the market to see your retail app! The product launch process should be carried out systematically. These are the key steps to a successful product launch process:

  • Target audience identifying;
  • Unique product packaging creation;
  • Slogan and timeline creation;
  • Competitors analysis;
  • Customer onboarding creation;
  • Website creation;
  • Advertising.

Northell experts know how to solve a bunch of different problems for our customers.

Also, we do know what features will make your own shopping app successful. Let’s take a look together.

Northell Experience: How Can We Help You?

Why choose Northell

Why choose Northell


Northell has long-standing experience helping our clients deliver successful projects.  Our team of skilled designers, developers, project managers, business analysts, solution architects, and other professionals will help you create a shopping app successfully. 

Northell team guides B2B and B2C companies throughout their digitalization journeys. We craft solutions that help businesses to accelerate their growth. We have successfully delivered 155+ projects, including e-commerces, and helped clients from 45+ countries worldwide.

For instance, we partnered with Needl – a platform that creates business opportunities (leads) between buyers and sellers. It is currently working in the FMCG retail market (food, drinks, beauty) and is focused on reaching a good product-market fit.

The partner came to us with the platform was not aligned to Needl product new positioning (messages, graphics), and he was gaining to make the design elegant, modern, and professional. Apart from that we were responsible for the development of new application sections. 

Our approach to the project was quite comprehensive. We have refreshed the logo and design system according to current trends and developed the key industry features.

We developed more user-friendly navigation and updated the UI/UX of the dashboard for two personas. Also, we delivered new features. Tech Stack: Swift / Kotlin

As a result, we helped with aligning Needl’s positioning.

Retail App Features in 2023

In this section, we will focus on more elaborate features that will help you build a retail app successfully. You surely need features, such as search, filters, goods categories, adding a bank card, etc., but we will not dwell on these basics here. 

Personal account

You have to provide the ability to sign up to your shopping app. The user should be able to fill in the personal information, add credit cards, view personal offerings, etc. Also, it is a good idea to add the purchasing history to this section. 

Check out

Secure check out must be a priority of any retail app. So, make sure to integrate a secure payment system (e.g., PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc. ) to your application to make payments both convenient and safe. 

Smart filters

Smart filters show your customers the right results with the instant search dropdown. You have everything to prompt visitors to make a purchase right from the search bar. For instance, you can add automatic instant suggestions, spell check and auto-correction results in products, categories and pages product previews and live prices, in-stock status, ratings, “Did you mean” suggestions, as well as synonyms instead of “no results page”.


It is a good idea to offer some assistance. For instance, you can provide chatbots to help your customers select goods that are the best fit for them or learn if they are available at the moment. 

Reminder and notification system

There are many goods that require constant supply. However, for many people it is difficult to keep track of all the needed purchases. So, it is a good idea to help them and send notifications on the new offerings, new admissions, etc.

Discount system

Building a loyal customer base should be among your top priorities. So, personal offerings, special discounts, promo codes for active users are all ways that will help you broaden the user network of your own shopping app.


Virtual and augmented reality are conquering the retail market. For instance, these technologies are widely used on platforms that sell clothing. AR and VR help your customers understand how a certain product will look like real-life and understand whether it suits them.  

Things You Need to Know Before Creating a Retail App

There must be a proper team

To create your own shopping app that has the potential to succeed, you need an experienced team. Yes, effective project delivery takes teamwork in this case. Shopping app creation requires: 

  • software developers that work on code;
  • designers that make your own shopping app look great;
  • testers that are responsible for the code quality;
  • project manager that manages the tasks;
  • business analyst to understand the market state and needs. 

Marketing Strategy is Also Important

Shopping app creation makes only half of your business success. The rest is smart marketing strategy and promotion. With your marketing campaigns, you have to build the user’s confidence in your product. 

You should pay close attention to three main aspects of marketing:

  • how much you spend on marketing;
  • professionals that perform marketing activities (their seniority level and performance);
  • how efficient is your business model.  

Also, the success of your business’ organic growth depends heavily on your content-based marketing. If you do not have a website or the website has no information about your product – here is your sign to start working on that. 

Shopping app creation with an outsourcing vendor is a viable choice

According to different sources, outsourcing building a retail app can save from 30 to 60% of your budget. So, many businesses choose to do it for the sake of cost optimization. 

But how much does it really cost? Let’s find out. 

How Much Does Retail App Cost?

Like any other field, the prices for mobile app development and design vary among regions, as they heavily depend on the cost of living there. Apart, the price depends on the seniority level of the task performers, workload, the difficulty of a task, and a range of other factors. 

There are three most popular outsourcing destinations: Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Each of these locations has its peculiarities, and prices there are different. Let’s see how much does it cost to build a retail app with vendors from these destinations. 

Cost to make your own shopping app: Eastern Europe

The cost to build a retail app in Eastern Europe depends on the country. Yes, rates of Ukrainian mobile app developers are lower than those in Poland or Romania. Generally, the lower cost of living in the country is – the lower the rates are. So, we recommend taking the cost of living index by Numbeo to the account. 

Prices for mobile app development based on seniority level in Eastern Europe

When it comes to the seniority level of the local professionals, the rate of a junior mobile app developer is around $35 per hour, while hiring a senior will cost you about $50 per hour. 

Cost to create a shopping app: Asia

If you’re searching for a mobile app developer in Asia, rates here amount to $10-$15 for a junior mobile app developer and $20-30 for a senior mobile app developer. 

Although the rates in Asia are the lowest in the global labor market, the region lags behind others in terms of digital adoption and the quality of the Internet. These factors may hamper your cooperation with developers based in Asia, so keep this fact in mind. 

Cost to build a retail app: Latin America

One of the key factors that drive businesses (mainly US-based) to outsource mobile app development to Latin America is geographical proximity and little time difference. 

If you choose to hire a junior mobile app developer in Mexico, Argentina, or other Latin American countries, prepare to spend from $30 per hour for junior professionals to $50 per hour for senior mobile app developers. 

Prices for mobile app development by project size

Typically, we distinguish startup-, middle-, and enterprise-level projects according to their complexity. 

The cost to develop an application also depends on your project’s size. Small or startup-level projects require less time to develop, fewer professionals involved, and, thus, are less expensive. On average, startup-level projects take around 150 hours to develop. 

Project timeline

Like the cost, timing is also influenced by the size of your company, the complexity of your app, the seniority of your team, etc. However, even the least complex projects are time-consuming. So, it is in your best interest to find skilled professionals to work with to make this process as time-efficient as possible. 

Mobile app development cost depends primarily on the time you spend on the actual development, so knowing the timing will help you estimate your project cost. 

Final thoughts

How to create your own shopping app successfully? It requires many stages and comes hand in hand with some challenges.

You need a strong team of designers, developers, sales managers, analysts, and many other specialists. This path, however, gets more manageable if you partner with a reliable provider

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