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Unprepared Ep 35 - Why You Need A Dedicated Mobile App for your Ecommerce Brand with Sterling Smith


  • [00:00] - Intro
  • [00:28] - What is a dedicated mobile app?
  • [02:55] - Advantage and analytics of mobile apps
  • [07:04] - When should you have a dedicated app?
  • [08:26] - Where to find Sterling 
  • [09:09] - Sponsor: Rewind


Key Points:

  • Sandbox Commerce is known as a no-code solution and headless & omnichannel commerce. 
  • Sandbox helps Shopify customers, retailers, and brands build native mobile apps by using a drag and drop app builder.
  • The Sandbox Commerce team handles all the technical back-end aspects and launching of the mobile app to IOS and Android app stores. They also teach brands how to use the app once it is launched. 
  • A native mobile app often costs around $200,000 to build using the status quo which is why retailers and brands don't build one. Meanwhile, Sandbox lowers the price starting at $99 a month.
  • A dedicated app isn’t something that a startup business should do. Don't put so many things on your plate when launching a business.  
  • The target audience of a dedicated mobile app are brand loyalists. These are the loyal customer base which are the 20% that generate 80% of your revenue.
  • Apps are created to encourage consumers to shop and learn more about the products which provide a higher conversion rate. 
  • Retailers leverage push notifications to increase engagement and the percentage of abandoned cart responses.
  • You cannot learn more about your shopper than if they have installed your mobile app and are using your service.
  • Sandbox can give digestible information to let brands and retailers know who their customers are. Brands can also use one of the 16 integrations they provide like Klaviyo, Urban Airship, Twilio, etc. 
  • These powerful tools help retailers increase engagement, understand who the customers are, and sell more. 
  • Sandbox are powering curbside commerce solutions and grocery store delivery apps. 
  • There’s not a better user experience than Sandbox Commerce since there's not another one that has been standardized on mobile for native mobile apps.
  • If you're thinking of moving from BigCommerce to Shopify there's no lag time and the transition from one platform to the next is seamless. Plus, you can do this without losing continuity to your customers 
  • For post-COVID days, Sandbox are working on digitally native direct consumer brands that at 99$ a month are launching a native mobile app when they launch their Shopify store.


Chase Clymer 

All right, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Unprepared. Today we're welcoming to the show, Sterling Smith.

Second time's the charm. We're gonna make it work from Sandbox Commerce. And we're going to talk about Shopify apps. How are you doing? 

Sterling Smith  

Hey, Chase, thanks for having me. 

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. So when we talk, whenever I say Shopify apps, people usually think about apps in the App Store. But this conversation is gonna go a whole different direction. 

So let me just, since we're kind of pressed for time on these, I'm just gonna hand it over to you and let you give them the spiel and talk about why someone might want their own dedicated app for their Ecommerce brand.

Sterling Smith  

Yeah, high-level overview, Sandbox Commerce is what's known as a no-code solution. We're also headless commerce and that we help Shopify customers, retailers, and brands build native mobile apps by simply dragging and dropping. 

It usually takes anywhere between 15 minutes and 45 minutes for Shopify customer, retailer, to drag and drop away into building a fully native iOS and Android app for their brand.

And our team, once they hit Publish after that 15 to 45-minute sprint, we handle all the technical backend shenanigans and facilitate the launching of that mobile application to both iPhone and Android App Stores. 

Once the app is in the App Store, we don't stop there. We actually teach you how to drive that Lambo. I think I told Chase offline that the typical native mobile app cost around $200,000 to build using the status quo. 

And so for that reason, many emerging brands and retailers have been resistant to building a native mobile app. But we actually lower that cost as little as 99, starting at $99 a month, everyone starts at $9 a month. 

But to that point, most retailers don't know how to drive a Lambo. They don't know how to basically use push notifications, leverage push notifications about being an asshole. As well as all the other things that native mobile apps do for brands. 

And so the short answer to who's the mobile app for and why would you consider it? Short a mobile app is for, it's not for the window shopper. It's not for the casual person who's not familiar with your brand. It is for the brand loyalists. Your customers, the 20% that are generating 80% of your revenue. 

We're here to create, or a mobile app is there to create that experience that encourages them to shop more, spend more time, learn more about the products, and they're proven to have a higher conversion rate. And so short answer that who the mobile app is for.

Chase Clymer  

Oh, man, you had so much awesome stuff just in less than three minutes. There's actually a clock on this thing on purpose.

Alright, so let's talk about a few things there is pushing push notifications is probably one of the major advantages of having your own iOS or Android app, a dedicated app, something that you're gonna download from an App Store, onto your mobile device. Now, I'm sure there are other advantages and I know of one. 

Sterling Smith  

Yes, there are. 

Chase Clymer  

I know of one that so many of you are very good softballs. Let's talk about the analytics you can pull out of this stuff.

Sterling Smith  

Oh, yeah. So there are a couple. I wanted to hit on the one that is, without a doubt universal. Every one of our customers leverages push notifications to increase engagement. And to also handle to increase the percentage of abandoned cart responses. 

But yeah, analytics. I mean, you look no further than likely the Starbucks app that exists on each and every one of your phones or most of your phones to understand how valuable a native mobile experience for brands and retailers can be. 

Starbucks has really, they're leading the game in helping brands and retailers, or helping...they're using their native mobile app to truly understand who their customers are. We've learned at Sandbox that you cannot learn more about your shopper than if they have installed your mobile app or using your service. 

And so part of what our job is through our engaged dashboard which our customers typically leverage once their app has been pushed to the App Stores is to make that digestible and really make the information that I provide you guys with digestible information about who your customer is.

And provide you an opportunity to use one of the 16 integrations we provide with Klaviyo, Urban Airship, with Twilio for push notifications and text messages. All these weird names. 

But powerful tools to really help our emerging retailers increase engagement, understand who their customers are, and sell more. And one of the things, I guess you're asking, you're looking for a few other things that make a native mobile app truly unique for brands and retailers. 

Lately, post-COVID, we're powering more grocery store delivery apps to think Instacart than ever before.

That's kind of a new discovery that we've had at Sandbox Commerce. And then we're also powering really interesting curbside commerce solutions. So really, that buy online pick up curbside. 

There's not a better user experience than Sandbox Commerce today. There's not another one that has been standardized on mobile for native mobile apps either. So super excited to kind of be trailblazing on that front as well.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I mean, the buy online pick up in-store solution was something everyone was kind of laxed on originally. But now it essentially evolved into this curbside pickup to make sure everyone's staying safe. 

But yeah, having a QR code on your phone, here's my order, or a barcode or whatever.

And just like having everything talked together and having it be seamlessly integrated, which I think is something we really briefly just glossed over is the fact that this is so well already just integrated into most people's tech stack. 

Sterling Smith  


Chase Clymer  

You guys just fully integrate with Shopify, which is obviously gonna be a lot of people that are watching this, but WooCommerce is hopefully coming soon. 

Sterling Smith  

Got it. 

Chase Clymer  

And a few other ones. BigCommerce, I know. You guys on Magento yet?

Sterling Smith  

Yeah, I mean, on these super podcast friendly podcasts, we don't really talk about the others. But we are headless and omnichannel. So just because you brought it up Chase, I'll say a one-liner. 

If you are thinking about moving from BigCommerce to Shopify, there's no lag time. You can come on board today. And whenever you switch over to Shopify or vice versa, it's seamless. 

We're one of the only providers that I'm aware of that allows you to seamlessly transition from one platform to the next without losing continuity for your customers.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, that's actually something for a lot of people to consider. So let's talk about we got about a minute here left before I want to sign off. 

Let's talk about when should someone be thinking about a dedicated app in their journey? Maybe orders or just sales metrics? This probably isn't something you should do as a startup. But where should it make sense?

Sterling Smith  

And I know your head's at that. We've been on one of these chats before. I know you're very metrics-driven, which I appreciate. 

But what I'll say is what we're seeing early on and these early kinds of post-COVID days, we're working with digitally native direct consumer brands that at $99 a month, are launching a native mobile app when they launch their Shopify store. 

So you know, but from a metric standpoint, tradition, what we said is that we see retailers who are generating at least 250,000, and annual recurring revenue being a strong fit because they already have a customer, a loyal customer base, that 20% that generates 80% of the revenue.

And I'll pause it. I know we're getting close on time.

Chase Clymer  

No, yeah, you answered it correctly both ways. If you are launching a new store and you want to have an app launch with it, by all means, I know that they have a great solution over there. 

But don't put so many things on your plate. When you're launching a new business, you should definitely be very laser-focused on your market on your offer. So don't really try to have too much for your launch. 

So before we go, if someone's interested in building their own native iOS or Android app, how do they get ahold of you?

Sterling Smith  

Yeah, so visit us at sandboxcommerce.com. One secret that's really a big secret these days, if you need to extend your trial or you want a little more time to experiment, feel free to either shoot me a DM on Twitter directly at Sterling Smith reach out to us on intercom. 

You know, obviously, building a mobile app cost typically a lot more than $99 a month but it's important for us to show value before you start shouting out the big bucks. And so that's one of the value add for using Sandbox Commerce. But thanks for having me, Chase.

Chase Clymer  

Yes, thank you so much.

Sterling Smith  

Yes. Cheers, brother.

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