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Major Faux Pas of Native eCommerce Apps

So you have a native eCommerce app… Great! But that’s just the beginning. A successful native eCommerce app depends on a positive user experience, solid marketing, and effective communication. Here are 5 Common Mistakes some eCommerce retailers make in their native apps.

A successful native eCommerce app depends on a positive user experience, solid marketing, and effective communication. Click To Tweet

Keeping the User Experience the Same as on the Desktop Platform

The mobile experience isn’t the same as the desktop experience. And it shouldn’t be! Sure, all of your platforms should have a consistent design, theme, and voice, but the content shouldn’t be identical.

Many eCommerce retailers make the mistake of creating native eCommerce apps that are too similar to the desktop platform. In fact, they basically just look like smaller versions of the desktop platform. They aim to offer the exact same experience, but on a smaller screen, and that’s a mistake. Because the mobile experience isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the same as the desktop experience.

Mobile is a different platform. Tens of millions of people in the United States have smartphones. Why? Because the mobile experience offers users something the desktop experience can’t. Smartphone users enjoy the convenience and simplicity of that mobile experience.

So, creating your native eCommerce app should account for this unique experience. The native app user has different expectations because they’re likely in a different environment than a desktop user. They may be working. They may be walking. They may in a restaurant only half listening to a friend’s conversation. And because users may be in public or multitasking, they often want a simpler, more convenient experience on native eCommerce apps. So streamline the available options!

Even so, many native apps are still nearly unusable because they mirror the desktop platform too closely. Remember, you have less screen space with your native app than you do on a desktop platform, so real estate becomes a real consideration. You can’t just force the same content from your desktop platform to your native app. That would likely result in too much text. The text would be too small. The buttons and fields wouldn’t be intuitive. Instead, you need to consider if your font is legible and if the buttons are big enough that a user’s finger can click on them.

Also, mobile users open native eCommerce apps for a specific reason. They usually have an idea of what they’re looking for, which means the experience can be more focused and more tailored to the user’s pursuit. One good way to mitigate this is to quickly offer them what they’re looking for with a strong search function. This allows customers to find the product they’re looking for easily rather than relying on a complex navigation menu on mobile.

Likewise, the app user might return to the app several times throughout the day, week, etc. Tailor the shopping experience to the user with a ‘remember me’ feature that highlights the products that your customers viewed the last time they shopped, right on the homepage helps them get what they want quickly and provides a good user experience.

In fact, this type of user experience is one of the primary reasons a shopper might choose to use a native eCommerce rather than the desktop platform. It’s often faster and easier to navigate. Take check out, for instance. If your app includes the ability to check out in a more streamlined way, for instance with Apple Pay, you give users an experience they simply cannot have on a desktop. Whereas, if your native eCommerce app’s experience exactly mirrors the experience of using the desktop platform, users may be missing out on the convenience of the mobile platform entirely.

Want to make your app even better? Download our quick guide to create an awesome native eCommerce app!

Forgetting to Build a Marketing Plan for Your App

You have a great native eCommerce app that is stylish, easy to navigate, and engages users… but do they know about it? Let them know. Don’t forget to market your app!

One serious mistake you can make is to build a great native eCommerce app but fail to market it well. How can you reach users without a solid marketing strategy? Sure, users sometimes download apps based on word of mouth (and that is one of the most powerful references), but a good marketing strategy is integral to the future of your native eCommerce app.

You can market your native eCommerce app on your website and through direct marketing campaigns, for example. While your website probably shouldn’t be a giant ad, your customers should still know that there’s a personalized, streamlined native eCommerce app that they can download. Make it easy for them to find it by simply letting them know.

Screenshots and video previews can help to sell your native app as well. (Remember, actual screenshots can be powerful and persuasive because they are previewed in search results.) Also, your native eCommerce app’s icon is worth a thousand words, so spend time workshopping different designs and colorways. Ask people what they like the most. It will likely help you find the icon that’s best suited to your company’s retail experience.

Finally, your native eCommerce app should be an important piece of your entire company’s marketing, not simply an afterthought. Set clear goals for your app (but be ready change your strategy as circumstances require). Be sure to promote the native app on your desktop and mobile platforms (and on other sites if that’s an option). Mention your app in the email receipts when customers make purchases from a desktop. These actions can increase the likelihood that users take advantage of your native eCommerce app.

Ready to stop making mistakes and make your app even better? Download our quick guide to create an awesome native eCommerce app!

Not Doing Your Part to Bring People Back to Your App

Getting users to download your native eCommerce app is only half the battle. You have to keep them coming back. Click To Tweet

Send users reminders about your native eCommerce app with push notifications. Push notifications go to users’ devices even when they’re not in the app. They are a great tool to re-engage people who haven’t used your app recently, not matter how long.

In-app messaging can engage users, too. In-app messages can be used prompt users to rate your app or notify them about new products, options, sales, or price changes. They could also incentivize the user to give you feedback on their experience. These messages let you communicate with your users when they’re using your app. That means you’re their primary focus.

Again, native eCommerce apps by nature are personal. And that is a significant source of the app’s efficacy. The user has sought them out and personally downloaded them. They’re literally designed to suit the user’s specific device, be it Android or iOS (or something else). And because users carry their smartphones or devices around in their pockets or purses all day, they’re basically carrying your native app around with them all the time. So take appropriate advantage of this intimacy by keeping the user engaged personally.

Remember, users, spend so much time on their smartphones and devices using native apps. So native apps are perfectly suited to engage users in a personal way. Again, take appropriate advantage of user engagement with in-app messaging, push notifications, individualization, and more.

Neglecting Your User Base’s Wants & Needs

Customers are always right, right? Well, maybe not always, but it is vital to listen to them.

Learn from your users so you can give them a better experience while they shop for products. The more you learn, the better you can make their experience. In fact, this is one of the mobile platform’s great powers — how personal it is. Once your native app is installed on a user’s device, they have you in their pocket. It becomes a win-win: you get to know your user and they get a better experience. Again, the more you learn from your users, the better you can make their experience on your native eCommerce app.

So use this opportunity to stay connected. Engage your target audience and talk to them. Give them a way to talk to you, ask questions, tell you which products they enjoy, or offer feedback about what doesn’t work for them.

Consumers are increasingly in contact with retailers. (Social media is a big part of that!) Users are always ready to voice concerns, ask questions, and offer suggestions when they use native apps. If you don’t create a space for communication, appreciation, and feedback on your native eCommerce app, users may get frustrated. This can make a company look like it isn’t willing to listen to users’ concerns and about potential issues.

Some retailers might consider a feature that allows for in-app communication and feedback. That way you can listen to your users before a question becomes a concern or a problem. (If you aren’t able to do this, there may be services that can do it for you.)

There are several ways to help users discover and understand your app. Focus on what those different areas are so that your users can better understand your product. Descriptions in app stores are a good option but don’t forget about your native eCommerce app’s title, and its description, as well as keywords for finding it.

Sometimes it seems like only unhappy users leave reviews. So finding ways to encourage positive comments and reviews can lead to increased downloads. Positive comments and feedback are ways to start generating that word-of-mouth marketing too. Ask users to rate your app and say what they liked about a certain element.

Just don’t limit your ability to communicate with users about their experience with your native eCommerce app. That said, allow users to turn push notifications on and off easily if they want. (And, if necessary, be aware of different time zones when you send push notifications.)

Ready to stop making mistakes and make your app even better? Download our quick guide to create an awesome native eCommerce app!

Not Getter User Feedback or Making Necessary Updates

Users are called users for a reason. They use and engage with your app, so they have a good idea of what’s working and what isn’t. Use them as a resource to understand how your app is working and what should change.

That is to say, once you’ve created your app, marketed it, users have downloaded it, used it to shop for some products, etc., there’s still work to do. Your app will need regular improvements and updates in line with user feedback and may need to adapt to their preferences. You can include new features, eliminate redundant ones, and improve existing options that your users find troublesome.

Listening to your users is an excellent way to know which features of your native eCommerce app need attention.

Also, be sure to make room (so to speak) for scalability. Your native app will need to evolve at some point. So don’t just plan for the present. Instead, plan for the present, future, and beyond.

Likewise, sometimes it seems like only unhappy users leave reviews, so create easy ways for your users to say thanks. Finding ways these ways to encourage positive comments and reviews can lead to more users downloading your native eCommerce app. Positive comments and feedback are a good way to start generating that word-of-mouth marketing too.

Without this type of pre-planning, you can get stuck consistently making changes from scratch — always avoid double duty whenever possible.

Again, some retailers might consider a feature that allows for in-app communication and feedback. That way you can listen to your users before a question becomes a concern or a problem.

Remember… launching your native eCommerce app is just the beginning.

Be sure the experience is tailored to the native app user and doesn’t just mirror the desktop platform.

Make sure users know about your native eCommerce app by creating a marketing plan for it! (No matter how stylish, easy to navigate, and engaging your native eCommerce app is, users still need to know about it, or you won’t make many sales.)

Bring users back to your app with push notifications and messaging.

Be sure your app is suited to the mobile user’s needs.

Encourage those users to communicate their questions and concerns to you (and especially their positive experiences) and use that feedback to improve your native eCommerce app and increase their positive overall experience.

Author: Emily Gomez & Einar Vollset, Corresponding Author:


For each teardown we collect over 200 data points, including UX best practices, search capabilities, payment integrations as well as re-engagement tactics and social/engagement features. Each teardown includes an overall score, along with the score for each of the 20+ categories we collect data under. We then provides either video and/or slideshow content of the actual app, highlighting important parts of the app along with particularly good, bad or surprising functionality.