How 7 E-Commerce App Development Trends Transform the Retail Industry in 2021

As part of my job at app development company Global App Lab, I help our clients to understand the future of mobile commerce. Even as e-commerce app development trends change, one thing is for sure. Retail is moving increasingly towards mobile apps.

The future of e-commerce app development is very exciting. Even as e-commerce app development trends change, one thing is for sure. Retail is moving increasingly towards mobile apps. 

Are you already doing enough to appeal to mobile shoppers? Believe it or not, despite all your efforts, you might be completely off-track.

What do changing m-commerce trends mean for businesses? For users, they certainly imply shopping is going to be more efficient and convenient. That’s where things get interesting.

It’s crucial for app owners to keep their fingers on the pulse! 2021 is quickly looming into view. Therefore, there’s no better time to familiarise yourself with m-commerce market trends.

One mobile commerce user might have different needs to the next. However, there are several assets to m-commerce that will enhance the UX for the year ahead. Let’s explore current mobile commerce trends and what businesses can do to take advantage.

M-Commerce Market Growth

You probably do plenty of mobile browsing and shopping in your spare time! You’re not alone.

A very healthy outlook bolsters the future of mobile commerce. MerchantSavvy states that mobile sales may be worth around $3.56 trillion across 2021. It’s a threefold increase from 2016 to 2021. 

Oberlo, using statistics from Statista, advises m-commerce was worth $2.91 trillion in 2020. Their statistics also suggest 67.2% of all e-commerce arises from mobile use. Therefore, it’s hard to argue mobile commerce doesn’t have a place in 2021.

Oberlo also makes a great point that 90% of mobile shoppers want more. By more, they are looking for smoother experiences. Therefore, it’s safe to say the future of m-commerce is going to revolve around the UX.

Google’s push for ‘mobile-first’ also keeps this in line. Mobile e-commerce app development trends are likely to put users front and center. There could be an argument that this should always have been the case!

But here’s the clincher. Mobile shoppers are demanding more detail. Ultimately, they need more confidence in their purchases.

Therefore, this could mean an increase in product data and reviews, accessible via apps. That’s a good thing!

Of course, m-commerce trends will vary from industry to industry. It is why brands must prioritize development support for the year ahead!

Which 2021 Trends are Most Important in the Future of E-commerce App Development?

It’s easy to assume that e-commerce app development trends are unlikely to change, year on year. However, we can all agree, 2020 was a game-changer in many ways. The same, arguably, can apply to m-commerce!

Retail mcommerce, for example, is set to explode in 2021. With people forced to stay home in lockdown conditions, distanced orders have increased. An overall trend, according to the OECD, is rather telling.

Their data shows a 30% increase in home orders in the EU from April to April. It’s easy to argue that much of this comes from mobile. Statista shows at least a 17% leap in mobile internet access over four years!

Want to know what’s really going to take off in 2021? Here are the biggest trends in mobile shopping app development to keep an eye on.

5G’s Influence

5G is quickly emerging across consumer markets all over the world. As 21Twelve states, it will make mobile data perform 100x faster. Therefore, app development needs to follow suit.

  • Mobile apps in 2021 must be receptive to high-speed data. It’s going to make various emerging technologies easier to manage. We’ll explore some of these below.
  • In any case, ignoring 5G right now is not an option. As Apple enters the game with the 5G-ready 12 series, developers are taking note.

Wearable Integration

Wearable tech is no longer a niche interest. It’s not the flash in the pan many people thought it would be. Good Firms states that there has been a 15% interest spike in the US since 2016. 

Arguably, this could be due to the growth of fitness tech and, again, Apple’s watches. 

In any case, apps need to be even more flexible in 2021. Forbes states the wearable tech market could double next year. Therefore, responsive, fluid app development is a must.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality, or AR, hit the big time in 2016 thanks to the rise of Pokémon Go. However, many feel that AR will explode into mobile retail next year.

  • Analytics Insight weighs in on this with some exciting data. They predict AR booming from 2017’s $4.21 billion to a staggering $60.55 billion by 2023.  
  • These figures suggest AR is here to stay, at least in m-commerce.
  • AR could help customers view and evaluate products from afar. It’s an excellent asset for prototype development, too. Therefore, app developers must consider AR as a priority for 2021.

Rise of the Chatbots

21Twelve, again, weighs in on chatbots. Chatbots offer users a convenient way to find answers to questions. Instead of employing humans to answer every query, bots provide solutions through a digital library. 

  • Linchpin SEO states we could see an increase of chatbot use in online customer support next year. 
  • The firm’s stats show that around 47% of companies are likely to bolster customer care this way.  
  • More interesting, however, is the evolution of chatbots.  Linchpin believes they are going to ‘humanize’ in the years to come.
  • Intellectyx’s $1.3 billion valuation – by 2024 – backs this up clearly. Therefore, 2021’s apps should, by and large, have some form of AI on-board. 

Instant App Development

Instant apps are those which offer users’ free samples’ of software. For example, you may be able to access limited features without fully downloading. Good Firms states that instant app development is worth watching in the year to come.

When mobile shopping, quick gratification is vital. Downloading an app on 4G may not seem like a long process! However, as m-commerce becomes more efficient, installation times become embarrassing.

App developers need to be ready to ‘split off’ instant code and features. Users can take advantage of instant apps for instant support. There’s no waiting around for installation. There’s less need for committal, too.


App beacons will likely come back into popularity next year. 2020’s restrictions may curb this a little, but beacon enhancement is going to persist. That is, at least, according to WordStream. They advise that, by 2024, the beacon tech market will be worth more than $25 billion.

App beacons bring physical location data and mobile tech together. Via Bluetooth, mobile apps can connect with in-store beacons. Therefore, this can help to blend offline and online shopping channels.

Google assisted retail firms with this tech in 2017 when they launched ‘Project Beacon.’ This scheme saw businesses install beacons for free – thus expanding the market.


The Internet of Things, or IoT, is difficult to ignore. IoT revolves around devices communicating with each other. For example, you may have a home assistant, such as a Google Home Hub. You can use this to control connected light bulbs, thermostats, and more.

You may already have heard of ‘smart home’ technology. However, the same tech will apply to retail apps and mobile experiences in the year ahead. MH&L advises that around 80% of businesses could implement physical store interactions with apps. Much like beacons, this is another indicator that channel-blending is on the rise for 2021. 

How the Global App Lab Experience Could Help Your Retail Experience

The experts at Global App Lab regularly peruse the latest mobile commerce trends. Tastes and needs are always changing! Therefore, it’s essential to keep abreast of what everyday users demand.

For our team, the immediate future of e-commerce app development revolves around 5G. Mobile networks across the world are readying themselves for a big push. With major handset providers such as Samsung and Apple taking note, too, we’re not too far away.

5G is going to change the way that people use their smartphones. It’s not just going to impact entertainment and communication. M-commerce trends suggest apps need to prepare for faster data as a priority.

An outdated app in 2021 will be one that fails to keep up. Consider streamlined graphics, clearer menus, and more efficient asset loading. The difference in shopping from 4G to 5G will be staggering. Unfortunately, there’s a risk that too many businesses will find this out far too late.

We’re also paying attention to mobile commerce market trends surrounding AR. AR is no longer a gimmick or a fad. Traditionally used in gaming, it’s getting easier for retail firms to bring it into their apps. Greater confidence in your products will make all the difference.

It’s also vital to consider channel blending. ‘Omnichannel’ is a term we see more and more. It fosters the idea that we can blend physical store interactions with mobile app use. For example, future users may be able to create a basket in-app and pickup physically.

2021 may not be the year in which this becomes perfect, but the tech is on the rise. Both IoT evolution and beacon uptake are clear indicators of this. Seamless shopping is going to make our lives easier. What’s more, it could arguably be the savior of the high street.

Developers at Global App Labs aren’t just following the few m-commerce trends listed above. 2021 is going to be an explosive year for the mobile experience. It’s essential to work with developers who know the difference between fads and lasting trends!

Final Thoughts

Understanding the future of mobile commerce isn’t simple. Mobile commerce growth is well underway! All of the trends explored here are only going to expand.

  • Mobile e-commerce trends suggest faster is better. 5G is coming. Are your apps and mobile store experiences keeping pace?
  • Augmented Reality (AR) is one of several mobile commerce market trends that’s persisting. It doesn’t start and end with catching Pokémon. We’re looking forward to new possibilities in 2021.
  • 2021 will, hopefully, see in-store interactions head back to normality. It will be a crucial moment for apps to interact with beacons and IoT in-store. Therefore, now is the time to prepare apps for the omnichannel boom.
  • Above all, CMOs and business owners need to see app development in a new light. An app is no longer an add-on for your retail experience but a must. Projections for mid-decade suggest now is a pivotal point for development.

If you’d like to know more about developing a retail app, we’re here to help. Contact the team at Global App Lab for more insight into m-commerce market.