With the rise of the App Store phenomenon, it’s natural that e-commerce sites will want to roll out their own native mobile apps, but the cost of doing so – outsourcing or otherwise – may be prohibitive for boutique-sized and independent online traders. Enter MobiCart, a new UK startup that is offering a platform to build native storefronts for Apple’s iOS and Android at a cost of free. Yep, that’s right, zilch.
It also re-defines the notion of so-called ‘cookie cutter’ apps, as MobiCart offers a fully customized storefront that can operate standalone or tie into a website’s existing e-commerce content management system via the startup’s open API. In other words, it’s a lot less trivial than pulling in an RSS feed.
What’s more, MobiCart is aiming to be a fully-fledged platform/ecosystem with its own add-on marketplace. Developers can extend MobiCart’s functionality to fill in any missing gaps and these add-ons can also be offered for free or, alternatively, paid-for. It’s ambitious stuff.
But where’s the business model, I hear you cry. MobiCart’s attempting to borrow from the open source model of charging for additional services around the core (and free) product, in this case handling the App Store submission process and additional partnerships/support. Though not stated, I suspect they’ll also take a cut of any add-ons sold through MobiCart’s marketplace (they’d be silly not to).
In terms of competition, MobiCart is obviously up against bespoke mobile app development houses for hire as well as similar more automated app e-commerce storefront creators, such as e-commerce platform Magento, but these usually charge for their wares. In that sense, MobiCart has adopted a potentially very disruptive but risky and perhaps limited revenue model. On that note, the company hasn’t received investment, reports Venturebeat, instead relying on funding from a $80,000 private loan.