In some industries, key operators have to accomplish tasks on the move. Take property business: agents travel between showings while discussing deals with partners and clients on WhatsApp or other messaging apps. As such companies grow, the need for more advanced real estate software, such as mobile CRM, becomes obvious.
CTOs, executives, and entrepreneurs often ask Rubyroid Labs questions related to creating a CRM mobile app with React Native. We are not surprised that they consider this framework, as a whole bunch of popular apps, such as Facebook, Instagram, Skype, Uber, and Tesla electric car apps, run on it.
Is React Native a suitable technology for my business model? How expensive is this? What alternatives are available? All of these are legitimate concerns, and the frequency at which we have to respond to them inspired us to write this article.
If you have the same questions, read on to learn from our expertise and years of experience.
Do You Really Need a Mobile CRM App?
We suggest that you begin at step zero: ask yourself whether you really need a mobile CRM app.
Odds are that you have one or two concrete business problems in mind as opposed to the range of aspects covered by more complex software like CRM. The price tag for developing a custom CRM is quite high and you should think twice before you opt for this solution.
Alternatively, consider building a mobile app with functionality centered around the exact problems that you seek to solve.
Here is a story from our experience: RocketWash, a service that connects car washes with car owners, hired us to create an advanced desktop CRM. The client was happy about the product we built and consulted us on how to best implement mobile experiences within the system.
By talking with the company’s executive team, we narrowed down the key task for the prospective mobile app: connecting a particular consumer base with the system. Eventually, we developed an app with the functionality tailored to the needs of car owners, and integrated it with the RocketWash CRM.
This approach allowed the client to solve the business problem in the most cost-efficient manner possible.
Building a Mobile CRM with React Native
It is not a coincidence that you are considering React Native as a framework for your CRM mobile app. It is a good choice of technology, and here is why.
Facebook rolled out the first version of React Native in 2015. Since then, it has been battle-tested and perfected by top-tier businesses.
What in particular makes this framework so awesome is its flexibility.
If you create a mobile CRM with React Native, you basically build two mobile apps for two platforms at once. The framework automatically generates native code for iOS and Android, creating components specific to the OS.
Furthermore, you can add platform-specific code into your codebase to enable support for features like Health API on iOS. To do that, you only need to apply the right plugins, of which the development community has created a wide range since the release of the framework.
And if you can’t find the relevant plugin, you can contract a software engineer who will build it for you.
The main flaw of React Native so far has been its inefficiency in handling heavy, resource-consuming games and complex animations. But this is something that you are unlikely to expect from your CRM mobile app.
Rubyroid Labs can help you make better sense of whether building a CRM with React Native is a financially viable option, and we’ll make it work for you — just ask us.
Alternative Tech to Build a CRM App With
You must have a good reason if you choose to develop a CRM mobile app with a native language, such as C++, Java, Kotlin or Swift.
The benefits of a natively built product are obvious. They include unlimited customizability, integrations with virtually any other software, connection with sensors and hardware, and more.
Nevertheless, if these benefits do not add value that translates into a noticeable revenue boost, developing a mobile CRM app with a native language will be a huge waste of resources.
If you target two platforms, iOS and Android, you will have to develop two separate CRM applications. This requires two teams of programmers who will write two different codebases, making the development one-and-a-half times or even twice as expensive and much slower than building with React Native.
If you have definite business logic in mind, like price calculation based on particular conditions, you will have to:
- duplicate it and introduce later changes in two apps simultaneously, which is a lot of work;
- use a very low-level language like C++, juggling various native libraries, which tangibly slows down the development.
In other words, the estimation of the potential ROI is a must-take step before you go native with your mobile CRM. Spoiler: it is unlikely that your business goals require this much effort.
Progressive Web Applications
Progressive web apps (PWAs) feel and look much like mobile apps, but they are built on an essentially different technology.
A CRM PWA is an application that opens in a browser. Here is what makes a PWA similar to native mobile apps:
- You can access it by tapping an icon that is visually similar to regular apps on your smartphone or tablet.
- It can send you push notifications if you run on Android.
- It has a mobile-centered interface.
- You can use it offline as it synchronizes via the cloud and caches data on the device.
Unlike mobile apps, a PWA is not dependent on any platform. When you have two native apps for iOS and Android, you need to release updated versions for each of them, waiting until (if ever) they get approved and reviewed. With PWAs, you just introduce changes in the codebase once, and they immediately apply on every platform.
Unlike mobile apps, a PWA is not dependent on any platform.
However, PWAs have limitations that you should be aware of, such as:
- limited integrations with third-party services like calendars and social apps
- most PWAs cannot access your contacts
- iOS limits many features for PWAs including access to Bluetooth, advanced camera functionality, and push notifications.
In general, Apple’s stance on PWAs is different to Google’s. Without going into detail, these differences impact the cross-platform accessibility of such apps, and this can escalate in the future as the PWA concept is still relatively young.
Developing a PWA will be the right choice for companies that want to have a custom in-house tool for up to five actors built in a cost-efficient manner.
Responsive Web Design
In 2020, if you’re utilizing a CRM that is not designed with the mobile experience in mind, you must have a clear rationale behind that.
For example, desktop-centric applications are typical for businesses that need to process a lot of data on one screen, such as complex trading.
This also might be fine if your users are most comfortable interacting with the product on a tablet rather than a smartphone.
However, if you decide that your app needs to be mobile-friendly, you might consider implementing responsive web design (RWD). This is the cheapest way, and the output remains demanding.
Even though RWD can make your web app look and feel similar to a mobile app, it will still be a website opened in a browser window. Push notifications, offline functionality, accessibility through an icon on the phone screen, and other app-specific features are not available.
On the bright side, you do not experience the complications related to releasing new app versions on the store.
Just like with PWAs, RWD is an option to consider when upgrading a corporate CRM used by five people or fewer.
Wrapping Things Up
Now that you know your options to enable mobile-friendly CRM experience, you are equipped to make an informed decision.
Whatever your choice might be, it is safe to say that React Native beats the alternatives on cost-efficiency by a long shot. This framework allows you to implement the most popular features, add singular ones, and meet the performance needs of CRM as a software type.
React Native basically has everything you might ever want from a framework to build a CRM on.
If you are still unsure about how to proceed with developing a mobile app, whether it is a CRM or centered around a particular business aspect, consult Rubyroid Labs.
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