Cross-Platform mobile development doesn't just enhance sales but also creates new frontiers for eCommerce such as monetizing faster deliveries and other special logistics services, making it easier for global customers to shop and order in their native languages and changing how people browse and shop by optimizing searches through deep links that are embedded within the apps.
Even regular retailers throughout the global community are now exploring the benefits of marketing B2B products, so eCommerce companies face performance pressures from constantly evolving business threats and customer buying behaviors that are often defined by loyalties to their mobile devices and favorite mobile apps. Logistics providers are facing smaller profits on increased revenues, which generates opportunities for eCommerce companies that can offer their customers enhanced delivery speeds and innovations at premium prices along with the proprietary apps that monitor the process.
Mobile app development, which once seemed like a lark but has become a competitive necessity in eCommerce today, scares many company decision-makers who worry about the high development costs and long lead times. Designing a proprietary app that only works on one device generates an average development cost of $27,463. This work and disbursements for expenses must be duplicated for Android, iOS and Windows to achieve anything approaching universal market penetration. That's where the Xamarin platform comes in handy for even the largest eCommerce companies where budgetary issues, profit margins and cost-value analyses often define the success or failure of marketing initiatives. Xamarin is an open source platform that teams of internal programmers and consulting business partners can use to write cross-platform .NET/ and C# to generate fully functional apps with native user interfaces that can take advantage of the best features of customers' mobile devices. The platform also offers its celebrated TestCloud where programmers can debug their apps on up to 2,000 devices and get them ready for distribution at the Apple App store for iOS apps and Google Play for Android applications.
The development process
Decision-makers can slash their development budgets with Xamarins framework because even the simplest project typically generates learning-curve expenses, licensing fees and other costs just to rewrite code that the company's programmers have already generated. Programmers can code for iOS or Android exclusively or code for all platforms by using Xamarin.Forms. Xamarin lets developers write code in C# without needing to learn another language, and the platform compiles the code for all the other operating systems. It's entirely possible that company programmers can reuse up to 80 percent of their existing C#/.NET desktop code when building apps. Xamarin offers many out-of-the-box templates and efficiencies that will save tremendous coding time while allowing designers to customize interfaces with intuitive tools like Xamarin custom renderers. Developers get faster results, lower costs, astonishing testing and debugging resources and immediate certifications for distribution at Google Play, Apple App and other distribution centers.
Xamarin app development takeaways
App development can be as simple or as hard as eCommerce companies want to make the process. The more complex the app, the longer it takes to develop and debug the project. The basic requirements include familiarity with C# language and .NET framework implementations. If coding for Android, developers use the Xamarin Studio IDE and its plugin for the Visual Studio. Xamarin provides an installer for Java, Google’s Android SDK and its own tools for compiling code.
Developers can build Windows Phone apps using Microsoft's Visual Studio, and Microsoft recently bought Xamarin after a successful global partnership
Building iOS applications requires a Mac computer that runs Mac OS X. Developers must install Apple’s Xcode and the iOS SDK and plugin to compile code.
Developers can code for iOS, Android, or Windows applications individually or collectively. Xamarin.Forms enables programmers to write code once and compile apps for multiple operating platforms, which makes mobile app development simpler and less expensive.
Xamarin offers many resources for new or inexperienced coders to get up to speed on mobile app development. These include lab-based classes, online tutorials, live support and guest speakers. However, anyone who knows C# can build a basic, functional mobile app in an afternoon using Xamarin's layered architecture, templates and code-sharing techniques.
Development classes cover everything from basic coding to advanced applications for an annual fee per developer, but many of Xamarin’s resources are free and available online for instructions, troubleshooting and reviewing.
Developers can share code in Xamarin in two ways to simply cross-development: using Portable Class Libraries and Shared Asset Projects.
- Shared asset projects
This is the simpler of the two methods of sharing code. The common code stays in the Shared Asset Project folder. There are separate naming conventions for AppAndroid, AppWinPhone and AppiOS. These projects can use platform-specific references, and this method works only when developers don't plan to share code with other developers or projects.
- Portable class library
This method of sharing, although more complex, allows developers to share code across multiple projects. The code is also shareable with other PCLs.
Using code sharing strategies
Developers can share code using open source technology like the SQLite database engine. This engine reads and writes code for application sharing in the API layer. SQLite is built into the iOS operating system and Android systems that run API level 10, which is Android 2.2 or higher. Xamarin enables developers to share up to 75 percent of app code, but there are also device-specific ways to share code among Android devices, Windows phones and iOS and Mac operating systems.
Many app stores require testing apps and meeting key standards before they're accepted for distribution, and the Xamarin framework platform offers developers the finest resources available for testing their apps. Xamarin TestCloud and device simulators can mimic up to 2,000 specific devices for testing, and Xamarin's code compilations qualify apps for automatic approvals at the Apple App Store and Google Play. Key benchmarks that could cause apps to be rejected include slow loading times, frequent crashes and oversights that lead to automatic edge-case denials of geolocation information requests.
Practical ecommerce strategies on both sides of mobile app development
Today's markets demand complex logistics options from their B2B suppliers. Mobile app development can provide elegant solutions to these demands while generating greater customer loyalty and satisfaction. Using deep linking techniques, B2B companies can even share their advantages with other customers through SEO best practices and Google- and Apple-generated generic marketing through Xamarin-generated apps. Customers increasingly initiate Internet searches directly from their apps, Practical strategies for mobile app development include writing once and compiling for multiple operating systems with Xamarin's open source platform and using Xamarin's suite of application-development and code-sharing tools.
It's also important to choose the right eCommerce platform for business -- one that's truly scalable, modular, responsive to eCommerce needs and highly customizable. Hundreds of vendors offer software, but few offer platforms that integrate with all ERP and CRM systems, support mobile app technologies and provide the kind of back-end excellence that ensures each customer enjoys a great and consistent user experience across all the company's websites and Web pages. Studies show that customers who visit eCommerce websites from app links won't return if they have inconsistent or frustrating experiences.
How Clarity can help
Clarity understands eCommerce, app development and the Xamarin platform, and our team of engineers can help you customize your eCommerce software to deliver dynamite user experiences to each app user. Our team of coders, scholars and computer nerds can help you troubleshoot issues if your app development team is experienced or provide easy-to-learn guidance if app development is a new company initiative. Call or contact Clarity today for a consultation on mobile app development or a free price quote.
Contact Clarity with any questions about Xamarin development or for a free consultation.