Sitecore Mobile Apps: All about Sitecore Mobile SDK and Xamarin
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Sitecore Mobile Apps: All about Sitecore Mobile SDK and Xamarin

Author: Gaurav Gupta | Categories: Mobile, Personalization, Sitecore CMS

Sitecore is a leading web content management system with thousands of enterprises using it to redefine how they interact with their customers. With strong marketing focus, Sitecore is a preferred choice for brands that are building personalized and contextual experiences for their customers.

Brands are now experiencing that their customer touch points have changed. What used to be a proliferation of digital touch points, mostly led by the web, is now a multi-channel journey for most customer experiences – all led largely by Mobile. Some recent surveys say that companies with the strongest Omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers. In a recent survey by ComScore it was revealed that in the US, more than 70% of customers’ purchase decisions involve mobile as one of the channels.

Clearly, with the changing touch-points, brands are increasingly focusing on including mobile as part of their customers’ experiences. With this change, the Sitecore enterprises are also gearing up for building the mobile apps. In this blog, we will cover how brands with existing Sitecore implementations should go about building their mobile channels.

Sitecore provides accelerators to build mobile applications on top of its current implementation. Sitecore comes with its own mobile SDK that works with Xamarin to build cross-platform mobile applications. Xamarin is a cross-platform mobile application development tool owned by Microsoft. Sitecore SDK and Xamarin can be easily integrated with the Sitecore platform, and also their predefined supported features simplify the development of mobile apps. Using Sitecore SDK and Xamarin you can build the code once using .NET or C#, and cross-compile the code to different platforms. Essentially, you write once and deploy a code on multiple platforms, such as Android, iOS, and Windows.

Xamarin is a Microsoft product and comes with a complete ecosystem comprising of development platform, cloud-based automation testing framework, reusable components, and app distribution and tracking capabilities. You can read more about Xamarin and how it has become a preferred platform for mobile app development on my blog here – Cross platform mobile application development using Xamarin.

Sitecore Mobile App Solution

Sitecore has a robust product roadmap for mobile apps. Delivering enriching customer experiences on Mobile is critical, and Sitecore is fully committed to helping its customers to leverage the opportunity across all channels.

The Sitecore Mobile Apps solution is designed as a new front-end solution that sits on top of its content management system. The solution makes Sitecore a central hub to manage all your digital properties, including your web and mobile apps. You can further use it to share content, customer data, and analytics seamlessly.

The Sitecore-integrated content management function allows you separate the content from its presentation so your content can be automatically delivered at scale across channels.

It allows analytics to capture individual visitor data across all channels and bring in a single customer profile. This can further be used to build truly personalized and contextual experiences on different channels.

The solution provides you the ability to map profiles and real-time behavior with on-the-spot decision-making facility so you can customize the experience across various touch points.

Sitecore mobile solutions comprise of two main components – Sitecore Mobile SDK and Xamarin mobile application development platform.

Sitecore Mobile SDK for Xamarin is a framework that is designed to help developers produce native mobile applications that use and serve content, managed by Sitecore. The framework enables developers to develop applications utilizing their existing .NET development skill sets. The SDK includes the following features:

  • Fetches CMS Content

  • Sources HTML renderings from the Sitecore CMS

  • Creates, deletes, updates items

  • Downloads and uploads media resources

  • Protects security sensitive data
Sitecore mobile apps

The solution requires you to manage a single code base, rather than three different ones, while you are building Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone apps. Instead of setting up a team of Android, Objective-C, and Swift developers, you can simply leverage your present .Net team to build the mobile applications.

This approach is also very beneficial when it comes to maintaining and updating the codes.

How does the Sitecore Mobile App solution work?

Let’s see how this solution will work for your customer

Your customers access content across multiple channels, including mobile apps. All customer activities are tracked and insights captured across all channels in a single database, and a single customer profile gets created, which is relevant for all channels.

So, personalized content is served on mobile apps, based on a customer’s journey across different channels and vice versa. Also, information like location or proximity (captured via the mobile app) can be used further to add context to the experience.

Furthermore, we can use push notifications to the app as a way to engage your customers, based on their location or activities on other channels. For example, the lady in the image below has interests in Footwear, and basis her location and proximity to a physical retail store, marketers can send her contextual and personalized coupons or rewards via push notifications. So, now the experience that was earlier limited to the web, is extended to your customer while she is on the go, the overall experience is much more enriching and personalized.

mobile apps

Advantages of Sitecore Mobile App solution:

There is a host of benefits that include the solution’s capacity to:

  • Seamlessly integrate the mobile apps with both the Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) and the Sitecore Web Experience Manager (WXM).

  • Act as a single source of content for your website, mobile web, and mobile apps.

  • Manage your mobile application’s content, directly from within Sitecore.

  • Integrate marketing data and analytics, including Geo IP, with the Sitecore Experience Database. This provides a unified view of the customer across multiple channels. Also, it allows sharing personalized, contextual content with customers in real time.

  • Develop cross-platform applications with a single code base for multiple platforms that facilitate quick time to market.

  • Provide you the base to write once and deploy ‘n’ number of times.

  • Offer automated testing facilities on the Xamarin test cloud.

  • Provide seamless app distribution, crash reporting, and feedback gathering ability through the Hockey app, which comes packaged with Xamarin.

Over and above, Xamarin is a reliable platform, backed by Microsoft, with a huge community and support resources available round the clock.