No etailer can afford not to be mobile: it is a plain and simple fact that consumers are increasingly hitting web stores from mobile devices – and if you are not there to greet them with a nice mobile experience then they are going to probably go away again. But there is a lot more to mobile than meets the eye.
Mobile and Magento come in three distinct flavours: there are the mobile apps that Magento Mobile allows you to build around your e-commerce site; then there are the mobile optimisation of your site using third party plug-ins and apps for the Magento platform itself; and then there are the tools available to let you monitor and interact with your Magento site from your own mobile phone.
Magento Mobile for apps
The official Magento Mobile product is really a simple way to get your etail presence into app form and into the apps store. The tool is an application that you have to add to your existing Magento package of services – free of charge – which you then use to configure your store front app to use the back end that your website uses.
In essence it lets you create apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices and manage them. It offers full integration with your store’s catalog, checkout, inventory and reporting and is fully customisable. It also allows you to manage multiple device offerings across all three of these app types and offers, in practice, a low cost of entry to the apps market since you just pay for the bits you want to use and for the devices types you want to target. At least while you get your eye in. Once you have mastered, say iPhone, the logical step is to offer apps for iPad and Android.
But what sets Magento Mobile apart for me is that it as part of the what you get from Magento is the company’s dedicated mobile team fighting your corner. They will assess your initial app and help you perfect it so that when you submit it for approval at the relevant app stores – a process they help you with too – you are not going to have any problems.
The team also helps you with the on-going management and updating of the app as the background operating systems change or you up-date what you are selling.
The importance of this help with submission and on-going management can’t be underestimated. While apps are a great way to engage consumers, one of the downsides is that they need a lot of care and attention and any changes need to be approved by the owners of the apps stores in which they reside. This is complicated and very time consuming.
Magento Mobile plug-ins to mobilise your website
As mentioned above, one of the drawbacks with mobile apps is that they need a lot of care and attention and updating. The other downside with apps is that unless they know its there, consumers aren’t going to generally stumble upon it and buy things. In fact, some three quarters of apps that are downloaded by consumers are used once and then forgotten about.
So, to best capture the passing trade in shoppers who are hitting you via mobile, you need to have a website that can handle being displayed on mobile screens. And this is where the Magento developer community and their myriad plug-ins and apps come into their own. These tools can be used to mobile optimise your site or parts of your site to make sure that consumers get the best experience when they hit you.
So what is availble? Here are a few tools to get you started:
Magento Mobile HTML5 Theme
This plug in integrates with your Magento backend and allows you to quickly and easily create a storefront optimized for mobile devices so customers can shop even when they’re on the go. This mobile interface uses HTML5 technology and supports iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. It includes such wonders as device-specific media capabilities for audio and video; user-friendly search and results display; clean display of product detail pages; that all important pinch, multi-touch and scaling images, as well as easy swipe between product images and zoom capabilities.
This HTML5 based offering is designed to instantly make your website look and behave like a classy native app, but on any iOS or Android device so that you can offer the ultimate in mobile user experience, with the minimum of maintenance and upkeep hassles. It uses a simple point and click interface so is easy to set up and run. And, in theory, it is configure once and serve to all devices.
Shoe Store – with BootStrap
For those of you looking very specifically for a pan-device shoe store option, then Shoe Store brings together all the joys of HTML5 design and mobile optimisation for all devices but specifically tweaked for the shoe selling market.
RED Mobile Theme for Mobile Platforms
For those of you that have a mobile optimised site already, you can jazz it up with RED Mobile theme, which claims to be “the only Magento Mobile theme using HTML5 and jQuery Mobile to bring you rich touch screen features to your mobile store”. The RED Mobile theme is a mobile web app that can bring the look and feel and functionality of a native iPhone or Android app to a website. Nothing for mobile users to install they just go to your store url and are redirected to the mobile theme. Easy installation and upload your logo and slider images through the configuration panel allows you to get a mobile store in minutes.
Magento mobile tools to help you run your business
The final facet of mobile in commerce – and around Magento – are the raft of tools that let you, the busy eSeller on the go, monitor and adapt your site and services from your mobile phone. There are many such tools, but some of the most useful we’ve found to be:
Magento Mobile Dashboard
This handy little plug-in gives you access to all the key information about your online store when you’re on the move. Take the pulse of your sales wherever you are, whenever you want, as much as you want with access to revenue graphs, average order, lifetime sales, last orders, best-sellers and much more.
Mobile Assistant allows online merchants to view all the details of their online store on their iOS devices (iPhone, iPad or iPod), helping store owners to view stores’ order details, product details, customers details anywhere and anytime with help of their iOS devices. This extension eliminates the need to login from PC to get detailed information of the happenings in online stores. Mobile Assistant integrates with your online store and delivers the key details to your iOS device. You can easily navigate through the orders, products, customers and sales report from your handheld device and monitor the performance of your store wherever you go.
Order Pipe Mobile Ecommerce Dashboard
OrderPipe.com is a mobile e-comm dashboard, that shows you metrics and orders on your mobile device. This extension pings the OrderPipe.com platform when you receive a new order, so that the platform can update your orders in near real-time. OrderPipe.com will summarize orders from multiple channels, including Magento, Amazon and Shopify. It presents the order data and summaries on your mobile device or tablet as shown in the screenshots.
Dashly is a real-time Magento Dashboard and Admin app for Android Phones and & Tablets that, like the others, lets you connect to your Magento Store on mobile phones and tablets and get live access to all the vital store information such as Sales, Revenue, Invoice and Shipment information. It offers a deep dive into many of these attributes and works across numerous geographies.