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Shopgate Review: Best App Maker for Retail and Shopping

Shopgate Review: Best App Maker for Retail and Shopping
Credit: Shopgate

Note: Apple recently changed its iTunes App Store regulations, which can affect some no-code app makers. The regulation says "Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected." The purpose is to eliminate clones and spam apps that can be quickly created, but it may have an effect on small businesses that don't employ a dedicated app developer. Apple doesn't disclose which apps have been rejected or ejected from the App Store, so there's no firm evidence that this will affect those using any specific app maker, but it may. We are currently in the process of re-evaluating our best picks in this category and will be updating our list soon. Stay tuned! 

We recommend Shopgate as the best app maker for retailers. We chose Shopgate from dozens of app makers. To understand how we chose Shopgate, you can find our methodology and a list of app makers on our best picks page.

Shopgate offers flexible, flat pricing to suit your business's unique needs. It lets you easily create custom iOS and Android mobile apps for your online store as well as a mobile website. It also comes with phone, email and live chat customer support.

We like Shopgate because it offers the best value for retailers looking to create a mobile presence and set up a mobile storefront. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store, an online store or both, Shopgate offers an affordable, easy-to-use app maker that's packed with features to help you boost sales, increase customer engagement and grow your small business.

App makers that are designed specifically for retailers typically cost hundreds of dollars per month. This is because they usually work with advanced eCommerce and mobile commerce (mCommerce) systems that small merchants typically don't use. They also pile on a ton of enterprise features you likely won't use either.

Shopgate caters its services to your business's unique needs, which allows for flexible pricing that won't break the bank. Small retailers who don't need all the bells and whistles can get an app that fits their budget, and pricier packages are also available for businesses that need more out of their m-Commerce app. Contact Shopgate for a quote.

We also like that Shopgate offers a 14-day free trial, so you can test-drive the platform before signing up for a subscription. It is a risk-free trial that doesn't require a credit card or any payment information. Shopgate also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Editor's Note: Looking for information on custom mobile app development for your business? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need.

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Shopgate also wins when it comes to user friendliness. It offers a no-fuss app builder that starts with information about your store and then lets you create your app in just a few minutes.

To register for a free account, all you need is an email address and the URL to your online store. When you first log in, you're greeted by a step-by-step wizard that guides you through the app-building process.

Shopgate lets you create an app in four steps:

  1. Design. Choose from dozens of premade templates, and add your logo, graphics, and custom colors to match your brand identity and widgets for a custom mobile storefront. No tech skills required.
  2. Installation. Set up your store by connecting your eCommerce platform. Shopgate integrates with popular eCommerce services, such as Shopify, Magento, Volusion, WooCommerce, PrestaShop and more. It only takes a few minutes and all of your products are automatically uploaded and synchronized between your online store and app. This is a huge timesaver and takes the leg work out of manually adding, editing, and managing products between your website and mobile app.
  3. Settings. Add general information about your store, such as phone numbers and address. This is also where you can quickly set up payment methods – Shopgate uses a range of payment processors, including PayPal, Stripe and Billsafe – shipping options and tax zones. 
  4. Go live. Publish your app or preview it on your phone. You can easily preview your app on your phone without paying for and going through the submission process at app stores. Just enter your email address and the service will email you a link to preview your app, or scan the provided QR code.

Another reason we like Shopgate is that it comes with a bevy of features so you can get the most out of your investment.

Here are some highlights that make Shopgate stand out from other app makers for retailers:

  • Mobile SEO. Shopgate's mCommerce apps are designed for search engine optimization to rank high in mobile search results. It doesn't require any advanced knowledge on your part, so you don't have to be an SEO specialist for customers to find your store.
  • Marketing tools and services. Boost customer engagement and loyalty with push notifications, a store locator, coupons, daily deals, order tracking and more. Shopgate also offers marketing, where a strategist can help you review your marketing campaigns, target advertising, manage push notifications and further optimize your app.
  • Custom design. Shopgate comes with more than 60 premade templates that are appealing, easy to navigate and professional looking. Templates can be customized to your needs with logos, personalized graphics, color schemes and widgets. Shopgate also offers fully customized design services that optimize your app's design to lead to more purchases and customer engagement. 
  • Third-party add-ons. From eCommerce software to shopping carts to payment systems, Shopgate works with a comprehensive range of add-ons that your business likely already uses to make your app and the app-building process as seamless as possible. As mentioned above, Shopgate integrates with more than 60 eCommerce services to automatically pull and synchronize information from your online store into your mobile app. These include Shopify, Volusion, Magento, BigCommerce, 3Dcart and more.
  • Mobile payment systems. Your existing mobile payments system also works with Shopgate, saving you time and money from having to set up a new one just for your app. This way, customers can buy products directly from your app instead of being redirected to your website or a third-party service. Shopgate supports more than 100 payment processors, including PayPal, Stripe, BillSafe, Braintree and Amazon Payments.
  • Backend dashboard. Manage your app, measure and track performance, monitor analytics, view orders, generate reports and access other data. Shopgate's backend dashboard is also sleek and intuitive, making it easy to use and find information. 
  • Pages and content types. Many retail app makers solely focus on creating a mobile storefront. We like that Shopgate also lets you add different types of content, such as About pages, contact information, blog feeds and other useful information to help customers find and reach your business.
  • API. Shopgate is one of the few mCommerce app builders that give you access to its API for full customization of your app. The service offers a developer center, where you or your programmer can access everything you need to edit code and manage your app from the technical side.

Although we really like Shopgate, it has one major limitation that may be a deal breaker for some small businesses: the additional costs of publishing an app and accessing customer support. 

Limited platforms. Shopgate is limited to iOS and Android apps (and mobile websites). If you need to create an app for other platforms, check out Appy Pie, which lets you build an app for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Amazon and HTML5. [See Related: Appy Pie Review: Best App Maker for Small Businesses]

Limited pricing information. Because Shopgate offers flexible pricing and subscription packages based on your business's needs, the company website lacks details on pricing information. To find out how much your ideal app will cost, you'll need to contact a Shopgate representative for a quote.

Customer service. Shopgate offers phone, email and live chat support. You can also reach the company on social media. Based on our experience, the response time was longer than we expected compared to our other top picks. 

We were impressed, however, with how accommodating Shopgate was despite us not having a paid account. After signing up for free, we contacted customer support, posing as a prospective customer. We had many questions about pricing, setting up our mobile storefront and integrating payment systems, which the rep was more than happy to answer.

Shopgate also offers self-help resources, such as a searchable knowledgebase, webinars, products tours and video tutorials. 

Editor's Note: Looking for information on custom mobile app development for your business? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need.

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Ready to choose an app maker? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.