How Much Does It Cost to Build an App for Your Shopify Store (2024)
As 2024 approaches, many Shopify store owners are planning their marketing budgets by keeping an eye on the global recession.
You may also be feeling an increasing amount of pressure to expand your store on other mediums, for example, a mobile app.
However, that’s easier said than done.
Or, shall we say, it’s cheaper to say than getting it done.
Whether you are a small, boot-strapped brand owner grappling with cost constraints…
Or a large enterprise business intent on getting a highly customized mobile app…
This blog post will demystify the financial considerations of building a mobile app so that you realize what type of app is feasible within your budget.
Understanding app cost factors
From coding to design, there are multiple reasons why mobile app development can be an expensive affair.
In this section, we’ll deep dive into them so you know what to expect financially so that you can make informed decisions that align with your business goals + budget constraints,
1. Complexity and Features
Instead of looking at costing through a numerical lens, Shopify brand owners need to understand the complexity of the features; the intricacy and technology required to implement them also play a critical role.
Ergo, for apps with basic functionality, e.g., product listings, a shopping cart, and a simple checkout process, development is simpler and less costly.
Apps with advanced features, like augmented reality (AR) or virtual try-ons, complex and personalized UI, and integration with custom backend systems, need a higher level of technical skill and expertise, not to forget extensive testing, all of which increases the cost.
2. Platform Choice
Do you want to design and develop an app for iOS, Android, or both? Begin by finding where your largest share of the audience is.
Hybrid and web app development costs can range from $13,000 to $16,000, whereas single-platform apps could cost you between $8,000 to $14,000.
While it’s important to have your app on both stores for a wider reach, developing an app exclusively for either can be more cost-effective as each platform has its own programming languages and design guidelines.
Alternatively, with cross-platform development, you can build a single app that runs on both iOS and Android, but the money saved by reusing code can compromise performance and user experience compared to native apps.
Remember to input future expenses as well. Each platform will need regular maintenance through bug fixes and updates, which can differ in cost based on its complexity.
Regular updates are crucial for bug fixes, new features, and compatibility with the latest OS versions.
3. Design and User Experience
A well-designed app not only attracts users but also increases the time spent on the app, leading to better engagement and retention. While visual appeal is important, it doesn’t trump an intuitive and user-friendly UI.
You also need skilled designers who understand the latest app market trends. This phase tends to be time-consuming, as it entails creating multiple iterations of wireframes and prototypes before landing on the final designs, all of which increase the cost.
Another key consideration here would be whether you choose a custom design (tailored specifically for your brand) or a template. The latter is more cost-effective but can come off looking unoriginal and generic, turning potential new users off.
Remember- advanced features like animations, custom graphics, and interactive elements require more design and development efforts, which will also add more cost.
4. Development Team
One of the biggest cost factors to building an app depends on the composition and expertise of your team and their geographical location.
There is also a difference between hiring freelancers, an in-house team, or development agencies. An in-house dev team means better control and alignment but will be more expensive due to overhead costs. Outsourcing is more pocket-friendly but needs careful management to ensure quality and to meet deadlines.
The higher the expertise and experience, the higher the fees. However, investing in this area is likely to lead to an app that has fewer long-term issues.
For example, according to one study, it was found that beginner developers tend to cost around $30 per hour, intermediate developers around $60 per hour, and senior developers approximately $120 per hour.
5. Timeframes and deadlines
For apps with basic features, the time to build is relatively shorter, ranging from a few weeks to a couple of months. Whereas, more complex apps with advanced features, custom designs, and integrations can take several months to over a year to develop.
Any delay in development, whether it’s because of technical challenges or changes in project scope, can also extend the time frame and, consequently, cost.
6. User Engagement
By integrating SMS, social media sharing, push notifications, and email sign-up forms, all of which are important for user engagement and community building, the cost of building the app becomes steeper as each feature typically takes 25-145 hours to develop.
Some of these might use existing APIs and will make integration simpler and cost-effective, whereas any custom development will increase your app development spending, along with the time taken to build them.
A complicated or clunky checkout process can severely impact your conversions. This is why when you launch a mobile app, you need to invest time and money into creating a seamless checkout page with multiple payment methods.
Moreover, users need to see that this process is reliable and secure, like the PCI DSS stamp for credit card processing, establishing the need for highly skilled developers to take this up.
8. Data Encryption
To continue on our point on reliability and credibility, another factor is equally as important.
With rising concerns about data privacy and the stringent GDPR policy, encryption has become a necessity. Brands need to protect sensitive information such as personal details, financial data, and login credentials.
The development time for incorporating encryption into a mobile app can range from 10 to 80 hours. As with all points mentioned in this article before, the complexity of the data being protected is the reason for the wide range of costs.
9. Infrastructure and IT Support Costs
Infrastructure costs will depend on factors like data storage, data delivery, servers, app hosting, development tools, and libraries, all essential for the app's foundation and performance.
These add both cost and complexity to the project.
Alongside spending to build, you have to spend to maintain it as well. Continuous technical support, important for maintaining app quality, will add to the cost.
10. App Publishing Costs
It’s not enough to work on your ASO- there is a stipulated cost for publishing as well. Android's Play Store requires a one-time fee of $25, whereas Apple's App Store charges an annual fee of $99.
Additionally, if you want to distribute your app exclusively within your organization, you’ll need to add $299 annually for an Apple app, whereas Google Play does not charge for this service.
Cost-Friendly Alternative: No-Code Shopify Mobile App Builder
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the various factors and average app dev costs, there is an alternative.
At Shopney, to help brands launch a mobile app, we’ve built a standout mobile app builder specifically tailored for Shopify stores.
We have user-friendly templates and a design-builder, where your app can have features like live chat and push notifications from the get-go. Our pricing structure is also designed to accommodate businesses of all sizes, keeping in mind scalability needs.
Most importantly, we will ensure a support team is aligned with your objectives, providing personalized assistance for your success.
So, if you are looking to expand your digital presence by building your app, reach out to us today!