Smartphones and tablets have become the device of choice for many professionals, which have led to the dominance of apps (short for application). Apple’s popular slogan for their App Store “There’s an app for that” has instilled the idea that people need to use apps on their phones rather than go to a website – even websites that are optimized for mobile. In fact, a recent Pollara survey on app use in Canada revealed that we now have an average of 14 apps on our smart devices and use them on a weekly or daily basis.
Large companies such as Best Buy and Pizza Pizza have branded apps that provide the customer with a shopping experience that is unique to their smart device. It lets customers accomplish what they can do on a full website in just a few finger swipes, such as ordering a pizza or even purchasing a new 50-inch television! Not all apps are used for e-commerce, as some apps just deliver information.
All of this talk about apps might cause you to wonder if you too should consider getting one for your business. But before you go down what can be a lengthy process, I’ve outlined below four key areas you should consider before you decide whether an app is right for your business.
1) Customer Demand: Have you had customers approach you asking for an app? Will there be a fan base waiting once your app is available? Just because you are excited to release an app doesn’t mean that your target audience feels the same way. If the demand isn’t there, your app will simply become another of thousands of failed apps that are never downloaded.
2) Competition: Do your key competitors have an app? What services do they offer on it? You will need to closely monitor what your competitors are doing and try to improve on it, while being careful not to simply imitate it.
3) Development: How are you going to develop your app? What functionality will it have, and what platforms will it be released on (Apple, Android, etc.)? Do you have someone who will develop the app in house or will you hire an external company? Developing an app can be very expensive, depending on what functionality you want to include in it.
4) Maintenance: How do you plan to maintain your app once it is released? How will you update the content and test for bugs? An app is never just a simple release into the wild. You will not only need to update content regularly, but also update the app for new software releases for phones and tablets.
You must make sure that your investment in an app is worth it in the long-term. Don’t rush into the flooded app market without a plan, or your app will simply go unnoticed.
Does your SMB currently have an app? Do you think an app would benefit your business? Have your customers mentioned an app to you before? I look forward to reading your opinions on this topic in the comments below.