Salesforce has announced AppExchange Store Builder to enable its customers to create their own application marketplaces and bypass third-party and consumer app stores.
Built on the Salesforce1 platform, the Store Builder is essentially a customer version of the company's own AppExchange store where it hosts native and third-party Salesforce1 applications.
In effect, companies can create a single destination for the distribution of their mobile, web and desktop-based business applications.
Salesforce claims that 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies have their own business apps that are reliant on consumer app stores for their distribution. As such these companies lose out on the opportunity to use marketplaces that are most suitable to their app offerings.
"These stores do not always meet the needs of businesses, who want customised branding, centralised support across multiple device platforms, and the ability to manage and deliver apps directly to users," said Salesforce.
The Store Builder is mostly targeted at Salesforce1 users that wish to create business apps for internal use, though Salesforce has added the ability for its customers to distribute apps to business partners and their own customers, as well as employees.
These custom marketplaces act exactly like Salesforce's own AppExchange, allowing app end-users to access the storefront via the web or a mobile device and simply select, download and install the application they want.
Jim Sinai, senior director of AppExchange and Platform at Salesforce, explained to V3 that the release of Store Builder is due to the increasing number of businesses creating their own apps.
"Regardless of what industry you are in, you have to think about building applications big and small for your employees, your partners and your customers. But if you're not getting them out to your users and only getting 10 percent uptake, what's the point?" he said.
Sinai went on to explain how the positive reaction to Salesforce's AppExchange caused the company to repackage it for customers in the form of Store Builder.
"We basically said: ‘Why don't we white label our AppExchange and let them use our cloud platform to build and customise app stores that they want to have," he explained.
The Store Builder supports multiple device platforms, including Windows, iOS and Android, and boasts several features that are aimed at making the construction of a custom app marketplace a simple process.
Salesforce said users can rapidly create fully customised storefronts relevant to their brand, and by using built-in dashboards they can monitor and track the activity and downloads pertaining to their apps.
The Store Builder also makes use of existing e-commerce services in AppExchange, such as Chargent, Linvio and Zuora, which can be integrated into the Store Builder so that users can add payment processing to their marketplaces.
Interestingly, Salesforce is allowing its customers to put any app they want into their customer marketplaces rather than only allowing apps that have been developed with Salesforce's own tools.
Enterprise-grade apps are increasingly becoming the focus of major technology companies, with one example being a recent partnership between Apple and IBM to bring business-focused mobile applications to iPads and iPhones as part of IBM MobileFirst portfolio.
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