If I told you we could build a fully functional m-commerce app in just 15 minutes, you probably wouldn’t believe me. And I wouldn’t be surprised. After all, everyone tells you that it takes weeks or months, and costs tens of thousands of dollars or euros. But here at Ombori, we’ve been developing a tool that will, quite literally, build your m-commerce app in minutes.
Earlier this year, for example, we built an app for Bygghemma, the leading online provider of home improvement products in the Nordic Region. Here’s how we did it using our Web2App tool.
The build process
To start with, you’ll need a responsive, mobile-web version of your Web site. We point Web2App at your site, and it extracts the key brand information: CSS, colors, menus, logos, etc. It then converts your Web site into a native format for iOS and Android, and creates versions for both phones and tablets. It strips out aspects of the Web layout that don’t work on mobile devices, such as page headers and footers, so that the screens look more app-like. It also integrates with standard platform-specific APIs such as the Apple Spotlight API for more natural searching, and adds in useful mobile features such as push notifications.
This process takes literally 15 minutes, at the end of which you have a complete version of your mobile Web site in an app. We can make adjustments to the layout by hand if required, but at this point, it’s basically ready to go to the app store. Once it’s been through their approval process, your app will be live and ready for customers.
Is it really that simple?
Honestly, yes. We spent about a year building Web2App, learning about how to parse different m-commerce Web site structures and coding standards so that we could easily create mobile apps. We spent a lot of time ensuring that the end result felt like a mobile app; for example, when you transition from screen to screen, the app fades between them instead of a hard cut like a Web site. There are, of course, limitations to what can be done with a tool like this: all you’re getting is your Web site in a native app. If you want a full-featured mobile app, with all the fancy bells and whistle, you’ll need to get it built the traditional way.
Web2App offers a useful first stage for businesses who can’t justify the cost of taking the expensive route. Within a couple of days, for very little cost, you can have something in the app stores, and be present on your customers’ phones. You’re getting increased customer loyalty, a new channel to communicate with them, and better SEO. That’s worth having.
We think of Web2App as the app equivalent of services like Shopify which enable businesses to get online fast and cheap. There will always be a need for custom app development, but for the majority of smaller businesses, a simpler solution will often suffice. And for larger businesses who want to take a first step into the world of apps, Web2App allows them to get immediate results and deliver ROI without any serious impact on the budget. From there, they can progress to a more traditional fully fledged app if they feel it appropriate.