This is another blog post which got inspired by discussions at the hybris partner/customer event a few weeks ago. A lot of questions were around finding the right strategy for mobile. By now, it should be clear that mobile is an important touchpoint and not having any mobile experience, is clearly gonna hurt in terms of customer satisfaction and ultimately sales. So I am not gonna discuss whether mobile in general is useful. I guess most of us agree that mobile is a must. If it is 10%, 20% or 30% of all transactions does not matter, it is already important enough. From discussions with some of hybris’ customers I also know, that some even have up to 50% mobile usage and transactions.
Conquer the Desktop
If you are new to online, the first question will be: “Should we go after mobile first?” At this point, I believe that the majority of sales transactions is happening on desktop browsers, at least for most product categories. This means, number one is the desktop web. When it comes to hybris, this means you can use the hybris Accelerator products to get a decent and quick online web presence.
After that, you should go for mobile. Last year, we introduced the Accelerator mobile template, which essentially gives you a smartphone-optimized web presence. The good thing here is that it is “mobile web”, meaning you create it once and whatever smartphone browser on whatever OS is browsing it, it looks fairly decent. This should be a first step towards mobile and I believe having mobile web optimized web pages is a really good one.
Go Mobile Native
With hybris 5 we are now introducing native mobile apps which use the OCC commerce APIs as a backend. For us, this is the next logical step for mobile. While the mobile web gives you a relatively quick way to be mobile, the mobile native apps will give you the chance to improve quality. Also, you have the possibility to be on your customer’s home screen, reminding them to use your app. The one thing that is critical here, is that you need to add services on top of the shopping experience. This will largely decide if customers download and install your app (and keep it installed). Ideas around these value-add services could be geofenced wishlists, reminders, CMS content, push notifications for deals and coupons, etc. This is really very specific and needs to make sense in the context of the customer. With the mobile native apps, you have the possibility to go to the next stage and create these experiences.
Sadly, you need it all
So that means you need both mobile web and mobile apps. Yes. That sounds like a whole lot of work and certainlyit will come with a few complexities. But there seems to be no other solution at this point, as you simply have to be where your customers are – and some happen to be on the mobile web and some prefer mobile apps.
An interesting outlook and topic for further discussion is responsive web design, e.g. creating a web presence that fits all screen sizes. This would basically merge step 1 (desktop) and step 2 (mobile web) into one step. It would give you a “one-fits-all” presence on the desktop, tablet and mobile (and whatever comes next and has a browser). This does not mean you’ll slash cost by 50%, but I data on the web suggests that with a certain overhead of cost for the desktop web development, you can get a decent responsive web presence. You’d then still need mobile native apps, which means a lot of specific, native app development (I told you I don’t believe in hybrid apps already, so that is not an option here…).
One way to further optimize all channels is by using the OCC commerce API for all channels. And yes, that means putting your API at the center of your strategy and serving all channels from the API, including the desktop web. Why is that a good idea? Because it will keep the cost low over time. As new channels emerge, new mobile apps have to be connected, etc. you already have a well maintained and capable API which will give you a lot of flexibility and save time and cost.
In hybris 5, we are adding important features to the OCC commerce API to make exactly that happen. We added OAuth2 with support for all defined flows, so diverse clients (server-side web, client-side only web, mobile apps) can choose the best OAuth2 flow to connect to the commerce functionality. We introduce CORS, so a web browser can connect to the API without security restrictions. And of course, we will evolve the API over time and continue to add more features.
Let me know what you think!