The apps advantage: How a mobile app can reshape your business

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Right now businesses are realising how important a mobile app is for their future success. Not only can apps stimulate new revenues, generate cost savings and deliver a superior customer experience, they have become critical to remaining competitive in a fast changing and disruptive market place.

Back in the day when the internet was first making an impact on business many companies wondered did they really need a website. However, it didn’t take long for them to realise that without a website they were at a disadvantage if their competitors made the move online. Moreover, having a website allowed their business to extend their customer reach and automate many parts of their business functions.

With mobile apps, businesses are now at the same decision point. Should they develop an app? For some businesses this is not an easy question to answer, they need to consider the following: What can an app do that my website can’t? and Is it just enough to make my website mobile friendly?

We covered the latter question in a previous blog Why Hybrid Apps Are Crushing Native Apps where we suggest that a website tailored to function better on mobile devices is not the same or as good as a mobile app. Mobile websites have the disadvantage of not being able to use some of a smartphone’s basic native capabilities such as Address Book, Camera and Accelerometer, or the use of push messaging and enhanced capabilities. In short, a mobile website doesn’t offer the best mobile advantage for your business to stimulate revenues, generate cost savings, improve customer experience and make you as competitive as possible.

Below are some examples of how apps can improve all aspects of your business:

Increased brand & recognition: Having your brand in your customers’ pocket means your brand and services are constantly being rediscovered and used. A pizza chain whose brand is always on a user’s phone can stimulate more repeat orders through sheer convenience of accessibility (e.g. Just Eat app).

Increased customer engagement: Even when an app is not being used, you can trigger push messages to a customer’s screen. This can be used to promote offers or information to your customers to keep them engaged with your business. These messages can be targeted by context or location.
New direct marketing and sales channel:  Apps serve many functions: they can provide general info, prices, booking forms and ecommence checkouts, which give your business a route to market that is accessible anywhere.

Increased customer loyalty and value: Digitising your loyalty program and offering mobile coupons are just some of the ways apps can provide value to your customers. Geo-fenced messages that trigger promotions as your customers walk by your stores are another example. The Starbucks app is a great example of this in action.
Leaner business with enhanced customer experience: Apps can make your business leaner and more efficient while at the same time enhancing your overall customer experience. Self-care is just one example of this – costs to your business for customer care can be reduced significantly by allowing customers to manage self-care issues directly through a mobile app e.g. where is my order, organise returns etc. Another example might be automating form filling with employees e.g. managing a sales team in the field.

Neutralising threats:Some markets are completely disrupted and taken over by businesses that implement successful apps. One need only look at how the taxi market was disrupted by Halo.

The main reason that many businesses do not try a mobile app is due to the perceived cost barrier. It’s true, mobile apps have traditionally had quite significant capital investment costs and support and maintenance costs. However times are changing and now it’s possible to get a mobile app and keep it maintained at similar rates to those of managing a website, particularly by choosing the right mobile network. eir Advantage Apps is a good viable solution to getting your business into the app space to test benefits for yourself without any major investments or risks to your business.

So what type of app will you build for your business?