Warning to Small Businesses: If You Don’t Create Your Own App, Your Competitors Can Steal Your Customers

According to a recent report by Cisco, there will soon be more mobile-connected devices in the world than there are people. This could happen by the end of the year. As we know, as the number of mobile-connected devices increases, so does the number of uses consumers find for those devices. As mobile app builders and developers, we have seen a huge increase in app creation, especially by small businesses.

Many industry experts predict that we will soon reach a tipping point where people will search for businesses in app stores instead of search engines. In other words, if you are a small business and you don’t have your own app, nobody is going to find you. It is going to be as if your business doesn’t exist. Needless to say, that won’t bode well for your bottom line.

We would like to give you a quick “app development 101” course here. You can build two kinds of apps: native apps or Mobile Web apps. A native app is written for an operating system. They are installed directly onto your mobile device, and run on its operating system. Right now, that means Android apps and iOS apps, but we project that Windows apps will soon become popular, too. At this point, you can buy iOS apps through the Apple Store, or Android apps through Google Play.

The other kind of app is a Mobile Web app. Mobile Web apps run on a web browser, which makes them usable across all mobile devices. The downside is that they run slower. Also, it is more difficult for users to find Mobile Web apps because there is no “clearing house” or store for them.

You can build either kind of app with DIY tools, or you can hire an app developer such as SmarterApps.  It is obviously less expensive to use DIY tools, but they offer a lot less than what a professional Mobile Web, Android, or iOS app developer does. It is also a lot more inconvenient, and most DIY tools require at least some knowledge of some kind of code, whether it’s CSS, HTML, or JavaScript. Some have drag and drop tools, but they are usually less flexible than those that require code.

Obviously, the main drawback with hiring an app builder is the price, but a successful app makes development costs back very quickly, after which it’s all profit for your business.

There are a lot of reasons that apps make money for small businesses. First and foremost, it’s a very effective marketing tool. Inversely, the absence of an app is a huge liability, because your competitors either already have their own apps or are having them developed, now or in the near future.

Another reason to have an app is that it helps supply potential customers with information. For example, a US real estate firm called Zeitlin and Company Realtors has its own app that uses GPS to find a user’s location, and then supply that user with a map that shows every home for sale in the immediate area. The app also tells the user about lot size, house details, price, and even gives information on school districts and nearby restaurants, grocery stores, and banks.

Many retail operations have apps that allow users to get information on a product in the store by scanning its bar code. This gives their customers all of the information they need to make buying decisions. This saves a lot of the staff’s time, and helps the owner reduce payroll costs.

Restaurant apps can allow customers to order or make reservations over the Internet, and can give customers menu information, including daily specials. It isn’t popular yet, but some restaurants are even experimenting with apps that allow customers to place their orders directly to the kitchen without waiting for a waiter or waitress to take their order.

Apps also help develop brand loyalty. When all of the particulars are removed, an app has two main purposes: to make it easier for a customer to find you and make it easier for that customer to do business with you. Nothing develops brand loyalty like customer satisfaction.

There is a principle of business that is underutilised and underrated, but is very relevant for apps and customer loyalty: the first company that makes a customer happy has the first chance to make them a lifetime customer. The best way to make a customer happy is to make it as easy as possible for them to do business with you.

An app is a great way to make it easy for your customers to do business with you.  Don’t lose your customers to the competition by not having an app.

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