Mobile-First Approach: Don’t neglect your users' needs!
by Fedor Kiryakov
Mobile applications have become a good tool for small business development. Still, entrepreneurs do not see this due to the prevailing stereotype that mobile development is expensive. In the small business industry, the issue of mobile application development is becoming more and more relevant. Today, even small brands can afford to create an application. SMB confidently catches up with large organizations using this practical business tool for several years. Why small retailers need apps? How apps help your customers? How to get an app quickly and inexpensively? And altogether, why Mobile-First approach is a must for SMB in 2021?
The main reason for the growth in the number of mobile applications among small companies is price. Their development is now becoming more accessible because now applications do not have to be created from scratch. Representatives of small companies make extensive use of application templates with ready-made code and design. They have to add their logo and name. While this option limits freedom of expression, it is the most realistic option for small businesses. Another reason for the growing popularity of mobile applications is their proven efficiency. Smaller companies are analyzing the experiments of more powerful competitors. This helps to reduce the risks.
Who creates the apps?
Mainly, representatives of small businesses adopt the Mobile-First philosophy because large organizations have long acquired their applications. But which companies are most profitable to use mobile solutions? Clutch surveyed 355 small business owners in the United States and came up with some interesting findings:
- Small companies with young owners (under 45) are twice as likely to create apps as companies with older owners.
- The company's size also affects mobile adoption: only 15% of companies with fewer than ten employees develop applications. Organizations with 51-500 employees are 65% more likely to create their apps.
What are the applications for?
People don't download branded apps just because they exist. The app must offer value. This is why developers usually focus not on direct selling but on offering customers value. This approach provides the best results. The ultimate goal remains the same - to increase revenue and sales. But it is not achieved directly.
What functions are there in the apps?
It is essential to strike a balance when choosing features for applications. An overloaded application will tire the user, and you will waste a lot of resources. Try to use only those features that users need. This will help increase your ROI. Many small companies use the following features in their applications to provide them with a high return on investment:
- Integration with social networks - 20%
- Mobile payments - 19%
- Personalization - 15%
- Loyalty programs - 13%
- Location Based Services - 12%
- Calendar - 11%
- Push notifications - 11%
Does anyone use mobile apps from little-known stores?
Yes! And how they do it is fantastic! For example, according to available research by Mastercard, 84% of Russians use smartphones for online purchases. And 36% of them do it at least once a week through local retailers and food delivery services. And the numbers are only growing with the generation who find it easier to place an order in the application than to make a call or wait for a website to load in a browser.
I have a small business. Why do I need an application?
Along with smartphones came a new understanding of communication, just like mobile phones and the ability to call people anytime, anywhere. At that time, a boom of hotlines, call centers began, and organizations began to write their phone numbers in a prominent place so that customers could quickly contact them.
Now the situation is the same: the mobile application has become a full-fledged sales channel. And they are developing it primarily so that your customers make purchases the way they used to do it - using a smartphone. This will bring you closer to your customers. They will have your store with all the promotions, a convenient catalog, extraordinary prices, and online payment right in their pocket. Your loyalty tool enables you to work with your target audience using tools such as push notifications and promotions.
Will the mobile application work only for those stores with delivery?
Not at all. The application is an additional communication channel with the buyer, implying delivery registration and pre-order and a bonus card. The solution's value can be both in saving your employees' time and costs for the work of cashiers and managers and increasing customer loyalty.
Why does my business need a mobile application if I have a perfectly adapted website for smartphones?
Let's guess, about 80% of your ad traffic is from mobile users. Criteo has proven that users view four times more product items through apps than through a responsive site. They concluded that conversion rates in a mobile app are three times higher than in browsers. Also, the Mobile-First approach allows you to use all the smartphone functionality to interact with the user. Starting with the camera to determining the location and up to remotely determining the version of the device. Push notifications are one of the most effective ways to deliver your information to the screen of a shopper's device. Still, they can be turned off in a couple of clicks, so don't overdo it.
How does a mobile application increase sales?
The mobile application itself does not increase anything; it is a channel for additional traffic and increasing loyalty. Briefly about the benefits that only the application and no other sales platform provide:
- Uses geolocation and reminds customers to come to you for shopping if they are nearby;
- Stores data about the bonus card: balance, history of accruals and debts;
- It doesn't require long authorization (which often kills the buyer's motivation);
- Users can view the history of past orders;
- Creates conditions for impulse purchases via push notifications;
- It increases the buyer's confidence in the seller.
It sounds good, but the application is more complicated and takes longer than the site. It costs more both in development and in support. Not really. You've probably tried to develop a website yourself. There are already similar constructors for applications that help you create a branded mobile application without a programmer and in a few days. Such platforms painlessly provide your application for cheap support or a percentage of sales. One of the new platforms on the market is ESHOP. The company has a free personal manager for everything from development to releases in the App Store and Google Play. The solution is an acquiring partner of Sberbank and allows you to connect Apple and Google Play. Customers will switch from site to application, and in total, we will not receive more income, and costs will increase.
A mobile app is an excellent tool for working with a loyal audience, which ensures the growth of LTV (total income per customer). Suppose the website redirects the user to purchase in a mobile application. In that case, this will provide you with an increase in the average check and frequency of purchases. Mobile applications are characterized by a high percentage of returning users (more than 70%). So your lead from advertising traffic, who, after buying on the site, forgets about your store, will return if he has a mobile application installed.
If I develop an application, will I need a lot of money to promote it?
No, every company has its working mechanisms for finding new clients. Just add your application information to them. For example, post links on the site, prepare publications on social networks, create a QR code and place it on brochures, menus, and the entrance lobby. Also, ask your employees to remind customers of the app's existence. Or you can come up with an exciting quest on social networks, where customers will receive prizes and promotional codes for installing the application.
How are applications created?
The most popular questions among small business owners are "How do I make an app?" and "Which developers are the best?" It's not so easy to answer them because there are different types of mobile solutions. Each option has its own merits and demerits.
- Staff team: Quite an expensive solution. It implies hiring specialists on the staff. Depending on the size of the company, it can be one specialist or a whole team. In this case, you will have to spend not only on salaries for new employees but also on the process of searching for candidates. But this approach has many benefits. You can be sure that the application is developed with a deep understanding of your business, problems, goals, and customers. Also, the in-house team is usually highly interested in creating a compelling product and improving the entire organization's performance.
- Agency: Outsourcing offers high-quality results and lower costs compared to application development in-house. Plus, agencies usually have more experience. Therefore, they can handle even the most unusual project. However, communication problems can arise with this approach. For example, your ideas will be misunderstood. In addition, you will not have anyone to turn to for quick help in case of problems with the application. It is also worth noting that third-party agencies are usually not interested in the company's success, so after paying for the work, their interest in your project will decrease significantly.
- Freelance consultation: This approach to building an application is even cheaper than going to an agency, but it usually has to be combined with a dedicated service. In this case, you pay not for the development of the application but for the knowledge that will help you cope with the task on your own. You can also ask experienced freelancers for help with the product. The disadvantages here will be the same as when working with an agency. However, freelancers are usually more interested in your company's success because reputation is essential to them.
High customer demand for mobile applications, comprehensive functionality, deep user interaction, lack of the need for special knowledge among employees, and the optimal development price make mobile applications an excellent channel for increasing the marginality of small businesses.