mobile app for online shopping on iOS

How to Build an Online Shopping App for iOS

Estimated read time: 9 minutes

Are you wondering how to build an online shopping app for iOS?

Given just how much the average iOS user spends on in-app purchases compared to their Android mobile device counterpart, this is a smart decision.

According to a recent report, ‘State Of In-App Spending’, “iOS users spend about 2.5 times more money than their Android counterparts.”

Besides all the money that your app stands to make from iOS users, the Apple platform is a stable and well-defined environment in which to build mobile apps.

Let’s see how to build an online shopping app for the iOS platform successfully.

What features your mobile shopping app should have?

Obviously, you want the mobile app to provide all the same features as your eCommerce website. However, it‘s not always the best solution. You should consider things like simplicity, personalization, onboarding, etc. Let‘s look at them in more detail:

  • Only the necessary features
    A mobile shopping app shouldn‘t have all the features of your online store, but just the most important ones, the ones which help your customers discover a set of interesting goods, select the best ones, and purchase them with the least hassle. So, you will need registration, profile, catalog of goods, search engine feature, a page for every item, chatbot, shopping cart, checkout, and a payment gateway for cards and other payment options including, PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, etc.
  • Mobile shopping personalization
    The use of artificial intelligence technologies allows you to facilitate user customization and personalization and make it as user-friendly as possible. For example, you can analyze which pages they previously visited in your mobile shopping app and offer new products that are similar, merging them with trends and pricing considerations, etc. In addition, you can analyze data from public sources and based on your customers‘ social profiles, automatically show them exactly what they want to see.
  • Simple onboarding
    Help your customers start using your mobile online store app in the most efficient way. Implement a Facebook login and provide them with the least number of steps to find what they need and purchase it.
  • Engage with your customers regularly
    Once your app is in the pockets of your customers, don‘t fall into the trap of annoying push notifications. Instead, engage with them regularly, maybe once a week or month, with meaningful special offers and recommendations for holiday seasons. Customer support is a pillar of all successful eCommerce apps.
  • Statistics and analytics
    You should measure everything your customers do on your mobile shopping app. Information about pages they visit, the time they spend on each of them, purchases they make, and other important metrics will allow you to not only improve your mobile app shopping experience but even build a self-educating system that will suggest improvements to your mobile app.

Plan for the mobile backend when you create an online shopping app

You want to focus on the front-end and business logic. You need help with the mobile backend. I recommend that you use a “Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service” (MBaaS) platform so that you don’t need to spend time building and managing the backend.

Use AWS Amplify, i.e., the MBaaS platform from AWS. As I have explained in “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?”, MBaaS platforms offer many advantages, e.g.:

  • They manage the cloud infrastructure and persistent storage. You can save time from backend development and management.
  • You can easily integrate APIs, moreover, you can scale your mobile app easily.
  • You will find it easy to implement features like “push notifications”, user management, etc.

Plan to secure your online shopping app

Your online shopping mobile application on iOS will process sensitive personal information including payment details. You need to proactively plan to secure it. Do the following:


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  • Include security and compliance testing in your CI/CD pipeline proactively. Don’t leave them as the very last items in your project plan!
  • Proactively mitigate application security vulnerabilities like SQL injection, broken authentication, etc.
  • Develop a native iOS app using a modern programming language like Swift. Native apps not only offer the best performance and “user experience” (UX), but they are also more secure. As I explained in our guide “How to migrate your Objective-C project to Swift?”, Swift eliminated many common coding errors. This improves your chances of developing a secure app.
  • Use tools and techniques like multi-factor authentication (MFA), encryption, a next-generation firewall, an antivirus solution, and a real-time threat intelligence tool.
  • Institute a robust code review process in your project. You can detect some application security vulnerabilities only by a thorough code review. If you need experienced reviewers, then check out our guide “Why choosing DevTeam.Space to review your code can ensure your software product is a success”.
  • Secure your APIs using techniques like encryption, authentication tokens, digital signatures, quotas, throttling, and a secure gateway.
  • Make smart use of cloud computing, e.g., use a hybrid cloud deployment. Here, you use a private cloud to run workloads that process sensitive information. You can run your other workloads on a public cloud.

Wondering how to secure your iOS online shopping app? We at DevTeam.Space can help! Check out our guide “How to secure your Fintech app”.

Develop APIs for shopping application development

You now have a list of several key features. How will you implement them?

Well, you can use 3rd party APIs for a few non-core features. An example is the “push notifications” feature, where you can use the “Apple Push Notification service” (APNs) API. You can consult its extensive documentation and learn how to integrate it into your iOS app.

How about the core features? Well, I recommend that you develop your own APIs for this. This provides a consistent framework for your front-end to access the backend, moreover, it reduces unnecessary external dependencies.

How do you develop APIs? I recommend that you create RESTful APIs since REST (Representational State Transfer) is the de-facto standard for API development. Do the following:

  • Use your cloud hosting account to host APIs.
  • Use database resources like PostgreSQL for API development. You might need a document database for developing APIs for an online shopping app, and I recommend MongoDB.
  • Develop APIs using a tool like Postman, and document them using Swagger.
  • Secure your APIs as I have already explained.
  • Design the API URL endpoints smartly.
  • Formulate meaningful rules for API requests and responses.

Need help with RESTful API development? Check out our guide “How to build RESTful API for your mobile app?”.

How fast can you launch a mobile app for online shopping on iOS?

There are several aspects you need to take care of:

  1. “User interface” (UI) design, where you need to follow the “Human Interface Guidelines”;
  2. Build the mobile app itself.

Let‘s say, based on your online store statistics, you decide to launch a mobile app for online shopping on iOS first. You also have a basic set of features. Your mobile app should be connected to your website and utilize the backend infrastructure you have.

Why is this important? Because if your online shop is built correctly and you have a solid backend, there will be no issues or delays. Conversely, if your backend infrastructure isn‘t ready for a mobile app, you will need to spend time making changes there, too.

This is why it is better to avoid an app builder program and to use full-time software engineers who can avoid these issues instead.

With the design, everything could vary. You may want to use the same style you have on your website, but it should be adjusted for the mobile interface, and you need to allocate the time for that work, too. Or you may want to build a new design, which can take even more time.

If you “hope for the best, plan for the worst”, you can expect a rough estimate of 1 to 3 months. Keep in mind that everything depends on your decisions, goals, budget, and deadlines.

What expert developers do you need to hire to build a secure and fast mobile app for your online store, and where to find them?

In addition to the production process above, you need to do some preparation work. First of all, it’s important to build a team capable of building a successful eCommerce app. You will need three types of specialists to build a secure and fast app for your online store:

  1. iOS developer
  2. Backend developer
  3. Designer

Considering that mobile shopping is skyrocketing, it‘s a serious step for you and your company and not something you can afford to screw up. Obviously, you need to have a great dev team to execute your mobile shopping app development process well.

Some say you can use some cheap platforms and launch a template-based mobile app, but in reality, it rarely lasts long enough, requires a lot of time to align it with your backend infrastructure, and doesn‘t provide enough flexibility for future development.

Thus, it is better to go with a custom solution that requires you to hire iOS developers. Although costlier, this online shopping app development approach will ensure that your new app is reliable and top-notch.

To narrow your circle, it‘s better to work with a development team, rather than individual developers. It‘s also important to work with a dev team that has successfully built similar apps for startups before. This will minimize the risks and help you get a better end product.

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I know it‘s difficult to find an expert dev team that has worked on a similar web or mobile app project before, one with similar functionalities, and is also great at communication.

Good news. If you don‘t know how to create a shopping app and where to start, you can try DevTeamSpace, a community of top dev teams. We‘ve built many successful mobile shopping apps.

We use artificial intelligence technologies to allocate one of our top scrum and agile methodology trained development teams to a project, based on the team‘s relevant expertise and availability.

We support every client with an account manager, a tech project manager, and daily automated updates and roadblocks tracking process, decreasing delays by up to 90%.

To chat with a representative from the best software development company in the business, simply submit your project here.

How much does it cost to build an online shopping app for iOS?

Now that you know what to do, the last piece of the puzzle is planning a budget for your mobile shopping web app. Your situation could be different from your competitors.

Maybe you and your stakeholders are on a tight budget and don‘t want to spend much. On the other hand, maybe you have plenty of resources and don‘t even want to limit yourself to a specific number.

Either way, you should learn what the market rates are and plan your budget accordingly, or at least consider several options.

Here is what Google says on this search request:

how to build an online shopping app

It could be true to some extent. But in reality, you can build your first version of the app (or MVP – minimum viable product) for anywhere from a few tens of thousands of USD to a few hundreds of thousands of USD.

It all depends on the features you want to implement and the design. If you aren‘t sure how to budget for your app, talk to our tech project manager who will provide you with a free quote.

Once you have an iOS app launched, you can refocus your efforts and ask your dev team to develop a shopping application for Android.

By the way, you can save a lot of resources and time with cross-platform app development using React Native or Xamarin as compared to native app development.

You can read more about these technologies in our other article here

Planning to Build an Online Shopping App?

Glad you made it down here! I hope this article was helpful as we deconstructed the sentence “How to develop a mobile app for online shopping on iOS” into a clear set of instructions and data which you can apply to your online shopping business.

Aesthetic design and several other factors have ensured that iPhone users demonstrate high brand loyalty. Read more about this in “iPhone users have most brand loyalty”.

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The rich ecosystem of Apple plays an important part in this. iPhone users are heavily invested in the iOS ecosystem, therefore, they are likely to remain highly loyal to Apple.

You can read “After all these years, iPhone owners are still more loyal to the brand than Android users” to learn more about this. You are certainly making the right decision to build an iOS online shopping app.

Your customers aren‘t the whole market. Your customers represent a specific set of people who have a certain set of shopping habits and a certain monthly income.

For example,, valued at $4 billion, targets people who want to buy directly from China at an extremely low price. Most of this target audience value price over quality and don‘t have a high family income. As you can see from the graph below, Android-based smartphones are relatively cheap in comparison with iOS devices.

As a result, you would expect that many customers use Android-powered smartphones.
All this means that you need to understand who your customers are and the mobile phones they use. If you already have a webstore, you can check this in your Google Analytics. Go to Audience –> Mobile –> Devices

how to build an online shopping app

This particular online store has more visits from iOS-powered devices – iPhone and iPad. If you see similar statistics for your eCommerce platform, you can add one more point to the iOS mobile store and focus your effort on that. 

Now, that you have a better understanding of your user market and how to build an online shopping mobile app for your business, it is time to start developing. You will need skilled mobile app developers to build a feature-rich, scalable, and performant app.

If you feel that your project team does not have the required software development and testing skills, we would advise you to partner with an experienced software development agency to outsource app developers according to your project needs.

As stated above, DevTeam.Space is a good place to find expert software developers!


If this article has been helpful for you, feel free to share it with your friends and colleagues on social media and via email!


What is the best online shopping app?

Examples of the best online shopping apps include:
• Amazon
• Finery
• ThredUP

How do I build an online shopping app?

If you have never developed an app before, then you should create a project plan and onboard the developers that you need. Then you need to set up the infrastructure, set up coms, establish tasks, and set the ball rolling.

Are online shopping apps safe?

Even though you are required to enter your credit card and other personal details, shopping apps are generally very safe. Fortunately, your credit card service provider is required to guarantee any money stolen from your card during unauthorized transactions.


Alexey Semeney

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