Unfortunately, small business owners usually ignore mobile world in their activities. They either pinch pennies on such developments or are scared off by the very idea of creating a mobile application that may seem like a huge undertaking for which they are not enough technically qualified or experienced. However, as mobile devices have taken the world, it’s a huge omission not to keep pace with such new tech-savvy trends.
Some may assert that the presence of website is enough for them, but we can assure you that nowadays having a good website is good, but having a good mobile app is better, because as statistics and polls show, mobile usage is quickly overtaking desktop/laptop usage in the marketplace. Smartphones, iphones, androids, tablets become most common way to access the Internet. Apps offer robust functions that lead to many more chances for usage in comparison to mobile websites. Thus, the average business’s app is used twice as often as its mobile website. That’s why it’s high time for every type of business, including small one, to go mobile and create a useful mobile app presence.
1. The first question that arises is how a small business can benefit from making an app. To get the answer, here are a few reasons why every small business should seriously consider the idea of creating an app.
1) It’s a perfect way to engage and connect with customers
When you understand your customers and when there are few barriers between you and your customers – you have the key to your business’s success. Apps give you new insights into your customers and help gather such valuable information as, for example, the most popular tabs that they use, what time customers use your app, where users come from, what they are mostly interested in and much more. All this information can be quite useful for planning future ad campaigns, for changing your products according to the revealed needs of your customers, or when simply trying to define your target demographics more clearly. Knowing all that, you’ll be able to deliver better service or better products to customers. And in its turn better service or products will bring you referrals from happy customers, which again, will lead to gaining new customers. Customer referrals made in social networks let you promote your products and services, help you take direct orders for products, which entails a new great benefit of making an app, such as PCA Skin mobile application.
2) Increase of sales and revenue
And this is probably the most pleasant benefit of all. Apps present a wealth of opportunities to generate revenue: mobile ordering, push notifications promoting new sales or offers, invitations to events, subscription to your materials and even a simple address lookup all can lead to more sales for your company. Indeed, the more opportunities to connect with your customer you have, the more opportunities to generate revenue you have, and at present nothing connects better than mobile. Successfully realized augmented reality projects for P&G company prove this statement: Ariel Deep Down Cleaning and Pantene Pro-V Augmented Reality Games were used for advertising marketing campaign.
3) It increases productivity of your personnel
App benefits are not only about your customers or sales. Apps have a huge influence on the ability of your business to operate effectively. Your apps can allow your employees to manage workflow, communicate with customers, check inventory, navigate, which will make your company run more efficiently and smoothly. Mobile apps can offer mobile ordering and reservations, a quick way to enter data, take purchases, and perform other simple tasks. Thus, having an app at hand, your customers will no longer need to call you or your employees to find out information about your working hours or location or to inquire about the available inventory. This cut down customer calls significantly and frees up your staff who can devote their time to new and more sophisticated tasks or projects.
4) It builds an edge over the competition
From a competitive standpoint, companies that are first to develop an app gain a huge advantage over latecomers. Namely small businesses, compared to large ones, enjoy many more benefits from having an app in today’s highly competitive market. A good app can help to push ahead of the similar small competitors and, in the long run, allow you to expand, grow, earn a share of new business that will be larger than your today’s competitors market share. If there are, let’s say, ten pizza restaurants in your city and only one of them has a mobile app allowing to order takeout food delivery, which restaurant will see mobile orders (and definitely the total amount of orders) increase, do you think? The answer is obvious, we guess. Clear example of such application is Wine Guide PhD mobile app.
That being the case, mobile apps have proved to be the very future of computing and greatest investment into the future of your business. Thus, developing a mobile app and promoting it among your users is extremely beneficial to push forward your business.
2. The second question to ask is how to make a decent app for your business.
Here are some tips that will help you develop a mobile app for your small business, so that you could enjoy all the above mentioned benefits.
1) One of the main decisions small businesses have to make before building an app relates to platform.
The mobile world is very fragmented, which means that an app made for Android devices won’t work for Apple and vice versa. The number of your app users will be restricted to the mobile operating system you choose. If for example your business deals with audiences that mostly use iPhones, you should run on iOS. However, if you have a substantial budget and want to reach more potential customers, go for mobile apps that run on multi-platforms, and not just for the iPhone but also for Android devices and others. In addition, if you want an app for tablets, keep in mind that iPad apps and other tablet applications generally contain more features for content consumption and productivity, and fewer for games/leisure.
2) Another important decision small businesses have to make is price.
If you decide to make a paid app, you have to carefully consider your pricing strategy. Take into account the value proposition, compare to other similar apps and choose the price that will not scare your users off. It’s nice if you can afford a free app as it will encompass bigger audience. Free apps are generally ad supported.
3) It’s an increasingly competitive market, so make sure you bring real value to customers with your mobile app.
Don’t make the application for the sake of appearance, don’t make it useless. Simple – yes, but not useless. How is it possible? There are many ways to use apps to make it valuable, including the one listed above, plus reservation or appointment scheduling, special coupons, help in finding products in stores, feedback, exclusive app – only recipes and lifestyle tips and many more.
As an example, make sure to check out PSA Skin Case Study developed by Elinext Group. This is an app for the iPad that will provide the user with up-to-date information about goods and trainings. With this app clients have a possibility to sign invoices for purchased goods.
You can also have a look at Apple’s iOS Newsstand that provides the ability to purchase and download magazine issues, and allows the user to sign up for subscription.
4) The key to deliver real value to your app is to start simple.
Eventually, it will turn out to be a mistake if you start out with a huge investment in a fully formed, professionally produced app. The first step is to produce the simplest possible app. Applications need to be easy to use, fun, and intuitive because the audience is so unforgiving, it will not spend time trying to understand how your app works. People will download it and shortly thereafter delete it. Moreover, they have limited space on their mobile devices, so the app should be appropriate. Keep things basic and stick to simple features.
After you launch a simple app, monitor how the audience reacts, and only after that develop further. Experiment before committing.
Taking into account the above, it is safe to say that the best way to take advantage of the mobile world is to cover all of your bases, including mobile apps. With them, your business is ready to meet all mobile audiences, wherever they might be and whatever they might want to do.
We hope you’re no longer confused whether it’s worthwhile to make an app for your small business and have chosen to enjoy all the benefits described but not ignore them. With increased sales, apps pay for themselves in no time. Be creative, and use your app to enhance your business, and it will prove to be efficient and worthwhile right from the start.
Elinext mobile apps projects:
Industries and Technology Areas
Technology Areas: mobile application development, software development, iOS, Android