WordPress is an awesome CMS that gives you unlimited possibilities to develop your online business. A website, shop, blog, classifieds service or any other type of site is within your reach, if only you know how to skilfully use the ecosystem (see WordPress course). You don't have to learn how to code, you just grab the mouse and go.
The snag is that in the case of online shops (see How to set up an online shop) the website alone may not be enough. Yes, you can use channels such as Allegro, Amazon, eBay... but it won't always work out financially if you have to pay fees at some point, including sales commissions.
Having your own shop means minimising costs. Someone buys, and you don't have to pay commissions on it except for online transaction fees, which are not large, and on top of that some gateways like tPay allow you to pass the costs on to the person choosing this form of payment.
However, you need to stop for a moment. Think about how to reach mobile device users. A huge number of purchases on Allegro and other previously mentioned platforms are made via mobile applications.
When launching a WooCommerce shop, is it possible to provide your customers with a mobile shop application? An application which they can install and use to conveniently access your offer? Yes, it is possible and it is not difficult!
Progressive Web App is a technology which is an inexpensive substitute for mobile applications. In short, when someone arrives at a website or shop on a mobile device, they are informed that the website they are visiting can function as a web application. With one click he can install it.
Once the user decides to install it, the application will appear on the phone just like any other. The advantage of a PWA is that such a page running as a PWA app can run faster because of the buffer that is stored on the device of those using it. However, it is still a page that loads in the application window.
Outsourcing application development to a specialised agency
If you have a large enough budget, you outsource mobile app development to an agency that specialises in this area.
However, it is not cheap. Tiny applications without eCommerce functions cost from several thousand zloty plus the costs of further development and care. There is practically no upper limit of prices. Depending on how complex the application is to be budgets can be counted even in millions of zloty. That is why I wrote that only companies with a sufficiently large wallet (tens of thousands, hundreds, etc.) decide to make this move... And what if you do not have such money? Is PWA the only option left?
Something in the middle
For years, there have been more and more tools on the market that allow anyone to create a mobile application at a low cost, without even touching a piece of code. Then the application created in this way can be published in the AppStore or Google Play. Everyone interested in your shop can find it there, install it and make purchases conveniently. Sounds intriguing?
Quickly turn your WooCommerce shop into a mobile app
It is enough that you have a shop based on WordPress and WooCommerce to independently, without hiring an agency to launch a mobile application that will communicate with your shop in real time using the API.
An example of a tool that can help you with this is AppMySite. A very promising project, although quite young at the moment I am writing this text. The initiative behind it was born in 2018, while the first version was made available in 2020.
What is optimistic here is that AppMySite is created and developed by an experienced agency that has been working with WordPress and WooCommerce for years. As they write, they were inundated with questions from their clients about the possibility of converting their Woo shops to mobile apps and finally decided to take on the challenge.
Did I mention that you don't have to be a mobile app developer to create one for your WooCommerce shop and upload it to Android and iOS platforms? This is exactly the idea behind AppMySite. To give anyone the opportunity to crank out an app that will use the data of an existing WooCommerce based shop.
Application development process for an online shop
The AppMySite interface has one big advantage. It is extremely clear and intuitive. I think this comfort will be appreciated especially by beginners.
We are launching a mobile application
We first add the application by entering basic information about it:
In this step you enter the web address of your shop, choose a platform (for now only WordPress, but others like Magento are planned in the future). The third field is to specify the specifics of your website, which will affect the next steps and settings of the application. Is it a shop alone, or a shop with a blog, or maybe a blog with a shop 🙂 Maybe you want to create an app for just a blog without eCommerce functionality. You choose, and finally you enter the name of the app and click on the build button.
The next step is to create an icon for the application, which will be its distinctive sign visible on smartphones and in app shops. You can generate an icon based on colour and text, or you can upload your own pre-made icon graphics.
Start-up screen of the application
Easily design the look of your app's start screen. Choose a colour or graphic for the background, enter the name of your shop, upload your logo... A few clicks and you're ready to go.
On the right hand side you have a preview of what you're doing all the time, so you can quickly see how what you're designing will look in the end on iOS and Android smartphones.
You configure the appearance of the login, registration and password reset pages in the same way. Your customers will be able to log in using their Google, Facebook or Apple accounts, as well as using their email address and password as standard.
You see a preview on the right all the time.
You can decide on the main colour scheme for your app and the button colours. Another instant action and you can move on.
Home screen settings
When the application starts, the main page of the shop appears on your customer's phone. At this point of configuration related to the appearance, you decide what you want to show on your mobile shop and what you do not. The configuration is trivial. Some elements have additional settings such as the header, where you can insert graphics or change the colour, similarly to the previous steps.
There are more options than you can see in the above screenshot. You can hide them and also change their order. This is a simple way to customize your app's homepage.
The appearance configuration stage is behind you. If you know what you want, the above steps will be done in 15 minutes, maybe half an hour. Great, right?
Linking the application to the WooCommerce shop
This step may seem more difficult, but in practice it comes down to generating the API keys on the Woo settings side and pasting them in here:
The application is practically ready to use. At any time you can change the settings or go to other sections related to its functioning.
Before you download and publish your new app, it's worth looking at how it works. You can test it by simulating the view for iOS and Android devices.
Once the design and settings are complete, all that remains is to download the application files and upload them to the AppStore and/or GooglePlay, from where your customers can install it.
There are plans to integrate with these platforms so that you don't have to download files, but publish them conveniently from within AppMySite.
You can send notifications to users of your app in any quantity. These can be information about promotional actions in the shop, but not only. Soon there will be notifications about changes in the status of orders, which will be very practical and welcomed by most of your customers using the app on their phones.
Almost, because it does not yet have everything I expect. I am skipping the functionality itself, which is still far from AppMaker, but this will change. Now, I am mainly concerned with the Polish language for generated applications. Currently, the tool already supports several languages, which are automatically activated depending on the language of our shop or website, but our language is not there. It is supposed to be.
They plan to add all languages supported by WordPress! It's just a matter of time. I talked to them about it and Polish language can be expected at the end of 2021, but they wrote that if I finance the cost of translation then Polish language will appear within 2-3 weeks 🙂 The cost is $99 so not much. But for now I am testing and then who knows, maybe I will finance the translation so that you do not have to wait until the end of the year. Or together with my students on MeetWP, interested in live with this tool we will do a drop. Write to HelloWP 🙂 .
No matter how you look at it, launching an app shop, blog or website using AppMySite is child's play and anyone can do it, even someone who launched their project a week ago.
How much does the AppMySite cost?
Considering the cost of creating and caring for a dedicated app, the expenses associated with AppMySite are negligible.
Not counting the free plan, which is basically only suitable for testing and that is its purpose, the monthly costs for one app (for one website/shop) are at the level of a few or several dollars with annual settlement. That's not much money for a mobile shop app that you can create yourself in one evening.
And for those of you who, like me, like tools that you don't have to pay a subscription for, I have good news. AppMySite has hit AppSumo and is available from a $39 one-time payment. But be warned, for that $39 you can create three apps for three WordPress/WooCommerce sites or shops!
If you want to get rid of the AppMySite markup on published apps and be able to create them for up to 10 sites, then you can have that for a $99 one-time investment. One of the more interesting lifetime offers on AppSumo that I've come across in the last 12 months.
If you run a shop and you don't miss this offer consider launching another sales channel which will be your own mobile application communicating with WooCommerce shop.
Is it worth it?
Well. I thought about it for maybe 5 minutes. And although in my case for MeetWP I will not be able to use this solution, but it is possible that I will use AppMySite for other projects I have on the horizon. Also, what is even more important for me, I will be able to present applications to my clients. For many of them it will be a real treat, especially if they do not manage to use the lifetime offer, because it will not last forever.
If the authors will add support for more languages, including Polish, and will consistently implement the plans that can be found on the project roadmap, I believe that the investment in AppMySite will be one of the best, which will immediately pay off and start making money.
About 2 years ago I tested a similar tool. I don't remember its name now (there are some), but it was a mobile application creator, based mainly on RSS feeds from which it downloaded content. Not only was it clumsy, but also much more expensive than AppMySite, which integrates with WooCommerce shop by API.
If the idea of an app for your shop has been on your mind, but you abandoned it when you heard what the prices were, then today you can reactivate your plan 🙂 .
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