If you’re asking yourself any of the following questions or thinking any of the following statements, then this blog is for you.
Does your business have an App?
We should have an app for this!
Can we set up an app for that?
It would save a lot of time if I could do this online.
How much would it cost to get an app built for that?
App – App – App (sounds like the invaders from the 90’s movie “Mars Attacks”)
So…seriously…let’s get down to the “why” you would need a mobile app for your business:
In general terms, the advantage of an app is the ability for a user to access a business process using mobile technology in a way that optimizes the pros (and cons) of a mobile interface. To date, this means that a user needs to interact effectively with a relatively small screen application efficiently in a potentially dynamic environment. (i.e. remote, loud, social, mobile).
Beyond the general considerations, you need to consider the broad category of what an app is for from a functional sense:
- Internal Business Process Support.
- Retail/Commerce Facilitation.
- Marketing Loyalty Solutions.
Internal Business Support
These are apps that are used to move a specific business process along. For example, a time sheet logging app for remote work crews, a dispatch order system for a courier business or an app that allows insurance agents to get quotes or sign up customers on the spot. This type of app is not for public access and requires some form of login security for the user and can vary in complexity from a simple series of forms to Geo location and route optimization displays.
From general “sell all” apps (Amazon, eBay, Esty) to specific boutique brands (Tiffany’s, Sacks, Macy’s) the purpose of this category is to make the sale. Users are generally the public who can set up a profile through the app to store settings. Through use of the app products and services can be searched for and orders can be initiated and managed.
Marketing Loyalty Solutions
For businesses where location is important. Loyalty Solutions have features that make customers aware of offers or give perks for repeat visits. Single use and scan coupons, screen based “scratch and save” or location-based push notifications are some examples. This type of app should be brand oriented and designed with an attractive and easy to use interface so people are motivated to install it on their mobile devices.
Platforms (and Cost Comparisons)
- Mobile Optimized Web App
- SAAS App Platform
- Custom App
Mobile Optimized Web App
Starting with the least expensive option – a browser-based app is a good way to go. Basically, it is just a website using the latest html standards that is optimized by design for the small screen of a mobile browser. Though the least expensive to develop, it has the disadvantage of not being as fast or responsive when WIFI or mobile data transmission is slow. Also, it is not an app a user can “download” or “install” on their devices – it is really just a website. So, features like push notifications and proximity/location-based features don’t work.
SAAS App Platform
SAAS (Software As A Service) is a good choice for small to medium sized businesses to choose an app platform, such as Swiftic or AppMachine, as this takes away the expense of custom coding and replaces it with a relatively low monthly rate for use and support. Though you have to stay within the functions offered in a given service platform, they are usually rich enough to create and configure a professional loyalty app. For apps that need custom forms or function you will still need to hire a professional for special integrations. For straight forward loyalty/marketing apps this is likely the best choice.
This is, right off the bat, the most expensive option in all cases. The advantage is that you can have exactly what you want as long as your budget allows for it. This option should only be considered if your business is mostly via online sales and online relationship building or you have a proprietary business process that has a clear ROI (Return On Investment) or expense reduction if you employ a mobile app. If you can check off the boxes of clear need, ROI and expense reduction then custom is the way to go.
What Choice Should I Make?
The need for an app is a given. All firms that wish to leverage marketing via the digital economy and social media trends require some form of app. To ignore this option will seriously handicap your business plans. It is like sticking with a telephone and never using email. It is simply not an option anymore.
The choice of what your apps should do is a reflection of a multifaceted business and marketing plan (Umm you do have a plan right?). A useful app for marketing may be a combination of retail portal and loyalty solution. A business process app may have a marketing friendly quote function when an employee is using it to help the sales process with a customer. Function needs to be balanced with cost to develop, implement and cost of use over time. The factors outlined in this article must be considered as a whole. This can be a complex task depending on your business model.
If you’re unsure about what social media platforms to use, download our Free Whitepaper that educates you with statistics and usability. At AlphaKOR we can discuss options with you to help you with this decision. No matter where your business is located, we can connect and create a solid digital foundation for you.