In this post we’ve going to explain how to turn a Shopify store into a mobile app, and boost your reach, conversions and revenue.
More people than ever today shop on their smartphones. With the rising trend of mobile ecommerce, if you’re still thinking desktop-first, you’re ignoring a large chunk of your customer base.
Apps can be expensive to create – but with a Shopify mobile app builder, anyone can create fully-functional, high-quality Shopify apps for a minimal investment. Keep reading and we’ll explain how.
Why You Need a Mobile App
Data shows that mobile ecommerce makes up more than 72% of the total ecommerce market share, rising from just over 52% in the space of five years.
This follows the overall trend of mobile internet usage, which tips heavier each year in favor of mobile. Mobile now has over 60% market share versus desktop and tablet.
What’s more, 15% of Americans today are smartphone-only, meaning they only access the internet via their mobile devices. This is the future of ecommerce – customers who aren’t just mobile-first, but mobile-only.
Optimizing your site for mobile is a start, but it’s not enough. Apps provide a superior user experience on mobile, which leads to increases in a number of key metrics, such as:
- Increased conversion rates
- Higher average order value
- More products viewed per session
More data shows that ecommerce mobile app users are twice as likely to return to the store within 30 days, compared to those on mobile browsers.
Apps also give you full use of mobile push notifications, which have, on average, 20% open rates and 28% click-through rates.
Apps also give you a great tool to nurture loyal, repeat customers.
Do you “need” to turn your Shopify store into a mobile app? Perhaps not. But a Shopify mobile app can have massive benefits for your business.
Can You Create Mobile Apps in Shopify?
Not directly. You can’t publish a mobile app directly from Shopify.
You can, in a roundabout way, build mobile apps with Shopify, by hiring developers to build the front end of your mobile app. This is the package that users on iOS and Android devices will be able to download and install on their phones.
The developers (plural – because you’ll need multiple developers and teams to work on native mobile apps for each operating system) will build an API to connect each mobile app to the Shopify backend. This will allow you to essentially manage your store through Shopify, while publishing it as a mobile app.
This is not a good idea for most stores, however. It costs too much, and adds too much to your workflow.
Mobile app development is expensive. A native app takes anywhere from $20,000 to $150,000 to build.
Multiply that by two if you want to release both iOS and Android apps.
You also need to factor at least 15-20% of the initial cost each year for updates an maintenance, for things like OS updates, Shopify updates, bug fixes, new features and improvements.
It could be even more – David Cost from Rainbow Apparel researched this in-depth when they were launching apps, and found the cost could be as much as a million per year.
“If we had unlimited time and money, we would probably go for a custom native app, but that is half a million to a million a year to maintain.”David Cost, VP of Marketing, Rainbow Apparel
Being conservative, let’s assume it costs $100,000 to build apps for both mobile platforms. The conservative estimate for updates and maintenance comes to $15,000 per year.
That’s too much for most store owners to spend. It also provides a huge headache trying to manage several, separate platforms going forward, instead of just your website.
Can I Turn My Shopify Store into an App?
Yes. The better way is to convert your Shopify store into an app using a Shopify mobile app builder.
A Shopify mobile app builder will take everything on your existing Shopify website and convert it to a like-native mobile app, which users can download.
The best mobile app builders give you a mobile app that offers 90-95% of what you get with a native app, but cheaper and with less hassle.
We’ll look at exactly how to convert your Shopify store into a mobile app next.
How to Convert Shopify to App (Without Spending Megabucks)
If you’re a big brand, with a ton of resources at your disposal – think Nike, Target, Zara, etc – you might hire people to code your shopping app from scratch.
If you’re not, here’s a better way. It’s easy for anyone to do, affordable, fast (get your apps live in the app stores in less than a month), and maintaining your apps is much cheaper and easier on an ongoing basis.
Here’s the process, step-by-step.
Step One: Choose the right Shopify App Builder
Not all Shopify app builders out there are equal. Some offer liming templates, that make your app look boring and generic. Some will struggle to recreate your website’s user experience in the mobile app due to limitations of Shopify’s native API, while others are overly expensive, hard to use, or offer minimal support.
MobiLoud is the best way to build a Shopify mobile app. It’s easy, affordable, fast (go live in the app stores in less than a month), and we provide support that your average mobile app builder does not.
MobiLoud apps convert your actual Shopify store to an app, giving you apps that are 100% synced with your website. That means you’ll have a consistent UX, easy maintenance, and you can take all your existing features to your app.
David from Rainbow Apparel tried several template-based hybrid app builders, but found it hard to do what he wanted with the Shopify API.
“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 a major limitations that the Shopify API would not let them get around.”
He moved on to MobiLoud eventually, landing on this as the perfect option to turn their Shopify store into mobile apps.
Keep reading as we walk you through how it works.
Want a personalized walkthrough? Book a free demo with one of our mobile app experts now.
Step Two: Optimize your site for mobile
The app you create will display content using “webviews”. Think of webviews like a dedicated browser within a mobile app. It displays a live version of your website’s content, in the package of a mobile app, with mobile UI elements added on top.
This means the majority of your apps’ UI will come from your mobile-optimized website. So to design your app, just design your website to look great on mobile screens.
Most stores today are already mobile-optimized. If so, you can skip to the next step. If not, spend some time to make sure your site looks and functions perfectly for mobile devices.
Step Three: Sign into MobiLoud and insert your site’s URL
Now go into the MobiLoud Canvas builder, add your site’s URL and a couple more minor details.
You’ll generate a preview of what your site will look like as an app in just a couple of minutes. Then, you can get to customizing your Shopify store mobile app.
Step Four: Add mobile app UI elements
Now set up the UI elements that are going to encase your website’s content in the app.
These include the tab menu at the bottom of the screen, along with navigation settings and elements (animations, back bar behavior, loading spinners, splash screens, etc).
All this can be easily configured within the MobiLoud app builder dashboard.
You can customize the colors here, to ensure your app matches your brand’s visual identity.
Step Five: Set up push notifications
Push notifications are a big part of what makes your Shopify mobile app effective.
This communication channel is amazing for sending targeted messages (such as promotions and order updates), getting people into your app and buying things more often.
You’ll set up a couple of tags to indicate what kind of notifications users are interested in receiving, which they can customize from their push preferences in-app.
You don’t need to go too deep into push notifications when you first set up your app. Later, you’ll be able fully customize your push notifications and set up deep, personalized push flows with one of the leading mobile push notification providers, OneSignal.
Step Six: Finish configuring your app and test
Finish up all the small configurations in your app – such as adding login and signup pages to your app and automatic ratings prompts.
When you’re done, pass it on to our team, who will do the heavy lifting – compiling the code that allows your apps to run on mobile devices.
This will take about a week or two. When it’s done, you’ll be able to test the apps on your own devices.
Play around, get a feel for how your users will experience your shopping app, and get back to our team with any final change requests or questions.
Step Seven: Finalize, publish and promote your apps
Finally, you’ll give the go-ahead for our team to ship the live version of your iOS app and Android app.
Once that’s done, our team also handles the app store submission process – guaranteeing approval.
Your apps can be live and published in as little as 3 weeks from the time you decide to start the project. All that’s left for you to do is promote your apps.
Use things like smart app banners on your website, and app-only discounts to incentivize people to download your app.
By the way, perhaps the best part of choosing MobiLoud to turn your Shopify store into an app is the service element. We’re not just a software tool that leaves you to manage your new apps on your own. Our team stays to handle all updates, maintenance and fixes to your apps in the future.
It’s that service that allows you to launch your store on new platforms without adding a whole lot of complexity and difficulty to your everyday workflow.
Benefits of Having Your Own Mobile App
Here’s what you get when you use a Shopify mobile app builder to convert your site into a high-quality mobile app.
A better mobile shopping experience
Your customers will have a better time shopping on mobile than in your mobile website. Your store will be easier to navigate, with fewer of the annoyances and distractions you get when shopping on a mobile website.
Increased loyalty and retention
The better user experience directly correlates to increased loyalty and retention. If people love shopping with you, they’ll come back and do it again.
Apps are tailor-made for fostering loyalty and increasing retention rates. They make it easy for people to get in, with just one tap from their home screen. And that home screen icon is a constant reminder of your brand, a permanent fixture in your customers’ headspace.
This is all going to translate to a higher lifetime value from every one of your app users.
An owned sales channel
Worried about a dip in Google SEO rankings, or the constant cost of driving traffic from paid ads?
An app gives you an owned channel, not susceptible to the platform risk of Google, Facebook, or online marketplaces.
You can reach out directly to your customers through push notifications, and re-engage your customers, even if your reach on external platforms is diminished for whatever reason.
App store presence
Finally, getting into the app stores is a powerful thing.
They can provide a new acquisition channel. They also provide a ton of social proof. When someone sees you have a mobile app in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store, your brand instantly looks more legitimate and trustworthy.
Your app store listings even give you multiple high-authority backlinks, which will help you build your website’s presence and get more traffic from Google.
Wrapping Up – Why You Should Use MobiLoud to Convert Your Shopify Store into a Mobile App
The mobile revolution is upon us. The majority of your revenue today probably comes from mobile. If not, it will soon.
Your Shopify store needs more than just a mobile-optimized website. To capture all the revenue you can from your mobile users, you should be offering your own branded app.
Today, turning a Shopify store into a mobile app is easier than ever, if you go about it the right way. Instead of paying tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars for mobile developers, MobiLoud makes it super accessible and easy.
Here are a few of the key benefits of using MobiLoud’s Shopify app builder:
- It costs just a fraction of the price of custom app development.
- You can launch professional, high-quality apps in less than a month.
- Your apps will retain everything that makes your website great – from product collections to payment gateways, plugins, tools, themes and more.
- Everything is synced, across web, Android and iOS. Any changes you make on your site reflect in your apps immediately.
- You don’t have to worry about submitting your apps to the app stores – we guarantee approval.
- Our team holds your hand every step of the way, and does all the hard lifting so you don’t have to.
This simple, zero-code app builder allows you to launch your own shopping apps, and take your place in the app stores alongside the world’s biggest brands.
Get in touch with us now to learn more about how we can help you launch an app for your Shopify store. Just book a free, personalized demo and one of our app experts will walk you through the whole process.