How to Build an eCommerce App with a Big Social Media Following [Case Study]

throne

eCommerce, marketplace, and community based apps are lighting up the App Store.  And for good reason.  Apps like Throne have done the work and it's paid off with 250 thousand downloads and 300 thousand community members. I started off selling gold coin packs and upgrades within my apps.  Now, apps like Throne are going full blast and making big bucks selling actual physical products within their app.

Throne was developed by Peerbits, a web and app development company with proven expertise in delivering customized mobility solutions.  With 65+ passionate designers and developers, Peerbits has served 250+ clients from more than 35 countries.  So yeah, they know what they're talking about.

Because of the HUGE demand in community driven apps and marketplace, I reached out to Peerbits to get their input on what the scoop is with these types of juggernauts.

Learn the 5 Steps Peerbits used to create a big following and money-making marketplace.  Peerbits lays out the steps they used so you can re-create their success with your own apps.  In addition, Peerbits shares some of the major components and 3rd party services and frameworks they use and rely on.  Enjoy!

-Carter

Mobile App stores are flooded with the eCommerce apps.  If you're looking to create your own eCommerce app, you need to make yourself standout from the competition.

It's crucial to gauge market requirements and deployment tactics before setting out to build an eCommerce app.  In this post, we will dissect Throne (previously known as InstaSneaks), an extremely successful app that was developed to capture the passion of sneaker enthusiasts by providing a comprehensive platform to showcase, exchange, and sell sneakers amongst the community members.

You will learn the strategies we used to create a hit app that generates thousands of dollars a month, and how to repeat our success with your own project.

Throne is a simple, engaging, and mobile-first solution for buying, selling, and discovering rare sneakers. Community members are required to share pictures of their sneakers in the Throne mobile app. The basic idea is to connect users to others within the same fraternity, i.e.; the sneaker lovers.

With over 250 thousands of downloads, Throne has gained 300 thousand community members cumulatively over various social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). It is important to note that throne is a native app made solely for iOS to carve a niche amongst iOS users.

When we began working with the code, it was messy. Our client provided us with a code to build off of, but taking an already fragmented project is always a risky task especially if it involves a lot structural and componential changes. While it came pre-designed and coded by previous developers, we were assigned the task to re-write entire sets of code as per the new design requirements.

In addition, knowing that it was an eCommerce marketplace app the social integration was inevitable, and not to mention, it also required referral deployment and integrated e-wallet elements. Our first task was to update the code and get things started to make it a successful community driven eCommerce app.

In order to create a hit e-commerce app, you need to follow very specific steps. Here are the steps we used to create our successful e-commerce app.

STEP 1: Creating a Signup and Login page for Throne

Facebook loginTying up users with the app is of paramount importance for Throne to build it's community.

Getting a Throne account was a necessary action. To do this, we implemented a log-in feature so members can have a profile that reflects their tastes, likes, dislikes, and a list of other members with similar interests.

Adding an option to log in with Facebook was arrayed so that the community members can take forward the same level of enthusiasm even on social media.

Account integration with social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter:

vendors

As mentioned earlier, the intention to integrate social media was to allow users with an additional platform to share their pictures, views, and ideas.

Also, it is possible to be a vendor at Throne as it can open the floodgates to a thriving community that is equally passionate about sneakers. It was a strategic call where Anen (our client) wanted to filter out vendors from community members. Therefore, we went on to make a different login to separate users from the vendors.

STEP 2: Creating Animated Splash Screen

Anen had a different vision when it came to how Throne should offer a platform to its users. The core focus was to increase the stickiness by improving interactivity.

The animated splash screen was integrated to keep users engaged by intriguing them for a longer time.

This is where developers take advantage of their creative liberties by weaving in various UI elements for added interactivity. Knowing that UI features can significantly contribute to enhancing UX, we integrated tinder-like swipe mechanics.

STEP 3: Using Upload and Other In-App Interfaces

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For the added interactivity to enhance the user experience, we roped in plenty of in-app interfaces that can connect users with others.

Users can add pictures, upload them, and share them amongst other community members.

Also, there is a provision for members to comment, flag, like, and share the sneakers they find fascinating.

Step 4: Creating Custom Filter screen
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Customized search was one of our topmost priorities during the development of Throne. While we had all the control over its UI, we took the task to re-design the search filters.

Our aim was to deliver refined results, and therefore we deployed the best possible filters that ease up user’s search task.

Step 5: Building Mix Panel Actions on Different Screens

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There were plenty of features that we implemented on our own to elevate holistic UX.

With a single aim to unite the community on a single ground of ‘sneakers’, we implemented the best possible, uber-cool features and gestures that appeal to niche users.

UI alterations are possible at this stage, and this is the reason why our developers went ahead to integrate pull-to-refresh screen for added interactivity.

Step 6: Creating an Order Summary

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An order summary is an essential part of any e-commerce application. Allowing users to have a final check before making payment solves a greater purpose of order clarity.

Along with pricing comes other details like shipping fees, taxes, and discounts. For Throne, we created a single step checkout point where the order summary reflected the details of purchased items followed by a one-touch payment option.

But as we all know, great apps are not made by just having great features, we also needed a comprehensive UX/UI. Building a robust eCommerce marketplace is full of challenges. One of the major challenges was to include Branch.io.

Referral Code Integration

The core task for any community-based eMarketplace is to have a strategized referral program.  You can create a referral program with Branch.io to host discounts and e-wallet in the application itself. Branch.io is an open source mobile linking service from Branch Metrics. The Branch Metrics SDK lets developers integrate their apps with marketing elements like deep linking, contextual deep linking, organic, paid & referral attribution, along with an app-to-app communication.

Integrating a referral program and w-wallet was a difficult task for our developers. Throne’s community strived to join like-minded people under a single umbrella.

The app created a scope of drawing other people for building a community by using referral programs and different discounts that allowed users to earn rewards in the form of referral points. The incorporated mechanism was to cumulate reference currency in an e-wallet for availing discounts on next purchase. And this is where the Branch.io referral SDK and APIs comes to play.

Here is the regressive coding that went inside Throne for fetching social media and marketing referrals.

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Developers were able to drive desired results based on this code. With the efficient deployment of the branch SDK, we rolled back all the glitches that came with the old code.

Another task was to implement tinder-like swipe gestures within the app for enhancing UI. The goal was to integrate coding for the Swipeable view like Tinder as a part of application walkthrough.

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Developed with Xcode 6.4, and Objective-C language, Throne was a dedicated native app for iOS users. Plenty of frameworks were used in making Throne a successful project. Here’s the entire list of frameworks that went inside building Throne.

  • FBSDK – was used primarily to integrate Throne user’s account with their Facebook account.
  • Bolts – Bolts is a collection of low-level libraries designed to make developing mobile apps easier by making organization of complex asynchronous code more manageable.
  • branch.i0 – was aimed at generating referral codes and discounts for the end users.
  • Mopub – a hosted ad serving solution built specifically for mobile publishers.
  • Fabric – track crashes and user behavior within apps.
  • Crashlytics -involving Crashlytics was a very strategic move as it was mainly responsible for maintaining crashes within the app.
  • Twitter – social networking service.
  • iAd Support – advertising solution (no longer supported).
  • GLkit – provides functions and classes that reduce the effort required to create new shader-based apps or to port existing apps.
  • Addressbook Framework – utilized for fetching contacts from the user’s friend list so that they can invite their friends, use referral codes, and earn benefits for the same.
  • MessageUI framework – used for communicating with the other Throne users via messages.
  • and much more.

Making a community market is a big task, but promotion and marketing are equally as important. It is essential to market an app in a structured way so as to hit the right audiences.

Throne was aimed to cater the needs of sneakerheads in the US, and it did so in a perfect manner. Starting an underground digital movement was not easy for Anen (owner of Throne) and catering to the needs of the urban millennial community is always challenging as one needs to be ready to face tough competition.

Marketing campaigns

A genuine and quality product is bound to appeal users, and therefore the word of mouth plays a significant role in marketing niche products. Throne dictates unprecedented user confidence simply because of its idea.

Though word of mouth publicity has its issues with longevity and therefore it is essential to undertake certain marketing activities necessary to drive constant traffic. This is the reason why Throne does a lot of Facebook marketing as well as CPC ads to drive traffic. Anen believes these marketing tactics are useful to keep things pumping, and leading the flow of new users consistently.

All the Instasneak users became a part of the new app marketplace – Throne. With our efforts to offer a best possible solution for already existing Instasneak users, we along with the founder’s vision, engraved a history by transforming an idea into a movement.

Drop a comment below if you have any questions about Throne, or eCommerce and community driven apps.

Reach for the stars,

-Shahid

Shahid Mansuri
Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 6.52.24 PMShahid Mansuri co-founded Peerbits, one of the leading mobile app development companies, in 2011.

His visionary leadership and flamboyant management style have yielded fruitful results for the company.

He believes in sharing his strong knowledge base with leaned concentration on entrepreneurship and business.

Being an avid nature lover, he likes to flaunt his pajamas on the beach during vacations.

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