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How to Make an Online Shopping app Like Etsy?

You have to face it.

If you don’t offer great mobile experience, you are deliberately cutting yourself from more revenues.

The mobile commerce market share is expected to hit $284 billion by 2020. And guess what? Americans are not even the biggest mobile spenders:


We’ve decided to take Etsy as an example of a popular online marketplace for a few reasons:

  • Their app UX and design are great.
  • Etsy has 25 million of active shoppers worldwide and 35 million product listed.
  • They are a bit more distinctive and appealing than Amazon, eBay, and other large online marketplaces.

Yet, a popular question we receive is this: Does my e-commerce business really need a dedicated shopping app? I already have a well-optimized (sort of) mobile website.

Let’s break it down in details.

Shopping App or Mobile Website: What To Choose?

Here are some curious stats from The State of Mobile Commerce 2016 report by Criteo to help you make the right decision:


  • The fastest growing mobile shopping verticals include fashion & luxury goods, mass merchants, health and beauty, sports goods and home products.
  • Smartphone purchases prevail over tablet. The latter have dropped by 15% in Q1 2016, while smartphone shipments have increased by 30%.

To answer the next popular question – should I build an Android or iOS app? – take a look at the following data:


While iOS gadgets still dominate the market and iPhone users tend to spend more, Android fans are becoming more active spenders as well. Plus, Android devices are more popular on a global scale.

Now, let’s speak about another important metric – user retention rates.

New app users are twice more likely to return within 30 days compared to mobile web shoppers. And mobile apps now deliver 54% of all mobile transactions vs. 46% of those completed on a mobile website.

And what about conversion rates? Surprise, surprise, but mobile apps win here too:


Now, let’s talk about the average order value.

According to Business Insider,

“U.S. consumers spend 59% of their time on mobile and 41% on desktop, but just 15% of their dollars on mobile and a staggering 85% of their dollars on desktop”.

However, according to Criteo’s newer research, the average desktop order value in Q2 2016 is $100, while mobile app shoppers’ average check is $127. Sweet!

And to draw the line, according to Econsultancy, 85% of smartphone users actually prefer to use a shopping app over a mobile website.

Okay, so that was a long intro about why you should bother with building a mobile shopping app in the first place.

Now, let’s get back to another pressing question: how to make an online shopping app like Etsy?

Why Etsy of all apps? It’s one of the top-10 online retailer websites in the US with 54 million registered members and a very distinctive visually compelling design.

But do you really want to be Pepsi and build a complete Etsy app clone?

Nah, that’s not really efficient. So, instead, we’ll show you how you can enhance the company’s best practices and build a custom solution of your own.

Shopping App Development Essentials

Two words – design and features.

That’s exactly what you need to focus on to develop a mobile shopping app that gets actual traction among the consumers.

And better design and UX is the reason why many people prefer shopping apps to mobile websites:


UI and UX Design Tips For Mobile Shopping Apps

So let’s see what a shopping app like Etsy stands for in terms of design.

Simple & Uncluttered UI


Their shopper’s app features simplified navigation and discovery through different feeds – Etsy picks, Recommended and Personalized user feed.

Simplified Signup & Checkout Process


Because typing from mobile is cumbersome. Period.

Some more ideas to make the experience smoother:

  • Test multiple step checkout forms as those are simpler to fill from mobile. Users will have more white space and larger tabs to tap their information.
  • Allow autocomplete, autosuggest features for filling up personal information.
  • Don’t ask mobile shoppers to immediately create an account with you and allow guest checkouts.
  • Offer to store their personal information for future purchases, but don’t demand that

Keep The “Add To Cart” Button Prominent. Always.


Mobile shoppers don’t want to scroll any further to finalize their purchase. If that button isn’t visible, you are likely to lose the purchase.

Save For Later/Wishlist Features


A lot of people use mobile apps to browse and discover products and finalized their purchases later from desktop devices. By allowing them to save items for later, you make it easier to earn a sale later on.

Stick The Thumb-Friendly Zone

Those vary drastically depending on the gadget screen size.

Here’re the “normal-sized” smartphones:


Image Source

And here’s how the zoning changes for phablets, which people tend to hold with two hands:


Image Source

Check out or post about the best UX and UI patterns libraries for more design inspiration and ideas.

Mobile Shopping App Features

Let’s not waste time here on the standard features for a mobile app similar to Etsy. Obviously, that would be account creation, product listing, payment integrations and product search/discovery.

Instead, let’s focus on some add-ons that can increase your revenues and user engagement rates.

Push Messages

We already wrote a big fat guide about the power of push marketing with cool examples included.

The best practices for e-commerce companies include:

  • Personalized promo deals and flash sale announcements.
  • Follow-ups on incomplete app purchases.
  • Status updates on order delivery.
  • If you have a physical store as well, you can set up a geofence and target users with custom push messages.

Ready to experiment even further? Take advantage of the iBeacon technology. Imagine a user walking into your store and receiving a notification that their wish list item is currently on sale. Sweet, right?

Product Demos

A lot of customers feel reluctant about purchasing a product online because they can’t quite get a “feel” of it. Product demos can solve the problem and, in fact, serve as a powerful conversions booster with reported increase between 55% and 150% for different retailers.

Social Shopping

Social shopping is another trend on the rise. After all, the modern consumer trusts peer-to-peer recommendations more than any other type of advertising. You can blend the social component to your app the following way:

Peer-to-peer advice on looks: You users can upload their pics and ask others for feedback.

Curated Collections: Allow users to create their product feeds/public inspiration wish lists, which others can share and comment on.


Trendsetter Rewards: Acknowledge active users with special accolades and treats e.g. discounts for their efforts in sharing your goods, accumulating followers and making purchases. Build an active community within your brand, which will spread the good word for you.


The Cost To Build a Mobile Shopping App

And here comes to the good part about the price of app development.

As always, we are trying to make the most educated assumption based on the missing information. Building a marketplace the size of Etsy will set you back for a six-figure number.

However, building a custom mobile shopping app for iOS and Android with a sleek design, interesting functionality, and attractive navigation will likely cost you between $35,000-$50,000.

And if you need a more accurate price or would like a developer to assess your requirements list, get in touch with us using the form below!

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