Eight reasons your e-commerce store needs a mobile app

E-commerce mobile app featured image

Simply running a responsive e-commerce site may no longer be enough. In our rapidly changing world, a mobile app that works in tandem with your online store will soon become a minimum requirement for success. If you plan to take your business to the next level of sales, customer engagement and brand recognition, the time to implement that mobile app is now.

The commerce landscape is changing

A cartoon illustration of a lady at a market

1. E-commerce is now mainstream

The digital age is firmly established and confidence in e-commerce is growing by leaps and bounds. After all, it’s difficult to beat the convenience of shopping from your own home, with no need to get dressed and drive or walk to a shop.

Even in South Africa, where the uptake has been slower (17% compared to 31% globally), more people are shopping online than ever before. As a result, developing the relevant technology has become a priority as online retailers look to make buying and selling as easy as possible.

2. Smartphones rule

According to Statista, more than 2.7 billion people worldwide currently own smartphones, and that number is growing every day. More than half of all web traffic is generated by mobile phones, and the 2019 PwC Global Consumer Insights survey reports that, for the first time, more consumers are using smartphones, rather than any other device, to shop online.

According to the survey, in South Africa 18% of smartphone users shop online with their mobiles (compared to 24% globally).

Global consumer shopping habits over the last five years

Graph comparing different devices

These stats are no surprise as smartphones are so much easier and more convenient to use than a desktop, especially on the go. In South Africa, mobile phones are also far cheaper and more accessible than a computer with an internet connection. In fact, 80% of South Africans now own a smartphone (Independent Communications Authority) and with data costs dropping and tech literacy rising, this number will only grow.

Mobile apps are reshaping the e-commerce world

Previously used mostly for gaming and similar activities, it’s now possible to do just about anything with an app, from booking tickets for a concert through to ordering an Uber. There are virtually no limits, and businesses and customers alike are taking full advantage of this.

Customers are also becoming more and more discerning about where and how they shop, always looking for the fastest and most convenient way. In 2018, this need was clearly best catered for by mobile apps, which accounted for 90% of mobile internet use time.

Graph showing how much time on mobile is spent on apps


Adding a mobile app to your online store has quite simply become the next obvious step in the process of providing a seamless, multi-channel shopping experience for your customers.

8 Reasons why your business needs an e-commerce mobile app

1. Mobile apps are extremely user-friendly

In our fast-paced world, customers want to be able to run their life from their phones while they’re on the go. Apps are convenient tools that help them quickly and easily take care of necessities, like paying bills or buying groceries, gifts or clothes. Once an app is installed, it’s clearly visible on their phone and accessible at the click of a button. There’s no need to open a browser, type in a URL or login with a password. As app design needs to be optimised to make the best use of restricted screen space, navigation is very easy and intuitive, with priority given to product images, descriptions and prices. And if customers do want a brick-and-mortar shopping experience, they can use the store locator to find their nearest store. When it’s easy for them to buy, customers are happy to give you their money.

Stats: Because of the optimised display, app users view 4.6 times as many products as mobile browsers.

Image of a mobile phone with icons around it

2. Mobile app conversion rates are higher

Many mobile site visitors are still browsing. They’re trying to decide what they want, investigating what you offer and checking whether your product is a better deal than your competitor’s. When someone goes to the trouble of downloading your dedicated app though, they usually know what they want and they’ve already decided to buy from you. Then once they select their products, one-click ordering makes it quick and easy to move through to check-out. Higher conversion rates mean more money in the bank for you.

Stats: Conversion rates for mobile apps are 3x higher than for mobile websites.

3. Mobile apps result in lower cart abandonment rates

There are two reasons that cart abandonment rates are so low for apps. Firstly, as discussed previously, the user opens your app with a clear intention to buy. In contrast, users browsing on a mobile site tend to add items they are considering to their cart (using it as a kind of ideas list) and then often don’t complete the transaction. Secondly, the checkout process is quick and easy as all their shipping and payment information is already loaded on the system. There are far fewer obstacles to completing the process, which reduces the likelihood that they’ll give up or lose interest and go elsewhere.

Stats: Cart abandonment rates on apps are only 20% vs 97% on mobile sites.

Illustration of a phone with a speech bubble and shopping car above it

4. Mobile apps promote higher average order values (AOV)

Mobile users spend more because shopping with you is so easy. Push notifications keep you top of mind while adding value, for example, offering them special deals or notifying them when new products or items they want are in stock. One-click checkout simplifies and speeds up the process, and payment is easy, especially for returning customers who have already entered their payment details. You have gained their trust and they’re comfortable to buy from you.

Stats: AOV on e-commerce apps is 140% higher than on mobile sites.

5. Mobile app loyalty and retention rates are excellent

Once they’ve downloaded your app, every time that person uses their phone they see your app icon, whether they’re looking for it or not. It acts as a constant subconscious trigger, encouraging them to buy from you. Within the app, they can customise their settings and shopping preferences, and access records of their previous purchases whenever they need to. Their personal shipping and payment information only needs to be loaded once, saving them time later down the line. Add to that personalised communication, including push notifications, exclusive, useful content and a loyalty programme that rewards purchases via the app, and your customers have compelling reasons to keep coming back.


  • Mobile app users are 2x more likely to visit your store again within 30 days than mobile website browsers (Criteo).
  • Those returning customers are 9x more likely to buy.
  • Push notifications sent via apps have a 90% open rate and a 40% click-through rate.

Illustration of a smart phone that had the work rewards on it. The image also contains a wallet fwith money going into it and people

6. Mobile apps promote higher engagement using built-in phone features

Apps that integrate with social media platforms allow customers to boost engagement with your brand. Customers can use the app to discuss and share their experiences with your company via their networks. This integration also allows them to use their phone cameras to take pictures of their purchased items, or film unboxing videos, creating useful content for other customers. These can be shared to your business’s social media accounts, generating interest and excitement, and potentially bringing in new customers with no extra marketing spend.

Illustration of a hand using a tablet looking device. The Tablet has seix icons around it

7. Mobile apps are faster

Because some app data is stored directly on the device, there’s much less to download from a potentially slow internet connection. Customers can also stipulate their download preferences, so only the necessary data is loaded. Some functions can even be carried out offline so internet access may not even be required, depending on what the customer wants to do on the app. When you save your customer time and frustration, the next time they need to buy a product you stock, they’ll think of you first.

Stats: About 37% of millennials consider data usage a key factor in deciding if they like a mobile app.

8. Mobile apps give you useful feedback to help optimise sales

Your app tracks user behavior and buying patterns, helping you identify what’s working and what isn’t. It also gives you incredibly useful information to use in marketing campaigns to draw in even more customers, again at no extra cost.

Phone with pie chats on the screen. There are also pie cahrts to the left of the phone

What’s involved in implementing an e-commerce app?

Our Comalytics e-commerce app integrates directly with your nopCommerce store. Everything is managed via the nopCommerce admin panel, and all your online store data automatically feeds through to the app, including products, homepage categories and slider images.

See the demo for the basic B2C app:

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If that doesn’t suit your needs, we can customise it for your business.

Contact us today to find out more about how an e-commerce app can benefit your business.

The bottom line…

Investing in a mobile app is becoming more and more critical. Customers are always looking for the best deal and the most convenient shopping experience, and if you don’t provide it, they may well move across to a competitor that does. Create satisfied customers, boost your profits and take your business into the future by implementing a mobile app now

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