Magento store: Best applications for multiple platforms

21.05.2021 Mateusz Rabiega
najlepsza aplikacja dla sklepu na Magento satysfakcja klienta

The creation of your own Magento store can be a time-consuming and costly endeavor. This is especially true when you want your app to work on multiple platforms. Usually, if you look for this type of application, you will be forced to employ couple teams; each equipped with an appropriate technological stack. This solution can also affect your project in a number of negative ways: inconsistent development process and additional costs. However, it is possible to have only one development team and create your Magento shop for multiple platforms. You only have to choose what’s the best application for your project.

After reading this article you will know:

  • how to reduce costs and delays of creating online shops
  • what strategies are best for creating e-stores for many platforms
  • what are the best apps for your Magento store and which ones work on many platforms

Magento store: what requirements do you have to meet?

In order for your store to be a real player on the e-market, you have to meet certain conditions. Firstly, make sure your Magento store is supported by the most popular platforms (Windows, Apple, Android) your customers use.

Mobile Gap still relevant

Most of the online traffic is generated by mobile devices with touch screens. This itself poses additional requirements before your development team. You have to find out who is your target audience and establish what types of devices they use for shopping. For example, if your store sells accessories for Apple devices, it should also have an app version working on iOS and OS X.

You have remember though that not only the Apple users could be your customers in this case. You can’t ignore users of Windows and Android, because they simply make up too big a share of the market.

Why is RWD not enough in creation of online stores?

The next challenge on our list are the non-stop growing expectations of customers, who use multiple devices. There are more and more differences in ways of in-app interactions and navigation, depending on the platform the customers use. This causes a situation where the industry-standard responsive web design approach (RWD) is not enough to satisfy all the needs of users. Therefore, a modern app developer has to search for new and better solutions. However, how can you meet the ever increasing expectations of customers and ensure the compatibility with multiple devices with only one app?

Creating online store for multiple platforms with one team – is it possible?

Let’s say you manage a Magento online store project and have come across this problem. You have only one development team and your aim is to make a Magento shop that’ll work on multiple platforms. What do you need to start with?

Magento API and consistent technology stack

Make sure that you have delivered the data needed for the development via API interface. Magento can offer you REST, as well as the growing resources of GraphQL. You can read about the most recent API updates in our article, here. So, if you use Magento, you should not encounter much problems in the first phase of app creation.

Next thing: you have to take care of consistent tech stack in your team. The technology stack is a set of various apps, programming languages, framework, and other IT solutions. The consistent tech stack means that all developers on your team should be accustomed to the tools used for a project. This not only is going to speed up the pace of work, but also secure you from any potential delays caused by absences and personnel changes within the team.

For example: a team, where only one developer has knowledge of technology crucial for the project success is dependent on this developer. You are dependable on them. On the other hand, when all developers have similar abilities, they can fill in for their absent colleagues. What’s more the shared knowledge level – consistent tech stack – simplifies the team cooperation and ultimately results in a higher quality of the created online store.

When you have ensured that you and your team meet the aforementioned criteria, you can start to think on what app development strategies you should employ.

Magento shop: what type of application should you choose for it?

The development path you choose is going to define what kind of apps you’ll be able to create. Each application type has its strong and weak sides, but which one is the best application for you? We divided these types of applications by platform.

developer thinks on which type of applications to use

Magento store: creating desktop app

When creating store application for desktop devices, it is necessary to prepare app versions for multiple desktop platforms. A good strategy is to utilize the headless front-end approach, also called headless CMS. With this approach your team will be able to create the front-end part of the app with the API prepared by your back-end developers. It’s a great solution when you want to build an app with frameworks, like JavaScript or React. Additionally, the headless CMS allows the developers to design the app’s front-end for many devices and platforms.

 A good solution, which works well with the headless front-end is Progress Web Application, or in short PWA application. The progressive apps are often used in creation of online stores for multiple platforms. They can seem as good choice, thanks to their possibilities of scalability and consistent UX. In order to create progressive apps for store on Magento, you can use the built-in tool Magento PWA Studio or its React version. The strategy described here is among the most popular and frequently used in this kind of development. The situation changes when you want to create Magento store for mobile devices.

Magento store: creating mobile apps

When creating store for mobile devices we have four main types of applications available to Magento platform. These are:

  • native apps,
  • hybrid apps,
  • progressive apps (PWA),
  • cross-platform apps,

Magento shop with native applications

The native apps are solutions dedicated for each system (Android, iOS, and Windows).

Native pros
  • high efficiency level – the apps can utilize the full potential of a device’s power.
  • more attractive UX – the same logic and components, makes it more responsive, comfortable and quicker interface.
  • high optimization level – thanks to the programming on the OS native code, the native app’s elements are highly compatible with the given device.
  • access to the built-in features – only the native apps can offer you access to all built-in functions of a device.

The native applications have also their weaker sides, which can make you consider if they’re the right tool for creating a store on Magento.

businessmen uses types of applications that work on multiple platforms

Native cons
  • high development costs – if you want to develop a native applications for all the popular operating systems, you will need an incredibly comprehensive and diversified technology stack in your team.
  • project fragmentation – because of the different tech stack, you will probably have to divide your team. Then you’ll have to develop smaller parts of one project. This can also lead to the necessity of hiring more professionals.
  • longer development process – none of your native app versions will share technological solutions and logic. This will lead to the need of additional dedicated steps in development.

The native application technology is one of the best apps when it comes to quality and efficiency. However, it is really troublesome to create it in short time with only one team. That’s why you should consider if this is the type of application that suits your needs and possibilities.

Magento shop with hybrid app

The hybrid solution is a mix of native and web technologies. You can create this app by using HTML, CSS or JavaScript, however, instead of browser interface, your app will work like a native one, available to download in an app store. This happens when to the technology called wrapping. Wrapping allows for the logic code to be read by other systems. The most known examples of the hybrid applications are indeed the iOS App Store and Amazon App Store. If you want to create your Magento store with this type of application, you can use software like Adobe PhoneGap or IONIC. These allows you to compile your preferred frameworks, which in turn simplifies app development. What other pros does the hybrid type of application have.

Hybrid pros
  • one programming language is enough – usually when developing a hybrid app you’ll use HTML or CSS. This means you won’t need a really advanced tech stack as was the case with the native apps.
  • quick development process – one code for all the multiple platforms and devices speeds up the production of the MPV app version.

Nevertheless, the saved up time and resources come at a price. Due to the code being shared between many different platforms, the hybrid applications must compromise in certain areas.

Hybrid cons
  • restricted efficiency – the use of web technology will restrict your application’s efficiency. It will also make it dependent on the device’s built-in browser, which can be unstable.
  • inconsistent UX – the hybrid application although working like the native one is still resembling an internet page. Its efficiency is unstable and the UX can often be conflicting in terms of operations and interactions within the app.
  • restricted access to the built-in features – each new functions on the device is going to require updates for the app to have access to it. This will consume precious time and resources.

To sum up the hybrid application is in fact one app version that works on multiple devices. Although it achieves our goal, the quality of your online store based on this technology will not probably the highest. How about we take a look at the next type of application, then?

Magento store with PWA application

Creation of online Magento stores with PWA is really smooth and simple thanks to the built-in service of Magento PWA Studio. What’s more, this tool has its own progressive storefront called Venia, which lowers the development and maintenance costs. Additionally, Venia offers the full spectrum of PWA solutions and is fully supported by Adobe. That means technical support and help from Adobe experts. What more advantages does it have?

PWA pros
  • one code for multiple platforms – just like the hybrid app, PWA utilizes shared logic. This simplifies and speeds up the development.
  • simple growth and store maintenance – thanks to the universal code, you don’t have to enhance the tech stack.
  • offline mode ready –  your customers can use your store app even without the Internet connection.

However, the pros of PWA also are the source of its numerous cons, with which the user has to live.

PWA cons
  • offline mode ready… but not always – there are certain conditions for the offline mode to work. The first one is the frequent use of an application. For example, after a week of inactivity on iOS, the application’s cache will be cleared. This means that the next time a user opens the app, they will have to re-download the cache content again. This could prove especially troublesome, if the user couldn’t access the Internet at the time. The customer wouldn’t be able to browse your offer and additionally would be forced to re-download the app’s content again. Which is a thing that they had already done. This could be dissatisfying for them.
  • unusual UX – some operations and part of app mechanics in PWA can be incompatible or simply different from the way a given device’s system functions. This could lead to unwanted UX confusion.
  • restricted access to built-in features – PWA is restricted by the given device’s browser possibilities.

Even though, PWA is one of the top tools used in development for desktop devices, when it comes to mobile platforms, Progressive Web Applications may not meet all of your requirements. That’s why you should consider cross-platform applications, instead.

Magento store with cross-platform applications

If you’ll decide to create your Magento shop with cross-platform technology, you’ll see it is very similar to the hybrid solution. What’s better about it is that that it offers more optimized operations for mobile devices. How does it happen? The code used to build the cross-platform application is interpreted for the native app separately for each mobile operating system. This kind of app is created with the use of Java frameworks: React.js and React Native. Additionally, when creating a cross-platform application with React, you can keep all of its PWA functionalities. That’s because Java’s framework supports Progressive Web Applications technology. You can also base your development on Flutter from Google. Let’s see what advantages do cross-platform apps come with.

  • high efficiency – the code is interpreted to native standards, which speeds up the program functioning.
  • high level of UX – consistency of the system components and logic translated to native standards keeps the UX on high level unlike the hybrid and PWA apps.
  • easy maintenance and growth – universal code working on multiple platforms makes the development easier and quicker for you and your team.

Nonetheless, even the cross-platform doesn’t offer ideal solutions. What restricts it is the limited access to built-in features. Still, the list of pros makes it the best application for multi-platform development.

Why is cross-platform type of application the best in development for multiple platforms?

The modern client requires the best quality possible, which cannot be delivered by hybrid and progressive apps. That leaves you with native and cross-platform solutions. Which one is easier in development and the best application type on the market?

best type of app for magento store

The development path based on the cross-platform technology doesn’t require you to expand your development team. Although, your staff will work on two technologies, they are still part of the same tech stack. As a result, the development process will get shorter. You’ll also have more freedom with dividing the resources to certain project phases. If you develop the cross-platform app with React , you’ ll be able to keep the  advantages, usually accessible only for PWA apps. What’s most important, cross-platform solution will lower the budget costs of your project implementation.

The alternative to the cross-platform is the native technology, which must be configured for each separate operating system. Therefore, this would require you to delegate three different teams with three different tech stacks. Additionally, such strategy would heighten the costs of building each app version. Versions that essentially would have the same exact functionalities.

That’s why building a Magento store for multiple platforms and devices with cross-platform application is the most efficient and cost-effective development path.

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