The New Approach to Mobile App Development for Ecommerce

There’s a new way to approach your mobile app development for ecommerce. It’s better for shoppers, easier on your IT team, and cheaper than the traditional app development model.

Let me explain.

The Traditional Mobile App Development Model Is Broken

Retailers are moving away from traditional mobile apps for ecommerce because they aren’t seeing a high enough ROI. According to a recent article in Internet Retailing, “more than 80% of IT, Research & Development, and Marketing professionals across the UK, US, and Australia think that apps could be over – believing that all forward-thinking organizations will be implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web Apps within the next year.” This is a huge shift, but it’s not without merit.

Of course, there are still good use cases for mobile apps, but they’re unlikely to be successful if you follow the traditional route to mobile app development. Native apps built in isolation from your website require a whole new codebase, which is a hefty investment of time and money. The total cost for an in-house or agency-built app can be anywhere from $100,000 to several million – and that doesn’t take into account the maintenance costs.

These traditional mobile apps will likely require an ongoing team of 3 or 4 full-time app engineers and there’s no predictable cost of ownership, since you don’t have any control over when operating system updates will happen. Not to mention, the turnaround time to update pure native apps is slow due to the nature of the app store ecosystem, which can leave your customers dealing with bugs and glitches.

Retaining the in-house app developers you require is also challenging. A large team is very expensive, and small teams are hard to keep around as app developers are in high demand.

On top of that, mobile apps for ecommerce tend to have a narrow reach. This combination of factors has led the traditional approach to mobile app development to have a notoriously low ROI. Retailers are now rethinking their mobile app strategy or abandoning it altogether.

The New Approach To Mobile App Development

Part of the reason retailers are able to make a shift in their approach to mobile app development is because of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). PWA technology has been steadily gaining popularity since Google Chrome engineer Alex Russell coined it in 2015.

PWAs offer an app-like experience on the web, but that same experience can also be deployed in app stores, eliminating the need to develop and maintain a second codebase for your app. By leveraging the same codebase from your website, you reduce the development and maintenance costs associated with the traditional approach to mobile app development. Plus you retain the ability to leverage native code to access full device capabilities when needed. The best of both worlds.

You can also skip the tedious app store submission process for content updates, as most content is shared with the web. The new approach to mobile app development also removes the necessity to hire expensive native engineers because you can write the majority of your native app in JavaScript.

The Road to a Mobile App

With this new approach, retailers build their PWA in about 3 months, giving an amazing experience to every mobile web shopper (which is where the majority of your shoppers are now, FYI). For those loyal customers who do want an app, you can then package and deploy your PWA to app stores with minimal work, no additional subscription cost, and a very short turnaround time.

As you can see, the new approach to mobile app development is definitely faster and easier than the traditional approach. A win-win for your brand and your customers.

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