With the world around us on a fastrack towards everything mobile, as business owners, it’s mandatory to look into running a whole business on a device that can fit into the palm of one’s hand.   

Languages, platforms, operating systems, and more  

Mobile apps are usually developed to run on iOS, Android, or Windows operating systems. The two most common methods of app development are native and cross-platform app development.   

  • Old is gold 

In the native app development, the source code is written independently for each operating system. This will ensure that the code aligns with its own UX guidelines and has more interaction with the underlying APIs. In the native app, the widgets and layouts used to build the UX is provided by the platform, compatible with the OS, making it the best performance cycle the app can run on, improving reliability. Graphics and other design elements will be rendered seamlessly in native mobile apps.  

Platforms and programming languages for native app development include:  

  1. iOS apps developed using objective c or swift.  
  2. Android apps developed using Java and Kotlin. (Kotlin is the official language for Android and for compatibility the framework allows co-existence of both languages in the same project). 
  3. Windows apps  
  • One code, multiple applications 

Hybrid app development is the process of developing a common source code and deploying it across multiple platforms. This reduces the time, effort, cost, and maintainability of developing separate apps for different operating systems. Ionic, PhoneGap and, Xamarin are some cross-platform environments used to develop hybrid mobile apps. Despite the many advantages of hybrid app development, the biggest drawback is portability across multiple platforms. In other words, quite a bit of work goes into making the hybrid app run smoothly on different operating systems. Even then, the experience will never feel purely native. There will always be a layer that sits between the app and the OS, which adds to the overhead. The effort that goes in increases the overall cost of the hybrid app. However, it is still less than developing individual native applications.  

Selecting mobile apps based on use cases  

They are completely portable and act as websites as well as mobile apps. They are basically web applications rendered to look like mobile applications and runs on a browser utilizing the web components. However, the PWAs are not equal to cross platform apps as they are not very useful for apps with heavy functionality and offline storage. For example, retailers use mobile apps for taking stock of inventory in the warehouse and if there is no network connectivity in the warehouse, the PWA does not have a reliable offline storage facility saddled with limitations, specifically on iOS.   

So, PWAs are best suited for information apps such as corporate websites, admin dashboard, and reporting apps (ie., apps that primarily only deliver information without taking in any input).   

  • Enterprise applications 

Enterprise apps are not apps used directly by customers, and, instead used by employees of the enterprise for internal operations. Apps that are used for such purposes need not be design-heavy but should be able to consume and handle large volumes of data.  

Enterprise apps should be able to seamlessly integrate with other backend systems and software like CRM, ERP, providers of authentication and authorization, etc.,  used by the business for smooth operations.  

  • Customer applications 

Most business owners are looking for applications that are highly user friendly, reliable performance wise and  can cater to their customer’s shopping needs, especially in the retail sector. Customer apps should be able to support HD images of products, multiple product images, videos, reviews, etc. Native mobile app development is preferred for such complicated usability.  

  • Advanced tech apps 

These are the kind of apps that are used for augmented reality, virtual reality, and gaming apps. Such apps are mostly graphics- and design-heavy, demand high performance, memory allocation and hardware dependency. So this cannot be developed as cross platform apps.  

Mobile apps truly need to reflect the retail entity’s business and functional needs and must take into serious consideration the target audience. The allocated budget and time to go-to market also play a critical role in choosing the kind of method used for mobile app development.   

Where to begin  

With more and more business owners looking at creating applications for various functional and business needs, some of the questions they need to consider before actually building the application are:  

  • What is the purpose of the app? 
  • Who is the target audience? 
  • Is the app going to lean heavily towards buying experience? 
  • What kind of platform should the app run on? 

In Summary  

Today, a mobile presence has become crucial for retailers. But before jumping right in and developing a mobile app, there are some critical questions that retailers need to ask themselves in order to make the maximum and best use of their time, money and resources. A successful mobile app should perfectly address the need at hand satisfying both the customer and the business itself. Read on to find out more.