Magento Introduces A New Magento Mobile Admin

Mobile is the next frontier for commerce.  We expect our new mCommerce product to bring the same level of scale and innovation to mobile as our eCommerce platform did for the web.” – Roy Rubin, CEO of Magento

Hello from Amsterdam!  As I write this post, I’ve just returned from the Meet Magento event here in the Netherlands, and getting ready for our next two community events in Paris and Leipzig.  There have been quite a few questions about the new mobile product that we’ll be announcing this Friday, and perhaps the best way to explain it would be to give you a quick tour of what we’ve been working on these last few months.  But first, some background…

The Rise of Native-Mobile Applications

To set the stage for what you’re about to see, it is important to share our observations on the two ways that users interact with storefronts on mobile devices:  mobile web (browser) apps and native mobile apps.  The first is nothing new to Magento.  When we launched our first iPhone-optimized theme back in 2008, we learned that while optimizing your online store for mobile browsers is important, consumers are engaging even more deeply with native mobile applications.  Retailers are responding to this fast-growing trend by building custom, native applications for the iPhone, the iPad, Android, etc.  Even more interesting are native apps that offer an integrated commerce experience with the web channel, the most notable being eBay, which drove $500M in mobile-channel sales last year and is projecting $1.5B this year.

But as we looked into this trend, and saw the rising demand for native applications, we found that they are becoming very costly to build, and increasingly complicated to manage and scale.  This difficultly only grows when we take into account the next logical step, which is to build fully-integrated experiences that allow consumers, for example, to begin a purchase on the web and later complete it on a mobile device.  There had to be a better way.

Introducing the Magento mobile admin

To help our merchants respond to these opportunities & challenges, we built a product that you’ll soon be able to use for Enterprise Edition 1.6+, Professional Edition 1.8+, and Community Edition 1.3+. It includes the ability to bring your store catalog into fully-featured commerce apps, beginning with the iPhone.  The theme of the app, including background images and button colors, can be customized to match your brand.  The apps will also be fully integrated with your existing eCommerce and merchandizing tools, allowing you to deploy cross-channel shopping experiences across multiple devices quickly and easily.

Here is an early wireframe of our product from a few months ago…

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…and here is what the finished version looks like.  Notice the ability to add/edit templates, features, and themes.

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Even after customers download your app, you’ll be able to continually update the visual appearance of buttons, text, etc.

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Transforming Apps into Mobile-Commerce Platforms

In addition to managing the visual appearance, you’ll also be able to decide which features to make available to your users.  And coming soon, merchants will be able to extend their mobile-commerce feature sets in the way they do with their eCommerce offerings.  Through Magento Connect, store owners will be able to easily install and deploy new features for mobile device such as private sales, digital coupons, line-skipping programs for mobile + in-store purchases, augmented reality.  The possibilities will only continue to evolve as the amount of eligible devices increases.  This approach essentially turns each mobile app that is managed through this tool into its own open platform, which we hope will lead to a tremendous amount of new innovation at the intersection of commerce and mobile.

Of course, deploying new functionality to native apps such as the iPhone requires a resubmission of the code to the app store and ongoing management to ensure the application is stable and in compliance.  To make this process easier, Magento will manage this process for merchants at a low fee.  All you need to do is configure your mobile app and we take care of the rest, including security patches, stability upgrades, bug fixes, etc.  How great is that!

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