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Tapping The Huge Market For Mobile-Optimized Apps


You may hear less about mobile these days, but it's only because mobile devices are so ubiquitous. Make no mistake, mobile—and mobile commerce in particular—is still massive. In 2021, retail mobile commerce sales exceeded $359 billion in sales and is expected to double by 2025. Moreover, Shopify’s analysis of last year’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday period confirms that mobile is (still) king.

As more shoppers continue to use their phones to make purchases, it should come at no surprise that Shopify merchants too are using their mobile devices to start and run their businesses. In fact, 47% of new Shopify store sign ups take place on mobile devices, a number that is even higher in mobile-first international markets across Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

For the team at Junip, a Shopify app that enables Shopify merchants to gather and display reviews and other user-generated content, mobile has always been a top priority. “It's easier to build than rebuild, so we made sure from day one to have a goal of the app being feature complete and fully usable on mobile instead of building then fixing later,” explains Stuart Arsenault, CEO at Junip.

I know using Shopify’s Polaris as our design system definitely helped make it easier to be mobile friendly. If we had to make our own design system from scratch, it would have been a lot harder.

The team's early investment in mobile has paid off. “We were shocked when we realized that a double-digit percentage of our Admin sessions are on mobile,” says Stuart. It's definitely an experience we care about quite a bit.”

It's not just the team's analytics that tells them building for mobile is essential. “We regularly chat with businesses using Junip and Shopify who don't have a computer, they run the entire company on their phone,” says Stuart. “I think for all businesses mobile-first is nice to have, but for the entrepreneur segment specifically, it's a need-to-have.”

Clearly, solutions that help merchants not only start selling, but also enable them to easily manage the day-to-day of running a business entirely from their mobile devices are needed more than ever, and are critical to developer success in our mobile-driven world.

But, it can be hard to know where to start. With that in mind, here are three best practices to help ensure a mobile-friendly experience, one that will deliver a superior experience for merchants as well as allow developers to stake their piece of the fast-growing mobile commerce market.

Best Practices for Mobile Optimization

There's a lot that goes into making a mobile-first solution, but thinking about these three areas, and planning for them from the start, will set you on the right path. 

1. Create responsive designs

  • App UI should adjust itself to fit within a smaller mobile screen to ensure consistent experience on any device.
  • Prioritize vertical scroll over horizontal scroll, and avoid using any horizontal scrolling elements if possible.

 mobile app scroll

2. Ensure core features are available

  • Core functionalities—promised by the app or theme management—should be accessible via mobile.
  • Your app should notify users when features are not available on mobile.

mobile error

3. Provide seamless setup

  • Apps that require theme setup should use theme app extension, app blocks and app embed blocks so that the merchant doesn’t need to manually make changes to their theme’s code.
  • Configuration and onboarding should be easy to follow and primarily take place inside the app.
  • Minimize the number of external web properties merchants are redirected to post installation.

As we shared earlier this year, we’re pretty confident that mobile is going to be a key area for developers to unlock opportunities for growth in 2022, especially in international markets. With these three best practices in mind, making your apps mobile-friendly will be easier to plan, build, and scale to success.

How do you build for mobile first? Share your experience in the comments below! And please know, we’re all ears for more feedback. You can share in the Partner Slack or Discord or reach out to partner support.

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This article originally appeared on the Shopify Web Design and Development blog and is made available here to educate and cast a wider net of discovery.
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