4 Ways to Build a Fashion App (Development Guide 2024)

If you want to build a fashion ecommerce app, there are a few ways you can do it, from hiring developers to using a DIY tool or paying for an app development service. 

It’s critical that you choose the right option for your business, or you’ll risk wasting a huge amount of time and money, and potentially come away with an app that provides more problems than benefits.

We have more than 10 years of experience in fashion app development, so we know the ins and outs of each approach to building fashion apps. Read on and learn the best way to create a shopping app for your brand.

Every Fashion Brand Needs Their Own App

Fashion as an eCommerce category is growing fast. In 2021, the global e-commerce apparel market size was valued at USD 553.1 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.6% from 2022 to 2030.

What’s more, consumers are gravitating more and more towards mobile. Mobile commerce makes up 38% of all online spending in the US. And during Cyber Week 2023, more sales came on mobile than on desktop.

Apps allow you to better cater to mobile users, resulting in a higher conversion rate and AOV.

But perhaps the best benefit is retention. Retention rate skyrockets for app users, and these users are most likely to become loyal, engaged customers over the long-term.

An app helps separate you from your competitors and build a more authoritative brand with a deeper, more engaged audience. Now let’s take a look at some examples.

Best Fashion App Examples

Learn from fashion brands who have gone out and created great apps already, with these examples of successful fashion mobile apps:

ASOS

Great vertical brands like ASOS have been building high-quality mobile apps for years.

ASOS is a leading mobile application in the global fashion industry, providing a wide range of clothing, accessories, and beauty products.
The app offers thousands of styles from hundreds of brands globally.

The ASOS mobile app (iOS/Android)

Its key features include an easy checkout process, personalised fashion recommendations, exclusive content, and style match technology that allows users to take or upload a photo of clothing they like and find similar styles available on the platform.

H&M

H&M is another huge, worldwide brand with their own app. The app allows you to shop from anywhere, get order updates, and even offers innovative ways to find products, by uploading photos or through inspiration from other H&M fans.

The app also helps with in-store shopping, allowing you to scan and find other variations or sizes that are available for any product.

The H&M mobile app (iOS/Android)

John Varvatos

John Varvatos, a global menswear brand with a “vintage-meets-contemporary aesthetic” also utilizes a mobile app to provide a deeper omnichannel experience for their customers.

The app makes online, mobile shopping simple, and uses push notifications to keep users engaged and coming back to shop again and again.

The John Varvatos mobile app (iOS/Android)

How to Build a Shopping App for a Fashion Brand

A mobile shopping app can set you back hundreds of thousands of dollars, six to nine months of development time, and keep you on the hook for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for maintenance.

Or, it can be a simple, pain-free process that costs low-four figures, requires minimal effort and upkeep, and is done in less than a month.

It all depends on the development method you choose. Let’s take a look at the options now.

Native App Development

Native app development involves creating an application specifically for a particular platform, like iOS or Android, using languages and development tools supported by those platforms. For iOS, it's Swift or Objective-C with Xcode, and for Android, it's Java or Kotlin with Android Studio.

Pros:

  • High Performance: Native apps run smoothly as they are built specifically for a single platform.
  • Better Integration: They offer seamless integration with the hardware (like camera, GPS, etc.) and software features of the device.
  • UX: Native apps can provide a superior user experience, adhering to the specific UI standards of each platform.

Cons:

  • High Costs: Building separate apps for each platform doubles development and maintenance costs.
  • Lead time: Each app must be created separately, consuming more resources and time.
  • Complexity: Building native apps is a complex and technical project to manage, even with the main work outsourced
  • Overall native development is a possibility. Overall though, it's unclear whether it's worth it.

Good native apps will cost six figures, and take six months to build. That's at an absolute minimum.

This is just too much to spend and too long to wait for an app, especially when you don't know how much it's actually going to add to your bottom line.

There's no need to reinvent the wheel to build fashion ecommerce apps. What you need is a smooth UX, the right features, and a fast and efficient build. This is better achieved through other, less-risky methods.

Hybrid App Development

Hybrid apps blend elements of both native and web apps. They're capable of running on different platforms using the same code. In the context of fashion ecommerce apps, they can theoretically be built with frameworks like React Native & Flutter, tools that allow you to build single apps compatible with iOS and Android.

Pros:

  • Faster Development: Since the same codebase can be used for multiple platforms, development is quicker than native development.
  • Cost-Effective: The need for separate teams for different platforms is eliminated, reducing costs.

Cons:

  • Lower Performance: Hybrid apps can't match the speed of native apps because they need to work across multiple platforms.
  • Expense: though more affordable than native development, building good hybrid fashion ecommerce apps  will still cost tens of thousands of dollars, upfront
  • Time: though faster than native development, you'll still have a complex project to manage for many months

Hybrid apps are a possibility, but suffer from the same flaw as native development - time, expense, and risk. You will need to be at least somewhat technical to even understand if your idea is feasible.

The technicalities of both hybrid and native development are beyond the scope of this article, we covered them briefly just to make you aware of your broad options.

Next we'll get into a few options for building fashion eCommerce apps with much lower time and capital investment.

App Builders

App builders are software platforms that allow users to create mobile applications using drag-and-drop interfaces.

They typically utilize pre-built blocks and themes to allow you to build a fashion app fast, and without knowing anything about coding.

You’ll compile your app via a visual interface, and when you’re done, hit publish and get working iOS and Android apps.

These have become particularly popular in the ecommerce space as of late, as they are designed for the kind of businesses that don’t have the in-house capability for native development, or the budget.

However, these tools sacrifice some level of functionality and flexibility for how easy they make it. You’re not going to be able to build a fully custom, unique app, and you won’t be able to make the same kind of incremental improvements you’ve probably made to your website over the years.

Pros:

  • No Coding Required: App builders are user-friendly, requiring no coding skills
  • Fast and Affordable: Users can quickly create and publish an app on multiple platforms

Cons:

  • Limited Customization: App builders have a limited set of templates and features, restricting unique customization
  • Performance Issues: Apps made with builders may not perform as well as native or hybrid apps

App builders can be a decent choice, if you aren't too concerned with performance or customisation. But the limitations may be too much for serious fashion brands.

MobiLoud

You can spend $150k+ and six months plus building native fashion ecommerce apps and get something quality, but still limited.

App builders are cheaper and easier, but their reliance on APIs and templates will limit your potential.

MobiLoud comes in the middle of the two, as the ideal sweet spot.

MobiLoud is a fully managed service to convert websites to apps. It lets you keep everything that makes your existing fashion website great, while adding the benefits of a smoother user experience on mobile, an app store presence, push notifications and greater retention of a mobile app.

No matter what themes, extensions, integrations, third-party plugins or custom features you have on your site, they’ll work the same in your app. This is something an app builder can’t do, and mobile developers will take months and charge thousands to do.

Your fashion site already works. It's already optimized, and you’ve spent countless hours and sunk a lot of investment into making sure it’s as good as it can be. MobiLoud lets you reuse everything you’ve done for the app.

How It Works

We handle the whole process for you.

  • It starts with a discovery call, where we discuss your goals and make sure MobiLoud is a good fit.
  • From there, we onboard you, introducing you to the team who will create your fashion app.
  • Our team works with you to enhance your mobile website with native app features and custom UI design, giving your site (and app) a truly native feel, and giving you usable Android and iOS apps.
  • We’ll prepare professional icons, splash screens, and custom screenshots for your app and store listings, getting everything ready for launch.
  • When ready, we’ll share a working build with you to test and provide feedback.
  • Once you’re happy with the app, we submit it to the app stores for approval. We handle the entire process - and guarantee approval.
  • Finally, after your app is live, we help take care of your app and ensure it stays up to date and bug-free (saving you tens of thousands per year, minimum, compared to keeping developers on staff).
“It was an easy experience. I've always got a million projects on my plate and with this I was able to spin up an app in two months for a couple $1000. It made me look really good. I like everything about the experience.”

- Brent Stimmel, VP of IT at JF Petroleum (read their story)

Launch Your Own Fashion Mobile Apps Today

There’s no better time to launch your own fashion app than right now. MobiLoud makes it easy.

It’s risk-free. In the unlikely event that you’re not happy with the apps, we’ll refund you. We don’t do long-term contracts either, and you can cancel at any time.

But the biggest reason it’s risk-free is that you already know your mobile website works. We’re just adapting that and publishing it as a mobile app.

At the price, you’re almost guaranteed a positive ROI. All you need is a small number of app users showing a small increase in key metrics, and you’ll make your money back.

“We're seeing that the customers who do use the app are more engaged, they're spending more time on site, they're spending more per transaction, they're spending more overall. The app is paying for itself.”

We’ve built apps for thousands of businesses, including numerous popular fashion brands, including Rainbow Shops, SYN.DI.CATE, Bestseller and John Varvatos.

These brands got amazing apps with MobiLoud, saving tens of thousands of dollars and months of effort. You can too. 

Let’s build your fashion ecommerce apps; book a call today and learn more.

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