Converting Your eCommerce Website into an App So you have your beautiful eCommerce website all setup (and it only took 2 weeks!) and ready to make you some money. Then, the mobile app hits. You struggle along with just a website for a few years, hoping you won’t have to spend more money for another platform. But these days, were faced with some undeniable statistics: 51% of all internet traffic is on a mobile device compared to 42% of internet traffic on a fixed device. That means the time is here: you need to upgrade to a mobile eCommerce app. Fortunately, there a lot of tools out there today that can help swiftly and easily transition your website to an app. Plus, these tools have helped drive down costs, so you can make the transition for cheaper than ever. First, let’s quickly correct a misconception here. It’s not entirely accurate to say “transitioning a website to an app.” Ideally your app and website will become extensions of one another, so your website never actually goes away. From an digital marketing perspective, having both an app and a website encourages customer engagement and brand loyalty. Plus it helps you rank higher on a Google search! What’s is the primary purpose of a business? The exchange of services or products for some other service or product of a similar value. In other words, your end goal should be to provide something of value to your client, in order to receive something equally valuable (i.e. money). The more valuable a product or service is, more money you will make. A mobile eCommerce app is one of the best ways to provide extremely high value to your customers – a simple, logical way to access the products your business offers. Of course, it’s not quite that simple. After taking the first step – deciding it’s time to look at the how. Generally speaking, there are three broad types of app development methods: 1) Native; 2) HTML5/Web; or 3) Hybrid. The rest of this post will go into the best and worst of each method. Native Native apps have a reputation of being the best, but that isn’t really true. A native app is designed for specific platforms (usually Android or iOS) and generally speaking provide the best UI/UX and the most features. This is partly because Native apps are written with the same code as the device’s OS, providing clear communication and enhanced operability. Some of the specific benefits are: • Integration: Native apps integrate extremely well with a device. Accessing address books, browsers, phone, and camera (to cover just a few) with a native app is exceptionally easy and occurs almost flawlessly. • Performance: High performing apps do best as a native app. For an eCommerce app, this is especially pertinent. While you are probably not running a lot of animations (one of the best features of a Native app), your app will need to process lots of data and refresh quickly. • UI: The ability to use different types of touch gestures (called multi-touch) is a key feature of Native apps. Gestures like swiping, pinching, and multi-tapping are all possible with Native apps. It’s not all sunshine and roses though. There are a couple of downsides: • Lower Search Engine presence: Native apps aren’t as searchable (i.e. Google) as HTML5/web apps. This is especially big downside for businesses that rely on that search engine traffic (like an eCommerce site); • Single platform: Native apps need to be developed for each platform. This requires twice as much time and money to see the project to completion. Obviously, this represents something of a problem to the entrepreneur on a tight budget. HTML5/Web-Based HTML5 apps are sometimes frowned upon due to their similarity to website coding and a perceived lack of complexity. An HTML5 app is basically a series of websites displayed on your phone. Unlike Native apps, Web-based apps are a one-size fits all approach. For this reason it’s considerably cheaper – both in terms of money and time. As mentioned above, a HTML5 app has a higher search engine presence and is more likely to draw in more traffic. The biggest downsides to an HTML5 apps are the lack of features and serious issues with animated features. That being said, recent advances in UI frameworks have really improved the UI/UX of a web-based app. Additionally, improvements in CSS3 coding for browsers has really improved the animation processing issues. There is one absolute advantage that HTML5 has over both Native and Hybrid apps: Free Distribution. Native and Hybrid apps must be distributed over one app store or another. HTML5 apps are constrained only by an internet connection. Hybrid For the Entrepreneur with a decent budget a hybrid app maybe the way to go. A hybrid app is generally written in Java and HTML5, like a Web-based app, but is set inside a native container that allows users to access all of those great features a Native app provides. While the container doesn’t provide the identical look and feel of a Native app, it’s pretty cool. A Hybrid app can be stored on either a secure file storage (like a Native app) or a Shared SQL (HTML5 apps). The development skills needed are more broadly available (and easier to use). The price is middle of the road. So why wouldn’t you go with a hybrid app? Well, like everything, there are some negatives: • Still don’t have access to a lot of native device features like phones, calendars, address books, etc. • Performance is slower than a Native app – but faster than a HTML5 app. At the end of the day, it largely depends on the funds available. If you are not concerned about a budget, go with a Native app. If you are a startup, an HTML5 app might be the best option. My opinion is that, in most circumstances, a Hybrid app is the best of both options and provides the best opportunity for success. Ready to get started on your own app project? SDI has worked on 4,000 projects. With nearly 2 decades of business, we have worked on more transition projects than the average joe. We know what needs to be done for a successful solution that delivers immediate and sustainable value, plus strategies for growth. For a free consultation send us an email at email@example.com, or feel free to call us at 408.802.2885.