It has been written that mobile apps are for the young, but everybody goes to supermarkets, and the number of people utilizing their mobile apps to see what’s on sale when they make their shopping lists indicate otherwise. Approximately 37% of shoppers have downloaded a food or beverage app according to the National Grocers Association and Supermarket Guru. Supermarkets are leading the way in customer loyalty programs competing for the business of consumers too concerned with saving money to be committed to just one store. Drug stores like Walgreens and even department stores like Target and Macy’s aren’t far behind.
Mobile apps have almost unlimited potential for increasing the visibility of your business as well as building brand loyalty. They also offer relatively inexpensive marketing opportunities for sales promotions and loyalty programs. There is some pretty convincing evidence that loyalty reward programs are effective in providing a good return on investment. Customers love rewards and have been shown to spend more to reach the level at which they will receive one.
Another advantage of mobile apps is that they allow you to gather information about your customers by making it worth their while to give it to you. The more information you have, the better able you will be to customize both your inventory and your marketing strategies to your customers’ preferences. Customers love individualized service almost as much as they love rewards. If you doubt the importance of knowledge of your customers, just think back to a time when you were searching the internet for something, and seemingly like magic, several options for that very thing were presented to you on your social media. Chances are, it was yesterday, or even earlier today.
If you’re considering taking the plunge and investing in a mobile app for your business, there are a few things you should consider first. According to one study, some mobile apps can also alienate customers. Within the past 60 days, 32% of smartphone users of all ages have deleted an app, and 7% of them have been retail apps. The most common reasons for deleting them are that the app doesn’t meet their needs or that it has privacy and security issues. Customers insist on ease of use and security.
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Most experts advise doing some market research before you begin developing an app for your business. It’s always a good idea to download some of your main competitors’ apps to see what functions they provide—and which ones you can be the first to provide. The cost of mobile apps have often been compared to the cost of housing. Depending on what features you want, cost can range anywhere from $500 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, there are platforms that can help you build your own app for significantly less money that it would take to hire a design team. Many of them also offer cloud computing services at monthly rates.
Once you have determined that your business can withstand the cost of the initial investment in developing the app, you must then determine whether it can withstand a sudden increase in business. Numerous studies show that one of the top reasons that businesses fail is because they take steps towards growth before having all the necessary backup resources in place first. Those resources include financial resources readily available for purchasing additional inventory and hiring additional staff. If your business is unprepared for growth, it can negatively affect the quality of your customer service. Having too few staff or too little inventory can result in alienating the same new customers that your fabulous new mobile app has attracted.
Since most people now use smartphones more than desk computers to research product information, it’s pretty safe to say that most, if not all businesses, can benefit from a mobile app. It is fast becoming a requirement, rather than a luxury, for businesses to remain competitive. It’s now not a matter of if, but when. Making sure that you create and launch the right app at the right time will make all the difference in whether the investment becomes a benefit or a liability for your business.
Author: Philip Piletic lives in Australia and works for Kroll Ontrack. His primary focus is the fusion of technology, business and marketing, and he loves to share his experience with others by contributing to several blogs and helping others achieve success.