In today’s world, billions of smartphones are being used globally, ranging from children to the elderly. A computer in your pocket, a dream conceived by Apple and is today the primary interface for most of the human population to operate in society. Anywhere from banking, grocery shopping, navigation, you name it – there is an App out there that can serve your need. With so many options available – how does your business fit in this crowded marketplace, how do you stand out, and how do you grow?
Business Growth is a step-by-step process, continuously improving every aspect of your business with your partners, employees, and customers. Listening, process enhancements, investments, and driving efficiencies are part of the equation in reaching out and standing out. Given that you drive to differentiate from your competition, how does an App make that stick? How will it help drive your business in both sales and execution? This Blog is going to explore the various aspects of App Development and how it delivers to you, your customers, and your employees.
There are 8 identified areas of impact for an App
1. Generating new sales (and be found in the App Store)
2. Customer Retention and Experience
3. Operational Transparency
4. Reduced operational costs
5. Earn through App stores
6. Improve shopping frequency by customers
7. Easy to do business with you
8. Business Model App – creating your own marketplace
Generating New Sales
When having an App for your customers, B2C or B2B (or Both), it is important to note that you are one click away from being reached (unlike eCommerce website search, find, login then interact). An App’s reach with authentication being done on the user’s phone automatically creates a secure and trusted interaction, right from the get-go. This drives to the well-accepted mantra of “frictionless sales” – the easier you are to reach, the more business you will get – a core belief from the likes of HubSpot for example (you can learn more from their course here https://academy.hubspot.com/courses/frictionless-sales ).
The effect of this easy reach has driven both the spread of the App in social media (it's easy, download the App, and get what you need) and the repeat buying of existing customers. With brand awareness, ease of use combined with your marketing strategy, you have enhanced one of your 4P’s – Place. You now exist in a new place, with an enticement of the other 3P’s. However, this creates your own small marketplace where you can promote, and have that mindshare directly with the customer which we will explore further below.
Customer Retention and Experience
Whereas we have eluded to the experience above, we can explore more specifically the areas that impact your business and the customer’s experience below. The key areas of impact are:
Private and secure portal to your account and ability to view, manage, and review all aspects of your purchases, wishlist, promotions, and loyalty points.
Ability to notify customers when being offline on promotions that are tied to repeat orders, wishlists, or have shown interest. This can be done via text messaging, Facebook messenger or have a Shopify App that can deliver the notification.
Abandoned cart reminders or countdown timers to re-incentivize to transact.
Ability to support and track conversations with your support staff on questions, returns, and inquiries via live chat, a ticketing system to enhance your customer support.
Personalize navigation and promote based on user profiling with eCommerce features that exist on your website.
Survey customers based on their user behaviors and interests all the while enhancing your customer service.
The above are some of the standard benefits and improved experiences of an App sitting on the customer's phones – but how about your business? How do they benefit from the improved experience and ease of use to interact with you?
Easy and secure reach means returning customers and repeat orders.
Ability to promote to your customer base outside of Email and mass marketing methods – a targeted approach that is more personal.
Automating a daily reminder for your abandoned cart customers with incentives to get them over the transactional line.
Manage and respond to your customers' inquiries with a real-time interaction since they get notifications when you are ready to respond and inform them of the information they are seeking.
Migrate your clients from your eCommerce website to use the App so as to shit their user experience with an enhanced experience. Better for your brand, your retention, and sales.
Enhance your customer feedback loop, product offerings, usage models via surveys.
It works both ways, the business sees benefits, your customers see opportunities and are driven to keep you in mind more frequently, and even if interrupted, can return and complete their business with you.
Data on Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Responsive websites
70% of all Americans own Smartphones, 50% own Tablets.
Mobile devices are responsible for 71% of internet traffic in the USA, 62% in Canada, 61% in the UK, 67% in Spain, 64% in Italy, 72% in Brazil, 75% in Mexico, 71% in China, 91% in Indonesia.
90% of the time spent on the Smartphone is spent in an App – 10% browsing.
201.8 Minutes per month Shopping on their mobile App, compared to 10.9min/mo on Websites.
Conversions are the smallest on Mobile Browsers, with 2x for Desktop browsing, and 1.5x that for an App (App conversion is 3x greater than Mobile browsing).
The trends, of course, are increasing over desktop and mobile browsing, where mobile browsing is more used for secondary data such as reviews, forums, and general search criteria. With a lot of “fake eCommerce” sites, Apps and Marketplaces are becoming a more “trusted” space for avoiding potential issues of that type since eCommerce sites are now becoming very easy to set up, opening the doors to fraudsters.
This area of the business has become even more critical with the COVID-19 Pandemic since the disruption of the operations with lockdowns, furloughs, and work-at-home programs. With App Development, the outcome drives you to firm up your digital processes so they can be focused and distributed simultaneously.
Information flow between clients and the various departments of your business is one dimension, all the while other dimensions require the same level of focus such as transactions, order dispatches, returns, accounting, and replenishment. All the while cashflow requires monitoring, and inventory levels need to be synched up with marketplaces.
Mobile App Development will map your processes and highlight the friction points of the user experience for them to be addressed. The resulting effort gives you and your business operational transparency, and the team to be singing from the same sheet of commerce.
Reduced operational costs
With the Mobile App Development process, and the benefits of a better user experience, the time consumed at the various levels of the operation can then be monitored by metrics, and drive continuous improvement strategies in both managing the experience, reducing the time spent, and an overall reduction of returns/support.
The SMS Group cites a good example of the key areas of operational cost reductions and efficiencies that are driven through Mobile App Development. It describes the following areas:
Inventory Management, Control, and tracking – including replenishment alerts, and keeping the marketplace's current (reduce/eliminate overselling).
Employee visibility – the ability to see their effectiveness with metrics in place, as well as their impact/results for the business and the customers’ experience.
Shipment and vehicle/delivery tracking.
Managing and measuring asset performance – where mobility tracks response times, allowing for mobile scanning and processing, reducing downtimes and maintenance costs.
Mobile CRM – giving you real-time data for the sales team, improved responsiveness, sharper delivery/execution for shorter sales cycles.
Replacement of paper – being digital allows for cross-referencing, and error reduction.
With the visibility of the operation by all employees, it opens up new creative avenues to drive the business further.
Earn through App stores
We are not eluding to additional revenue being brought on by having an App – but the ability to drive customer segmentation, loyalty plan upgrades, and incentives where the App becomes a premium app – the Bronze, Silver, and Gold plans can be achieved.
Exploring the Free App vs. a Subscribed App, where there are perks such as discount coupons, lower shipping cost incentives, and other features that capture the attention of habitual shoppers, it is said that up to 60% would consider converting and receive those benefits. Additional conveniences could be applied such as saved payment methods (or using Apple/Google Pay directly), saved delivery addresses, or gift-wrapping services.
For more mature businesses, additional segmentation can be applied such as the airline industry adopted for their travel classes, as well as their VIP Lounge privileges, and their mileage plans. Credit card companies do the same with their cards/plans with discounted rates based on volumes of purchases and reduced APR’s for the higher plans. When it relates these segmented customer groups to Apps, are the delivery and incentifying your customers to progress in the benefits scheme. When App Development is planned in this area, tools that recognize the spending pattern and suggest to the customer that their purchase behavior fits the next plan and there are advantages in they can benefit from – it enhances their user experience and brand loyalty.
Improve shopping frequency by customers
Apps can entice customers to shop more frequently by having incentives built into the App such as discount coupons when a certain amount of spending is reached.
Recently the grocery store LIDL in the UK introduced their Lidl Plus App in August 2020, where you are to receive a £2 discount coupon that will last 6days when you reach £100 in checkout receipts, with a £10 discount when reaching £200 spend that month. Every month it resets, and the coupons expire to drive a further return of the customer within the 6days. This incentivizes to have customers come more frequently to the store, and spend more frequently. Additionally, they have discount coupons within the App that can be redeemed at the checkout when items in your basket relate to them.
Overall, the introduction of their App has had a positive customer experience since most everyone has a mobile phone, and getting a “free” benefit with a copy of your receipts in your pocket gives you the ability to track purchases, increase your mindshare of LIDL, plan your purchases so as to reach the coupon goals, and receive the benefits. The engagement achieves a loyalty drive, a competitive advantage compared to other stores where features such as Store-to-door deliveries, shopping lists, finding your nearest stores are conveniences – not money-in-your-pocket features.
Apps can help you differentiate even in the most competitive environments, with basic product categories making you stand out as a cost-saving brand.
Easy to do business with you
The fine line between an App being intuitive, informative, convenient, practical, and being a companion on your portable device requires thought, planning, marketing strategy, and strong execution.
With a strong Marketing influence where the tenets of the business are strongly pushed to differentiate your business from others, adherence to the 4P’s and a well thought out interface, just the right information provided, interactive support, relevant push notifications announcements the delivery can be a business multiplier for you and your staff. When this is reached, the clients will feel that it is easy to do business with you via the App.
Take the Burger King App – introduced a few years ago, with a key purpose to provide digital coupons to their customers as an incentive to drive them to their restaurants over others (mainly McDonald's). They have a discounted meal rotating on a daily basis, with Push notifications reaching out to you with today’s special discount just before lunchtime. Brand equity, incentive, and customer loyalty over a simple App that delivers for the customers is effective and appreciated.
Business Model App – creating your own marketplace
A Business Model App brings a whole new category to the table since there have been some instances that tech visionaries took the plunge to revolutionize existing industries to re-invent that space. The likes of Uber, PayPal, eBay, Skype, Amazon, and many more have changed our landscape from decades ago. Each one in its own way used Apps to deliver its innovative way to deliver that service.
App Development brainstorming can uncover new ways to bring people together, closer to their products or needed services, as well as monitor their finances, homes, and assets. There are now thousands of industries that are being looked at, consolidating complex industries with simpler solutions using their smartphones. Pocket computing has revolutionized the centralized hierarchy where the head-office was the central control of all that operated within its reach to satellite auditable operations leaving the head-office to monitor, guide, and lead rather than continually manage.
When employees subscribe to a distributed system adhering to the App’s rules and requirements, communities build and a new marketplace emerges. This happened with VoIP and Skype where the combination of technologies came together and made it all possible – NAT Traversal, G.729/711/723 Codecs, Softphone App, and an IP switching. Using the internet to communicate, bypassing incumbent phone infrastructures, and therefore revolutionizing telephony in the early 2000s. Additional networks have emerged such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and many more.
While the business cases for these industry evolutions driven by the application of Apps on smartphones can be measured in large investments, they only became large when the idea was proven and was nurtured to their potential via investment, leadership, and innovation. App development will be critical for all new industry evolutions and revolutions in communications, organization, and reaching out widely within populations.
Generating your Case Study for your App Development
The process to start thinking of your App Development would begin with the following list:
Goal Setting – what is the App to achieve, sometimes in phases of development.
Marketing and Branding – look/feel of the App, and how it will communicate to the users/customers.
Perform a competitive analysis of your competitor’s Apps, pros/cons, best practices, and key features.
Security – how will it provide a secure space for clients, will they connect to FB, Google, or the Smartphone login credentials.
Social Media Networks for interactions, testimonials, and comments.
Process definition of user flow, notifications, data structures, alerts, timed events, reports, and operational roles identified.
Management overview, audits, and consolidated reports on various aspects of the system.
Identifying systems integrations, API’s, and DB’s accesses.
“Wireframing” your interfaces for your clients, your employees, and IT/Management.
Have a resulting architectural diagram on how your App will operate.
With your case Study defined, an ROI can then be assessed to size your opportunity for the effort being invested into having your App in the App Store.
Apps Development is a process to package your business and be present in your customer’s pocket. From a small business to mass proliferation the range is far and wide on its application. Knowing your business model, understanding your customer’s needs, and how you operate are the key elements to map out your requirements in defining how your App should interact with the customer. With a well thought out marketing structure, the App can deliver a significant boost to your business in both sales, business automation savings, and customer satisfaction and loyalty. Should you consider this as your next step in your business – feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we would be happy to have a discussion over your plans.
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