6 min read

Discuss The platform, Cross or Native For App development?

Extend your brand reach to connect and engage with customers by choosing mobile app development for native or cross platform e-commerce apps.


The crucial significance of mobile app development in online shopping is best reflected by the fact that in US on black Friday sales 2013, the online shopping traffic through mobile grew to 39.7% of total online traffic. According to a report by IBM, smartphones drove 24.9 % of all online traffic as opposed to tablets at 14.2 %. While the sales through smartphones rose by a whopping 43% from year 2012, the tablets drove 14.4 % of all online sales, double that of smartphones which was 7.2% of all online sales. Moreover, the app installation too grew by 23%. Online shopping through smartphones and tablets is growing exponentially with more and more transactions every day, thus there is an opportunity for e-commerce marketers to extend themselves to customers.


Similarly, core issues as inventory management, order management can be effectively handled with enterprise mobility apps. While, on the customer front, mobile shopping provides a unique opportunity as a rapidly growing share of e-commerce. Shoppers as such use their smartphones and tablets to access online product information and reviews. While in many instances, a mobile optimised website is sufficient, However the imminent benefits of a mobile app development gets magnified when there are loyal repeat customers who make multiple purchases. The mobile space presents itself as a huge potential, because a well built mobile app targeted towards the right audience can achieve tremendous level of engagement. Users too will see increased value over time through deeper engagement by integrating seamless navigation and usability of the mobile.

However, the app must provide additional added benefits to the customers, secondly, the initial investments and ongoing maintenance costs should compensate for the added benefits. The mobile app must be a brand extension of the e-commerce brand and provide an alternate shopping experience. So when you as an e-commerce marketer seek to invest in the mobility space, you have the choice to either build native or cross platform apps. While both, cross or native apps have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. At the outset, the focus must foremost be on the target audience buying behaviour as the pivotal point for the e-commerce company.

The following are the challenges and benefits of native and cross platform apps.

Native Apps:
Native app is essentially a code configured using platform specific tools for an individual mobile platform or devices. Thus while for Android it is Java and Android SDK, it is objective-C and iOS OS for iOS. Native apps give better performance, responsive and consistent layout. It also allows access to all of device’s functionality and features. Developed for a specific platform, they cater to take advantages of all paraphernalia of device’s specific capabilities.

Cross platform Apps:
Cross platform apps are essentially web apps that run inside of a browser. The real benefit of cross-platform app is that developers can write the code once in one language and later compile them to multiple platforms. There exist a growing number of cross platform in both quality and quantity. It offers an opportunity to reach a larger audience across all leading mobile platforms.

In cross platform apps you can take advantage of HTML5 and CSS3, use javascript to write the code, deploy your apps to multiple platforms, even as you access native features. Ideally for a simple look and feel, the cross platform apps offer a standard performance and can be app ported across multiple platforms.

Following are the crucial points that merit attention:

The decision to choose between native and cross platform apps must be foremost based on two fundamental criteria namely the target audience and the budget constraints. The following are the others major criteria.

  • Development cost: While native app development demands huge investments of resources, it may although vary, according to the project, The cross platform apps are relatively cheap as they do not require a separate developer team and investment in resources for each new platform.  The time consumption process too is less and less resource intensive. While, the cost of building a native app for each platform may escalate further with each new platform.
  • Development skills: Native apps demand core skill expertise and a broad range of skills to ensure a successful and engaging experience. On the other hand cross platform apps reduce the overall development costs as they are simple to develop, even web developers can jump in because they support HTML5 and CSS3. Even the deployment costs are relatively low as it is easier to incorporate one development code into multiple devices.
  • Reusable Code: With cross platform app, the developer needs only ‘Code once and deploy many’. Thus, cross platform apps have one application for both mobile and desktops. On the other hand, native apps demand a different version for each mobile platform. Thus, cross platform apps are most cost effective and less time consuming. For developing cross platform apps to run on different platforms there are a number of frameworks such as PhoneGap, jQuery mobile, Titanium among others.
  • Plugins and easy support for cloud services: Cross platform apps offer advanced functionality with multimedia and interactive features. More overall cross platform framework provide access to plugin modules which can be further seamlessly integrated with other service/ tools. They also provide access to cloud support in-order to directly integrate with cloud services.
  • User experience: Native apps offer full device capabilities and faster performance. A rich UI and smooth user experience and enhanced security. While cross platform apps allow for easier discoverability on the search pages, cross platform apps being web based have a slower performance, limited access to OS and hardware API. Not that the visual and graphics do not provide a good user experience, they are just not of the same rich features as that of native apps. However, for e-commerce where content, images and products need to be changed constantly, the cross platform apps are better suited.

Generally in mobile app development, it is preferred to build a native app over cross platform app to fully optimise the device capabilities. Native apps also perform better and offer rich user experience. Developing, deploying and maintaining the mobile app is a huge resource intensive investment and a leap for an e-commerce company. Therefore,you must choose either native or cross platform mobile app development according to your unique business needs and resources.

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