To successfully build sneaker mobile apps, there are several viable options. The right one for you depends on exactly what you want, how much time you have, the size of your budget, and several other factors.
In this article we're going to guide you to make the right choice, explaining the key considerations and ultimately arguing that MobiLoud is your best option. Let's get started with some encouraging data.
Sneaker & footwear as an eCommerce category is growing fast. In 2021, the global e-commerce footwear market was worth $99.1 billion, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8% from 2022 to 2028. It's estimated to reach $101 billion in 2023, and between 2023 and 2027, it's expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.74%, resulting in a value of $136.10 billion by 2027 (source).
More generally, eCommerce as a whole is booming, with sales predicted to grow 10.4% this year. By 2026, eCommerce is expected to make up 24% of all retail purchases.
Finally the explosion in mobile app usage, with its market size projected to reach $407 Billion by 2026, underlines the immense potential of sneaker mobile apps for scaling your business.
Several sneaker & footwear brands are already seeing real success with eCommerce apps. Let’s look at an impressive sneaker mobile apps example to see what's possible.
Great vertical brands like GOAT have been building solid mobile apps for years.
GOAT is a leading e-commerce app for buying and selling sneakers, apparel, and accessories from popular brands, such as Nike, Air Jordan, adidas, Yeezy, Off-White, and more. With over two million listings and shipping options to over 170 countries, the app offers exclusive drops, new releases, and vintage products (source). GOAT's unique features include personalized notifications on price drops, offer placements on desired styles, an augmented reality (AR) tool for trying on sneakers, and access to its in-app magazine, GREATEST, for fashion and culture content.
GOAT have had success with iOS and Android apps, and you can too. Let’s look at how you can also build even better apps in the next section.
Building sneaker mobile apps will allow you to:
Mobile ecommerce apps are huge for many brands. The ability to send push notifications alone is a game changer.
Sounds good, right? Right. The real issue is building them. It can be a challenge - depending on the route you choose to take.
Speaking broadly, there are 4 options:
Let’s look at them each in turn.
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.
Good native apps will cost six figures, and take six months to build, at an absolute minimum.
This alone prices out most small and medium sized businesses, and is a long time to wait before going to market.
There's no need to reinvent the wheel to build sneaker mobile 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 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 sneaker mobile 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.
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 sneaker mobile apps with much lower time and capital investment.
App builders are software that allow users to create mobile applications using drag-and-drop interfaces.
In the eCommerce space there are typically two main types.
The first are based on blocks, allowing you to drag-and-drop various pre-built components to define the UI of your apps. Different app builders will have different blocks for specific functions and integrations with some third parties. There will also be some customisation options like colour schemes and logos which will help it to look like something vaguely resembling your main web store.
The second main type of app builder is based on templates or themes. You'll be able to choose from one of their pre-built themes, which come with different styles and functionalities, then add different pre-built widgets and styling to achieve some degree of customization.
In reality, many app builders combine elements of both. What they have in common are pre-built UIs with limited customization options, and a reliance on the APIs of whatever you use as a CMS.
App builders are a popular choice for non-technical individuals or small businesses looking to develop simple apps and there are several in the eCommerce space.
App builders can be a decent choice, if you aren't too concerned with performance or customisation.
They come with serious limitations though. What makes them fast and cheap - reliance on APIs, templates, and widgets - is also what makes them inflexible and generic.
They force your brand into one of these templates then use APIs to populate them, you'll never have much freedom. APIs only expose certain data, templates can only approximate your brand. If you have a feature on your site and they don't have the perfect pre-built integration available, you can't use it. Even if they do, these various integrations have a performance record that is far from perfect.
APIs also come with platform risk. All it needs is one major update to turn your workflows and app functionality upside down.
“The hybrid solutions on top of Shopify are just too limited. The Shopify API only enables certain things and for all the major providers of hybrid apps for Shopify, they had major limitations that the Shopify API would not let them get around. When our first wrapper app stopped working, we were forced into working with another app provider. That was a year of work, and then we discovered all the different things they couldn’t do because of the Shopify API.”
- David Cost, VP of Ecommerce and Marketing at Rainbow (read their story)
So app builders are way more affordable, and far simpler to use. You can get an app in just hours, and probably afford their pricing if you have any revenue whatsoever. But, if you have any degree of complexity or performance on your web store, the apps will only be a pale imitation.
We're now going to talk about our platform, MobiLoud, and show you how it gives you the best of both worlds - the efficiency and affordability of app builders with the flexibility and UX of native apps.
MobiLoud is the best way to build sneaker mobile apps, let's see how.
You can spend $150k+ and six months plus building native sneaker mobile apps and get something quality, but still limited.
Alternatively, you can tinker with cheap app builders based on APIs and templates, but they’ll limit you even more and could easily be a complete waste of time.
You don’t just want an app, just to tick a box.
You want something great. You want something at least as good, if not better, than your main web store. Something that will have a measurable impact on driving up conversions, sales, and ultimately profits.
MobiLoud is a unique answer to the challenge, combining the best of all 3 categories above.
MobiLoud converts your existing sneaker & footwear site to iOS and Android apps through a native "wrapper", and everything from your site will work in the apps.
We really mean everything. No matter which themes, plugins, or 3rd party tools you use for your site - they will work flawlessly in the apps, which will sync with your site and update automatically.
With MobiLoud you don’t need to worry about whether you can replicate the features, design, and functionality of your site. You can.
Your sneaker & footwear site already works. It's already optimized. You’ve already spent significant time and money tweaking everything, so you already have what you need.
With MobiLoud you don't need to commit yourself to any long and expensive projects. You just configure some settings, and we handle all technical aspects of the app build. Within just a few weeks you'll be ready to launch on iOS and Android (which we handle too), and going forward we handle all ongoing updates and maintenance.
“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)
There’s no chance you get apps you aren’t happy with, because we’ll refund you in the unlikely event that happens. We don't do annual contracts either, so you can cancel at any time.
Going forward you can manage the apps as easily as you do your site, without needing any technical knowledge. The tricky parts are all handled by us - so you don't need to add extra employees or stress your team out.
We've already built apps for thousands of businesses, including dozens of eCommerce sites. Check out these stories:
These brands got top quality apps with MobiLoud, saving themselves tens of thousands of dollars and months of effort. You can too. Let’s build your sneaker mobile apps, book a call today and we’ll explain everything.