Developing a B2B E-commerce Mobile App Like Alibaba

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How to Create a Shopping App Like Alibaba

Alibaba isn’t your typical e-commerce app, as it’s aimed at selling products to businesses, unlike Amazon and eBay, which cater to customers. Creating a similar B2B online app is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. First, you decide on the app’s purpose and which features to include. Afterward, you need to create an appealing and user-friendly design. Finally, you will need to build the app using a suitable platform and launch it on the app store. This article will review Alibaba and answer the question of how to create a shopping app like Alibaba.

What Is Alibaba?

Alibaba is one of the world’s largest e-commerce sites, with a worldwide presence in China, the US, Korea, the UK, and more. It is not only spread across many countries, but Alibaba is also secure and easy to use. The company specializes in business-to-business transactions, connecting buyers and sellers, manufacturers, and wholesalers. The platform offers millions of products, from electronics to apparel, which can be shipped to customers globally. It also provides a wide range of services, including payment processing and logistics support.

The website and app offer businesses or customers plenty of distinctive options. First and foremost, they can buy products in bulk at a reduced wholesale price to resell them and make a profit. And they can also order customization to add their logo and brand design. If the customer is in a hurry to receive their order, they can order products with the “ready-to-ship” status. Customers can also directly contact sellers through the platform and chat with real-time translation. Their Trade Assurance Service provides customers with protection when paying online.

Brief Alibaba History

Alibaba was founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, a former English teacher, and 17 of his friends. The company started as an online marketplace for businesses to connect. Their first website was in the English language for global trade, and the second was for domestic commerce in China.

Investors loved the idea and funded the company with $20 million in 2000. In December 2001, the company hit a milestone of one million registered users.

Jack Ma’s apartment, is where Alibaba was founded, and where they launched Taobao in 2003, an online shopping platform. In 2009, 10 years after its establishment, the Alibaba Group celebrated by announcing the Alibaba Cloud, which supplies cloud computing services to online businesses and Alibaba’s ecosystem. They launched AliExpress in 2010, which is a B2C online platform.

In 2013, the Alibaba Group started an all-in-mobile strategy, connecting their online business with their offline business. The company launched multiple ventures in the following years and continued its successes, making billions of dollars.

How to Create a Shopping App Like Alibaba

The Traditional Development Path

To create an app like Alibaba’s, you need to understand how it works and what makes it a quality mobile app. Start by reviewing the interface and overall functionality of the app. How do you want your app to resemble it, and what features do you want to include in yours?

Then, you would need to assess the development process, budget, and timeframe. Your starting point is making a list of requirements to determine appropriate development tools. That way, you can set a timeline for finishing the app. Generally, it would take at least a year and approximately $80,000. The cost depends on many factors, including whom you’ll hire to design and develop the app. You can hire a local or overseas agency, freelancers, or in-house employees.

The development process starts with designing the app. A UI designer will handle the visuals, including the first mockup, while a UX designer will take care of user interactions with the app, including making the wireframes.

Afterward, the developers work on realizing the designs and making an operational app. You could hire two developers, one for front-end and one for back-end development, or opt for a full-stack developer. After developing the app, testing it is a must to reduce the number of bugs and errors. Then, you submit the app to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store for review before publishing.

Must-have Features When Creating an Online Shopping App

User Registration and Login

User registration and login are prerequisites for any e-commerce app. Users need to create an account to start buying and selling products without having to reenter their information. The registration form should be simple and secure, with authentication factors. It should include fields for the username, password, email address, and phone number.

Product Catalog

The product catalog is the core of any e-commerce app. It should include a list of all the products, including photos, descriptions, and prices. Product availability should also be added by the vendor and automatically updated. Clearly, products should be in multiple categories for users to effortlessly find what they’re searching for.

Payment Processing

How to Create a Shopping App

Customers prefer some payment methods over others. So, the app should offer multiple integrated payment options like credit cards, debit cards, cash on delivery, PayPal, Apple Pay, and more. The payment gateway should be secure and PCI-compliant to avoid theft and fraud.

Search Engine

A search function is essential because users would have to scroll endlessly without it. The engine should be fast and accurate to help them quickly find what they need. It should allow users to filter by category, price, availability, and more. The search results would include photos, descriptions, and prices for users to compare.

Push Notifications

Push notifications increase user engagement and keep your brand memorable for users. The app should be able to send ones containing updates, discounts, and more to keep users up-to-date. Moreover, the app should allow users to customize their settings to choose which notifications they want to receive.

Product Rating


Product ratings help potential customers make an informed decision about the quality of the product. Allowing buyers and sellers to rate products will build trust as customers can see what others think. The rating system should be carefully designed and include the option to add reviews. Reviews are helpful because, nowadays, people trust them more than promotional efforts.

In-app chat

Having an in-app chat feature is essential for B2B apps. It enables customers to communicate directly with vendors and customer support representatives. Additionally, it should have translation capabilities to facilitate communication between users from different countries. It also should be secure to safeguard users’ conversations and data.

Loyalty Programs

How to Create a Shopping App Like Alibaba


As a marketing strategy, loyalty programs are fantastic for rewarding returning customers. It encourages customers to continue buying from your app as they can collect points and redeem them for rewards. These rewards can be in the form of a points system or by giving away discounts and coupons.

Building an App Like Alibaba Using the nandbox App Builder

Introducing the app builder

The nandbox native no-code app builder enables you to create a native app without writing a single line of code, as its name suggests. A native app is one made for a platform specifically; for example, most popular apps like WhatsApp and Instagram are native apps.

Nativity allows the app to function and perform at its maximum capability. The developers at nandbox Inc. did all the hard programming work, so non-technical people like us can focus on implementing their ideas and getting creative. And you can do every step of the building process by yourself without needing the help of a designer or software developer.

Another issue that the nandbox app builder solves is time and cost. No need to own a fortune to build a native app; as an app owner, you only pay a monthly or annual subscription that fits your business need, and you can upgrade any time to scale up your app, increasing storage, bandwidth, or the number of users. And instead of waiting for long months before the app is finished and ready to be published, you will build it yourself in a matter of hours.

The App Creation Process

Designing an app is easy when you pick a ready-made template. You can create an online shopping app with the Amazon template in the e-commerce section. The template is fully customizable when you start creating the app; you can make changes to the interface and add, remove, or rearrange features. And you can certainly upload your brand’s icon to the app. Changes you make will be displayed on the app preview screen.

After designing and branding, you can start adding features from the +200 features available to nandbox users. Below are the features added when you select the e-commerce template. You can add additional features and configure them.

1.) Fully-operational Store

You can customize your store with a simple drag-and-drop mechanism, adding products, bundles, add-ons, and more.

2.) Add Multiple Stores

Create multiple stores within the same app to include all vendors and stores of different types.

3.) Simple Checkout

Additionally, you can create a smooth experience for customers with a simple and fast checkout process.

4.) Modern Menu

The nandbox app builder lets you design sleek, user-friendly interfaces that streamline the shopping process.

5.) World-class Payment Providers

The nandbox app builder supports two of the most renowned payment providers in the world: PayPal and Stripe.

6.) Engagement Campaigns

Engagement campaigns help boost your daily app usage and build a long-lasting bond with your customers.

7.) Digital Wallets

Clients can be rewarded for loyalty with special discounts and additional perks via loyalty programs.

More features you can when creating a shopping app:

  • Posts & Feeds
  • Direct Chat
  • Map Search
  • Search
  • QR Scanner
  • User Invitations
  • Video

Now you know how to create a shopping app like Alibaba! Start building your app by signing up for the free trial now!