What Are Native Apps?

A native app is an app for a certain mobile device such as smartphone, tablet, etc, installed directly onto the device. Users typically acquire these apps through an online store or marketplace such as the app store on Google Play.

The fundamental premise of native apps in ecommerce is to provide shoppers with fantastic shopping experiences. The optimised user experience is the main reason shopping apps are associated with really powerful statistics that business owners and ecommerce managers love:

1 Increased Conversion Rates

In Europe, mobile shopping apps have at least 3 times higher conversion rates than mobile websites. (Check out our Lazy Oaf case study below to see a real example of these stats in action.)

In the Middle East, mobile shopping apps typically have 6 times higher conversion rates than mobile websites.

2 Increased Average Order Value (AOV)

Customers browsing on apps are more likely to make a purchase than those on mobile websites. Not only that, but customers using apps also tend to spend more money. Our Oud Milano case study later in this article shows how implementing a mobile app led to a 71% increase in AOV.

3 Revenue Uplift

Increasing conversion rates and AOV of course leads to an overall uplift in revenue, which is one of the main goals of the app. It is also important to note that although there are clear financial benefits of having an app as part of your omnichannel strategy, apps also provide retailers with a great way of providing additional value to their customers that their existing ecommerce channels cannot.

There are also a number of other tangible ways native apps can improve the shopping experience, ultimately paving the way to better customer relationships and more sales.

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Rich Brand Experiences

Apps can provide customers with immersive and rich brand experiences, such as presenting content more effectively to users or leveraging cutting edge technologies to provide customers with new ways to shop.


Blogs can often be quite unresponsive on mobile websites. Using an app to re-engineer how a blog is presented to customers is a really slick way of giving apps a more community-centric feel. It can help the reader feel more engaged with, and buy into a brand more readily. This in turn increases the likelihood of customers revisiting the app to gorge on content. This research piece from Criteo gives further insight and includes data that reveals how apps are an integral component of modern shopping behaviour.

Augmented Reality

AR shopping experiences are becoming more commonplace. From IKEA, allowing you to place and view furniture in your house to check it fits, to a John Lewis app that allows people to virtually try out thousands of lipstick shades, it’s an emerging technology that is finding fun and practical uses to persuade people to buy. Lazy Oaf also has an AR experience that allows you to view shoes in your real environment before deciding to buy them.

Loyalty Schemes

Retailers also often use apps as a way to increase brand loyalty. A great way to do this is through loyalty schemes, for example the integration of The Pulse Boutique with LoyaltyLion.

There are many benefits of loyalty apps - brands are able to monitor points easily on an app, and automatically send highly personalised reminders to customers via push notifications, for example - Urban Outfitters is a great example of this in action.

As customers use their phones so regularly, apps are in front of them more often which means usage of the apps is usually high.

Location-based push notifications can be used for more relevant incentives.


Apps allow brands to build an audience that enjoys exclusive access to product launches, discounts and content in a way that other mediums don’t. Product drops and future events can leverage app technologies such as push notifications to notify users of early access, helping to drive hype and buzz around what the brand is doing.

Native vs Non-Native Apps

Native apps use the device’s native operating system. Common native coding languages are Kotlin (Android) and Swift (iOS).

Pros of Native Apps

  • Fast to load
  • Responsive
  • Offline caching
  • Loading content in the background allows users to browse products if they're offline such as on the Tube etc.
  • Leverages phone payment tech like Apple and Google Pay

Cons of Native Apps

  • Expensive: developing native apps is labour intensive
  • Developers for each platform are needed
  • Discoverability: cannot use SEO to point people towards the app; need to use landing pages etc.

What Options Do Shopify Customers Have?

1 White Label App Builders Like Plobal & Tapcart


  • Fast to implement as using a pre-existing framework
  • Cheap to maintain. App app updates and bug fixes are taken care of in your monthly subscription
  • It is possible to build and edit parts of your app yourself
  • White label providers have a good grasp of how Shopify works


  • Limited design capabilities as a cookie cutter approach is used
  • Customers must conform to a predefined template.
  • It is not possible maintain brand look and feel or identity of your brand
  • Limited number of integrations with tech partners.
  • Customers are rarely able to integrate with all existing tech partners/ stack.
  • It is not possible to create bespoke features in white label apps, therefore your app will not be able to mimic features/ functionality that appear on your website - for example ‘Outfit builders’ of ‘Complete the look functionality’.
  • Unlikely to be able to provide functionality Shopify Plus customers require, such as Clone store support

2 Bespoke App Development (by an app agency such as The App Business)


  • Complete freedom when it comes to the design of your app.
  • This ensures design continuity across all ecommerce platforms
  • The freedom associate with bespoke app development will also ensure the app will contain all functionality you require
  • I.e. the app will contain and support all of the Shopify Plus related features you currently in your on online store


  • Expensive to set up and maintain
  • An app development company is unlikely to understand the nuances of Shopify
  • It is likely the app will take a long time to build

3 The Best of Both Worlds: Venn Apps

The best way to make your store stand out is building a great, unique brand - so why would you send your customers to a cookie-cutter app?

At Venn Apps, we build beautiful, bespoke mobile apps that bring your brand and store to life. We design from scratch with the latest technology to provide your customers with a unique mobile experience, synced perfectly with your existing Shopify store.

Our apps are powerful. Whatever your dream app looks like, we’ll make it happen. We implement dynamic functionality like:

  • Custom augmented reality experiences
  • Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • Push notifications
  • App-exclusive promotions and products
  • Blogs and rich interactive content
  • Limitless integrations

Venn Apps are fully managed, saving you money, time and hassle.

  • Permanent, always-on management, including support and upgrades of your app
  • Actionable weekly sales reports and insights
  • No extra work managing dashboards or app assets

And Venn Apps work everywhere, no matter where your business expands.

  • Translates for any market with Langify and Shopify language API
  • Built to work with all currencies
  • Equipped with Shopify Plus Clone Stores to easily duplicate and customise your store for any market

Case studies

1 Lazy Oaf: Native Blog Enhances The Work By LO’s Epic Content Marketing Team


Design and build an app for Lazy Oaf’s highly engaged customer base. Lazy Oaf wanted to give these users a platform to really engage with their brand - not just a typical shopping app.

The app has been designed around the Lazy Oaf blog, ‘Oafworld’. On Lazy Oaf’s existing mobile website the blog was not as accessible as it could be, and the app was designed to change this.

Headline features

  • The Shopify blog integration ‘Oafworld’ was designed collaboratively with Lazy Oaf’s in-house design team to create a content rich user experience.
  • The blog supports multiple embedded media types: Spotify playlists, YouTube videos, MP4s, GIFs
  • Product drop functionality
  • Multi-gender homepage
  • Native Apple/Google pay technology
  • Nosto AI product recommendations running through the app (fully native integration)
  • Shoppable Instagram

Headline Stats:

  • Top 100 shopping apps in the UK
  • 16.5% higher average basket size compared to online store
  • App conversion rate: 10 x higher than online store

2 Oud Milano - Shopify Plus Clone Store Support


Oud Milano is a fast growing Middle Eastern cosmetics company with over 80 stores globally. We were tasked with creating a fully localised app for their rapidly growing number of mobile customers.

Oud Milano is a Shopify Plus customer that uses clone stores to deal with regional currency complexities. They wanted an app that could deal with these clone stores and also support Arabic.

This kind of Shopify Plus clone store support is unique to Venn - there are no other companies that offer clone store support for apps.

Headline features

  • Apps powered by in-house Shopify clone store-switching technology
  • Oud Milano has 5 clone stores. Our technology detects which country users are in and shows them the corresponding clone store
  • This enables customers to checkout in their preferred base currency
  • This also enables Oud Milano to easily regulate what product is being sold in certain countries
  • Fully localised - App fully supports the Arabic language and right-to-left layouts
  • Integration with Judge.me to sync product reviews automatically into the app from the website
  • Apple Pay and Google Pay integration to ensure their customers have the most efficient checkout experience possible


  • 57% higher average basket size in app vs website
  • 71% increase in average order value for customers that have fully adopted the app
  • App conversion rate is 7 times higher than in the online store


It is clear that the ecommerce landscape has changed dramatically this year. With this in mind it makes sense, now more than ever, that online businesses tap into digital commerce technologies that allow them to capitalise on consumer behaviour to gain visibility in an ever-crowded space. Native apps are one avenue that can differentiate brands, and gives them exciting opportunities to connect with their customer base like never before. If you'd like to discuss how a native app could augment your business, contact Venn Apps for a chat!