An Introduction to Cross-Platform Applications for Retailers

While hybrid applications can help cut costs, cross-platform applications can help in increasing profits, user engagement, and flexibility.

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Over the years mobile applications have evolved substantially into becoming a necessary touchpoint to most consumer-facing businesses. The 2020 pandemic forced the remaining business owners to adopt applications as their primary touchpoints as the behavior of their target consumers drastically changed due to various factors. According to App Annie, a mobile data and analytics company, consumers spent $143 billion on mobile apps in 2020, an increase of 20% from 2019. 

The highest percentage of mobile adoption was seen in the retail industry. Business leaders were now focused on conceiving better ways to use technology to up their competitive advantage and drive their profits while adapting to being in almost unfamiliar territory.

Brands like Nike that recognized the value of having a digital presence and invested in diversifying their business channels thrived in the first few months when the other brands tried to catch up. Shopify, an eCommerce platform was able to achieve a growth of 10 years in just 3 months. Major brands decided to invest in building a singular app from scratch that represented all the verticles of their businesses while other brands did the opposite by building a singular, shared codebase for multiple apps for multiple business vertices.

A few of the brands like Apple, Baskin Robbins, Amazon, and Swiggy took a  smart approach by adopting a hybrid way to establish faster feature release cycles across platforms.

Are Hybrid Applications still relevant?

At the time, the adoption of hybrid applications saw a huge rise among brands that did not want to waste time and resources and opted in favor of reusing their existing web infrastructure for their mobile needs. A report by followanalytics.com tells us that around 74% of the retail iOS applications on the Apple store are hybrid applications.

While this seemed like a good idea at the time, business leaders are now realizing that while they were able to reduce their costs substantially, the hybrid apps are not able to provide performance and the seamless user experience as the native applications could.

Hybrid applications were an obstacle in themselves when it comes to providing the users an ideal User Experience.

While the relevancy of the hybrid experience could work for a certain type of business, other retailers realized that they needed to take a different approach. With this epiphany, came the realization that individually creating native applications for different platforms i.e, Android, iOS, and Microsoft would cost them a substantial amount of resources in all forms. 

The Advent of Cross-Platform Applications

The solution to the problem came in the form of cross-platform applications. While it did cost substantially higher than hybrid applications, it reduced overhead and resources by allowing businesses to write a single code for all the platforms at the same time. This enabled faster and simultaneous feature releases while providing a seamless user experience.

Cross-platform applications are evolving to offer experience on par or even better than their native counterparts. With the ability to simultaneously cater to different platforms, cross-platform applications offer the flexibility of providing consumers with the best possible experience.

Why should business owners adopt Cross-Platform applications?

The first and foremost reason that a business owner or brand should consider switching to cross-platform applications is that they feel that the alternatives would not be able to provide benefits that cross-platform applications could. Once ascertained, leaders can make effective use of the applications to create common experiences, maintain feature parity and break dependence on platform capabilities. Applications can be built with an efficient team of developers maintaining a single codebase, saving a lot of time. Another advantage of cross-platform applications and an important one to consider is the cost associated with development and maintenance. These applications offer a very low cost on both fronts while achieving a faster time to market. The biggest advantage of cross-platform applications is providing consumers, a consistent and seamless experience across platforms.

Summing up, cross Platform applications can help retailers reach a bigger audience without the costs that other applications incur. Enabling platform consistency improves overall experience while reducing cost. Finally, they open up a lot of new opportunities and have immense potential to upscale themselves for the better in the near future.