Website vs. Mobile App: Which One to Choose for Your E-Commerce Business?

The demand for online shopping is increasing, owing to its convenient, quick, and reliable nature. To fulfill this demand, more and more offline stores are going online and are adapting to the e-retail sector. However, many businesses that plan to go online struggle with choosing the right platform.

Websites and applications are two platforms through which businesses can start an e-commerce store. Each of these platforms has its own impact on the e-commerce business in terms of profitability, returns, and most importantly, customer relationship. Therefore, to understand which platform is the best choice, let’s start by understanding the basics and scope of each of them.

Developing an E-Commerce Mobile Application

Mobile e-commerce applications are highly popular and can be directly downloaded on the phone. The buyers can then use this application to browse through product listings and make purchases.

The type of e-commerce app that your business will need will significantly depend upon the type of business and the size of your target market. Depending on your business needs, your app will be developed with either native or cross-platform approach.

Each of these approaches will largely impact the cost and time it will take to develop your online shopping app. Native apps have a higher development cost, but they also offer seamless performance, high functionality, and a high-end user experience. On the other hand, cross-platform apps take less time and cost to develop but have compromised performance and quality. As a result, native development is highly preferred by businesses planning to go digital.

Further, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of developing an e-commerce app for your business.


  1. Developing an app will allow your users to access high-end features, enhancing their shopping experience.
  2. You can market your e-retail business with push notifications, which is an app feature.
  3. Mobile applications load with screens, unlike websites that load with individual web pages. As a result, apps respond faster to the user commands.


  1. The initial investment in developing an application can turn out to be high, making it a risk for businesses.
  2. Apps take longer to develop, especially when you go for the native approach, as each OS requires separate coding.
  3. Unlike websites, applications undergo a strict review process by the OS platform, which makes launching them a difficult task.

Nevertheless, most of the e-commerce businesses are going for app development, as it is beneficial for businesses in the long term. Moving further, let’s take a look into e-commerce web development.

Developing an E-Commerce Website

Websites are one of the earliest forms of e-commerce and are still highly popular. One of the reasons for this massive popularity of e-retail websites is that they can be operated on any device, be it a laptop, mobile phone, or tablet. All that is needed to use an e-commerce website is an internet connection and a browser.

This makes e-commerce website development an ideal solution for businesses of all scales, from a local store to an MNC. Moreover, the cost of developing a website is lesser than that of an app, and most of it depends upon the features you wish to add.

As a result, when you go for e-commerce website development, you can safely test your business ideas and get validation on them, ensuring safe expansion. Nonetheless, there are certain advantages and disadvantages of developing an e-commerce website.


  1. The initial investment to build an e-commerce website is less, and one can generate a high ROI by selling goods to the international market.
  2. You can significantly personalize your customer’s shopping experience by using a website’s cookies and AI technology.
  3. Developing an SEO-focused online shopping website will help you to secure a higher rank in the search engine, therefore increasing your market visibility.


  1. There is intense competition in this approach, as there are numerous e-commerce websites in every sector.
  2. The cost of hosting a website can be expensive for the e-commerce brand. This is especially the case when platforms go for third-party hosting services.
  3. Users require a consistent internet connection to interact with the website. This is unlike an app, where certain features work without the internet.

These are the factors that every business considers before making a choice on whether to build an e-retail website or application. However, it is equally important to take the customer’s views and preferences into account while developing an e-commerce platform.

Consumer’s Point of View

Consumer’s Point of View

Source: Field Nation

E-commerce website plan their business strategies upon their target market’s shopping habits and trends. As a matter of fact, most of the businesses decide upon the choice of platform (website or mobile application) by taking into account what is being used most by the consumers.

This is because consumers are the ultimate users of the platform, and delivering what they are looking for is a way for businesses to succeed in the e-commerce market. However, consumers also take the features, functions, and usability of the platform into account to determine which platform is better for them.

A lot also depends upon the nature and scale of your e-retail business. Generally speaking, consumers prefer applications when buying products from an individual brand. On the other hand, websites are preferred when a shopper wants to find and compare similar products from different brands before buying them. This difference is primarily because websites can be browsed on any device, while mobile apps need to be installed before one can use them.

In any case, using this preference alone and deciding upon the platform can turn out to be disastrous for a business. Various other factors such as budget, time to market, desired end results, and business objectives also play a significant role.

Out of all these factors, the time and cost of the platform are the most crucial ones. Therefore, it is necessary to take a deeper look into them to make a better choice.

Time-Cost Comparison: Online Shopping Website vs. Applications

While deciding upon the choice of platform to take a business online, businesses often analyze these two questions:

How long will it take to develop the platform?

And, how much will it cost for development?

Therefore, it is necessary that we do a one-on-one comparison between mobile applications and websites to find which one is a better choice.

Time Analysis

The time it will take to develop a platform is determined by various factors. Notably, the number of features, development team, and UI design complexity are the most prominent factors.

When developing an e-commerce application, we expect that the business owner will go for native approach and will develop separate apps for Android and iOS operating systems. Therefore, the time it will take to develop an e-commerce app will be quite high.

On the other hand, in case of website development, a business can benefit in terms of development time, as a single website can work on all operating systems. However, it is still important to create a responsive website design that gives an equally seamless UI on all devices.

Here is how much time it will take to develop an e-retail website and mobile application.

Platform Development Time

Mobile Application (Android + iOS)

2500 hours to 3000 hours
Website 1500 hours to 2000 hours

Cost Analysis

Cost is undoubtedly one of the most crucial factors in any scenario. A business considers the cost of developing a platform as the primary criteria before going online.

The cost to develop a full-scale application is highly variable. A lot will depend upon the number of OS targetted and the development approach. However, a way to control this cost is to develop an e-commerce app with only the MVP features. This will allow you to benefit from the application without making a hefty investment. As your app gains market success and generates return on investment, you can add more (advanced) features.

On the other hand, the cost of developing a website is undoubtedly low. This is because the website developers will not have to create a different website for different operating systems. However, adding complex features to the website like AI, AR, and chatbots can increase the final cost.

One of the best ways to control the overall cost of development, be it a website or an application, is to outsource development to an agency located in Asian countries. India and Vietnam are the most popular options in this case, as the agencies here offer high-quality results in charges as low as $15/hr.

Platform Development Cost
Mobile Application (Android + iOS) $50,000 – $60,000
Website $30,000 – $40,000

Now that you are aware of the cost and time it will take to develop an app and a website, it is time to go ahead and make a choice. However, with all these interesting options and approaches, making a choice can be difficult. Let’s go ahead and find what can be a better choice, an e-commerce application or a website.

How to Make a Choice?

We are clear by now that each of the platforms, i.e., websites and mobile applications have their own implementation. As a consequence, businesses often end up getting confused about which way to choose for their digital expansion.

One way to find the answer to this question is by reflecting upon the following points:

What is the scale of your business? In case of startups and individual brands, developing a website can be ideal. However, for businesses that operate with managed marketplace model (like Amazon), developing an app is preferred.

Do you want to offer a seamless experience? Applications, especially the native ones, are known to offer the users a high-end experience and enhance the customer experience. However, in case of websites, factors like high load time and crashes end up degrading the user experience.

What are your time and budget allowance? If you have a high budget and time for development, you can surely go ahead and develop a full-scale application. However, if these two resources are a constraint for your business, you can go ahead with website development for your e-commerce business.

What are your CRM Strategies? Undoubtedly, applications deliver a better CRM to businesses and are also useful for promotion and marketing, with features like push notifications. However, this isn’t possible in the case of e-commerce websites.

How often do you plan to undertake maintenance? It is generally easy to maintain and upgrade a website. However, adding updates to an app (particularly native ones) can be tricky, especially with features that require the use of high-end technology.

How important user analytics are for your business? Generally speaking, websites provide better and more in-depth analytics as they can efficiently track user activity on individual pages. However, coding an app that generates similar in-depth analytics can be a cost-intensive affair, as the development process will take more time and labor.

By determining the answer to these questions, you will certainly get clarity on whether you should build an e-commerce website or application. Moreover, this will also help you to thoroughly plan your development project and clearly define your business needs.

However, you should also know that one does not always has to choose between an app and a website for their e-retail business. There are many successful e-commerce companies that operate on both of these platforms. Want to know how to do this with a limited time and budget?

Bonus Tips: How to Get an E-Commerce App + Website in Limited Resources

Bonus Tips How to Get an E-Commerce App + Website in Limited Resources

As we mentioned before, there are numerous approaches to developing a platform. You can find many alternative approaches and launch your e-commerce business on multiple platforms. Here are some expert tips through which you can get an e-commerce website as well as an mobile app developed in a limited time and budget.

Go White Label 

White label solutions are the best options when it comes to getting the desired results in less time and cost. You can get a white label e-commerce application and website in significantly less cost and time than a custom-made one. There are various agencies that offer ready-to-go solutions with a completely changed UI design to suit the requirements of your business.

Outsource Development to Asian Agencies

We have already discussed the low rates of developing a platform in Asian countries like India and Vietnam. These countries are also technology hotspots and therefore offer high-quality digital products at a lower cost. For instance, while the development rates in the USA are $100-$150/hr, the same in India are $15-$20/hr. Therefore, you can get top-notch results at a less price when you outsource to agencies in Asian countries.

Choosing either of these options can turn out to be an excellent opportunity for your business and help you reach a wider audience. Our recommendation is to develop an app as well as a website to target a wider market (app users and website users) and get the most out of your investment.

Summing It Up

E-commerce applications as well as websites have their own uses, benefits, and drawbacks. Therefore, to make the best choice among these platforms, it is necessary that you keep various business as well as customer factors into consideration.

This will enable you to get the most out of your investment and generate maximum returns. Moreover, once you determine the choice of platform, choose the right development approach (outsourcing to a freelancer/ agency, hiring an in-house team, or self-development) for optimum quality.

Nevertheless, with thorough planning and optimum analysis, both of these platforms will generate high-quality returns in the long run.


Writing has always been a big part of who I am. I love expressing my opinions in the form of written words and even though I may not be an expert in certain topics, I believe that I can form my words in ways that make the topic understandable to others. Conatct:

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