Shopping List App Development

Have you ever experienced that frustration when you lost a piece of paper with all the groceries that is required for today’s dinner? Or those “nice” surprises when the unexpected guests are gonna come in two hours time and you have no idea what to cook for them and a take-out isn’t an option? Believe us, we know the feeling.

Our life these days is fast and complicated, so the one thing we want is to get it organized and well controlled. Here comes the help! Forget about those annoying handwritten shopping lists, it’s 2017 and we have a perfect digital tool – mobile applications.

Shopping List Apps. Why people use them?

Needless to say, we live in a fully mobile world and we love it. One thing we do more often than others is shopping. We choose, buy, and pay via smart- or iPhones because it’s faster, easier, and cheaper. But the point is that most of us need a shopping list, we end up with impulsive buying and excessive spendings.

This is where the shopping list mobile apps are our salvation:

If you need more motivation to develop a shopping list application, here is NinthDecimal’s research, where they showed that 69% of customers use their gadgets to create shopping lists, and the number is only growing with each year. presents the results of an online survey, where the consumers were asked if they use a grocery list or simply browse when shopping for food online. Approximately 51% of the respondents cited that they typically have a list.

Types of the Shopping List Apps

Actually, there are a bunch of them from simple to the more sophisticated ones:

1) Digital Shopping Lists

Basically, the easy-to-use alternative to good old paper lists with an uncomplicated UI, built-in smart dictionary suggestions, and even the barcode scanners sometimes.

Digital Shopping List

There are also coupons that could be handled in various ways (printed, emailed etc.). Such applications allow us to share our lists with friends or relatives and be notified when someone makes changes or send push notifications if we need some item ASAP.

2) Built-in Recipe Books

More complex one where a grocery list is combined with thousands of recipes. Standard functions described above are entwined with the ability to automatically add to our lists needed ingredients from chosen recipes.

And then, here are the apps that categorize shopping lists and could make recipe recommendations based on the items we already outlined for purchasing. Sometimes, there is a cool bonus in the face of individual meal planning calendar (check out products like Yummly, AnyList, BigOven, and Paprika).

3) Coupons & Discounts Organizers

We like being appreciated for our regular purchases and save some money as loyal customers. So, there are shopping applications with that marvelous creative ways to control all our loyalty programs, coupons, and cashback returning.

Coupons & Discounts Organizers

Some products of this type also give customers the best suggestions regarding sales within their local area and compare discount prices in nearby stores. Based on our history of shopping, these apps generate or look for the most profitable coupons for the current shopping list. This feature helps enormously with the family budget planning (learn from Grocery IQ and SavingStar products).

4) Smart Shopping Apps

High-level apps advisers that offer basic features along with the strategic recommendations and tips on what we should or shouldn’t buy in the first place. They’re useful assistants in the field of controlling our purchases, expenses, and diet following.

Smart Shopping List

Here the shopping is light, convenient, and really smart because the app does everything for us, even automatically sorts through the list when one passes the needed store aisle.

5) Applications created specifically by supermarkets

As it said by the name, these shopping list apps designed for particular stores and their regular customers. Only via such applications, you can find hidden discounts, best offers, and coupons for the chosen supermarket. They also calculate spendings after a shopping list has been created, suggest the recipes, etc. (Walmart App, for example).

App by supermarket

Tips On How To Start With Shopping List App Development

This industry has just begun to expand the mobile market, so it would be wise to jump on the train and invest into the new promising product that would surprise the customers. The first development stages are always the hardest. You have to shape your idea, research the market and present the concept to you investors. In order to do so, you ask yourself – how to create such application? Let’s see 4 basic tips for starters.

Tip #1 Mobile Platform & Technical details

When you made up your mind about the type of an app you plan to build, it’s time to define the target audience and their location. Would it be serious business companies that will use your app or the average customers at local stores? Do you want to sell the product for US customers or plan to win over the European countries?

After this, you should choose the mobile platform, iOS or Android, for which to write the code and in what programming language to do so. Then consider the data input type that your users will be dealing with (manual, barcodes, a combination of them). These would be your starting points that push you to proceed with choosing the SDK, backend API, and other developer’s tools.

Tip #2 User Interface and Experience

The crucial thing here is that in a shopping list application an interface has to be precise and super friendly, comfortable and easy-to-navigate. Choose the simplest ways to impress your customers. As we always recommend, such apps like suitable colors and fonts, cool toolbar and settings menu.

Interface for Shopping List App

Keep in mind the 3 pillars that represent the end goal here:

So, the UX design matters, which means minimum taps maximum effect. The functionality should be on top and offer something unique to pursue customers to try your product. Also, don’t forget to design a nice memorable icon and choose a catchy app’s name.

Tip #3 Did we forget the features? No, we have a list!

Of course, the app is only that good as its features stack. Therefore, make a list of your own – write down basic features that you want to implement, range them from the most important to the least ones. Then you’ll see what you can add or what should be removed in order to reduce the development cost.  

Here are the must-have features in this kind of apps:

  • Registration / Login
  • Main menu with settings
  • The ability to create multiple shopping lists and edit them as user prefers
  • Option of adding items to purchasing list directly from the recipes
  • Search / sort filters for ingredients in the list
  • Shopping list reminders due to the daily need or planned purchase
  • Expenses tracker with nice infographics for users to control their budget
  • Sharing feature to exchange lists with friends or family
  • Archive for history of lists and purchasings (with restoring option)
  • Some gamification component to make the app entertaining for consumers
  • Push notifications about local events and targeted announcements
  • Offline backup
  • Loyalty programs (special deals, offers, coupon codes etc.)

It’s an approximate approach – any adjustments are up to you and strictly depend on the purpose of your product. But don’t get too excited, sometimes the less is better and a shopping list app doesn’t need difficult algorithms.

There are also other functions that are not so appreciated by some customers, therefore, you have to be careful choosing them:

  1. Strong geo-location without user’s permission
  2. Unnecessary social media integration
  3. Annoying amounts of notifications and ads

But if you still want to build more advanced application then we can suggest you add the next:

  • Analytics tools – for you to see what is going on within the app, how your clients use it, and how is marketing strategy doing.
  • Social Synchronization with the website's blog or RSS feeds to engage customers in the latest news about app’s upgrades and other events.
  • Multi device and multi language support – this will help to win over more customers around the globe.  

Tip #4 Plan your budget

Next thing you want to discuss as a developer is that how much it cost to make a shopping app. Well, it depends on what type of product you have in mind, its final goal, development approach (native or hybrid), project’s complexity in general (number of mobile platforms etc.), and the people you hire for a job to be done.

The price varies according to the number of working hours a team of mobile developers will spend building the application, their hourly rates, and localization. Let’s establish key elements that would help you navigate the budget in the right direction.

Note: we’ll define the parameters for one OS only – either Android or iOS.

These ones influence the cost most of all:

  • User Interface design (25-45 hours)
  • User experience (35-45 hours)
  • Essential features (around 125-200 hours, depends on the number and sophistication)
  • Back-end connection (155-200 hours)

The average cost for a lightweight MVP of a simple shopping list app is between $20000-$35000. This price is based on the global hourly rates in app development companies (about $40) and an approximate time estimation for one platform.


As you see, developing an uncomplicated shopping app that combines handy features, a user-friendly smooth design, and a touch of artificial intelligence isn’t that hard. But the process requires a creativity approach and bold efforts.

You want to compete with others on the marketplace? Shape a clear concept of the app that will simplify customers’ daily housework. Put all the tasks in order, so you could organize a strong and targeted marketing campaign. But bear in mind that a shopping list app shouldn’t be overwhelmed with unnecessary features, keep it super fast, modern, and entertaining.

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