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Zero friction. The importance of the application store supply chain.

When discussing the anatomy of an application store we often gravitate to the consumer-facing parts. Does the store have an intuitive and compelling user experience, or does the store have cool features like app ratings or recommendations? These are all critical ingredients in the recipe for application store success. But behind every application store is an equally important ingredient, the supply chain.

Rarely discussed and often overlooked, the technology and processes that help developers bring their apps to market is the cornerstone of running an app retailing business. Optimize your supply chain and you have happy developers and lots of product on your shelves managed at a lower cost. Ignore the supply chain and you will struggle bringing apps to market in a timely manner, frustrating your application developer partners and limiting the product available for your consumers. In an increasingly competitive application store environment, optimizing the supply chain is crucial.

There are two areas that application store retailers should focus on to optimize their supply chain. First, the supply chain should be frictionless. A friction-free supply chain is highly automated and workflow driven. From application on-boarding, to pricing, to testing, to editorial review, to stocking on the virtual shelves an application flows through a lifecycle. That lifecycle has it passing through a number of individuals’ "hands" — from the developer, to the tester, to the retailer, among others.

Without automation and workflow, applications can get jammed in the gears of manual process or fall through cracks entirely. Automation and workflow help reduce time-to-market, lower operational costs, and ensure that applications reach consumers as fast as possible.

Second, the supply chain should be transparent. Transparency ensures that all parties involved in bringing an application to market are aware of where it is in its lifecycle. Has an application been on-boarded for a particular device? Has it gone through editorial review? Is it on the shelves and, if so, for how long, and how well is it selling? Where is it located in the store and how much consumer visibility does it have? These are all questions that impact the developer and the app retailers business, and information should be transparently available to all parties involved to help them make better and more timely decisions.

Whether you manage an application store or distribute applications through one, the supply chain is as important as any ingredient to your success. Application stores that focus on a friction-free and transparent supply chain will bring product to market faster, reduce operational costs, improve decision making and guarantee that consumers more efficiently get the apps they demand.

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