Mobile Apps are Revolutionizing Small Businesses
Just as the proliferation of Internet made it imperative for all businesses – big and small – to build a web presence, the explosion in popularity of smart, Internet-enabled mobile devices has made it mandatory for all businesses to build mobile websites or mobile apps.
According to MobiThinking, by the end of 2012 there were 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. Out of the total mobile subscriptions, 2.1 billion were owned by people who accessed the web through mobile. In the US, 25% of mobile device holders access the web only through mobiles; in India, the number of mobile-only web users is 59%. It’s clear that mobile Internet is big, and it is getting bigger.
Small businesses have been watching the growth of smart mobile and mobile Internet keenly. A survey by ConstantContact showed that 66% of small businesses were using mobile devices for business purposes. More than 70% of all small businesses survey said that they used mobile technology for social media marketing and email marketing. 34% have mobile optimized websites, while 18% use apps to manage different operations.
A report by Small Business and Entrepreneur Council shows that productivity and utility mobile apps are helping 1.28 million small business owners in the US to save 372.8 million owner hours every year. But, all this is just a tip of the iceberg of possibility.
Let’s take a look at how small businesses are making an innovative use of cutting-edge mobile features to engage customers, improve shopping experiences, and boost sales.
1. Local Business use Geo-location Apps to Make the Perfect Pitch
Local stores and businesses face a lot of competition from online stores. What sets small business apart from their online competitors is their ability to provide services tailored to suit the needs of their customers. For example, local stores are building apps that take advantage of the GPS feature in smartphones to detect when the user is in the vicinity of the small business premises.
On the basis of predefined settings the app can automatically send reminders, offers, or discount-related messages to the customers; in addition, such apps can help first-time visitors get turn-by-turn directions to the store. This helps small businesses improve customer experience as well as drive sales.
2. Businesses Use Apps to Take Payment Anywhere
There are lots of free and paid apps that enable a small business owner to take payment at any location. For small businesses that do not operate in a fixed location such apps are godsend. Most customers prefer to pay with their cards and many small businesses lose out on potential revenue because they do not have the power to process these transactions.
New mobile apps and solutions enable small business to take payments, create online stores, add products, and send invoices to pockets of their customers. Apps increase the flexibility and speed of small businesses and entrepreneurs to process transactions that otherwise would be out of their reach.
3. Apps Enable Small Business to Gather Critical Data
Small businesses use Google Analytics and other tools to tease out trends from their user data – but not all businesses have a strong online operation from which to find insights into customer behavior. Mobile applications that provide services, information or purchase-pathways to customers are extremely useful in monitoring and analyzing the customer behavior. A small business can analyze the spending ability, location, and demographics of their customers to offer better services.
Using all that information, it is possible for entrepreneurs to offer a better customer experience to their customers. For example, businesses can use custom apps to survey visitors, provide them with FAQs on the basis of real customer interactions, send product information that suits the individual needs of specific visitors, and broadcast tailored communications to their customers. With apps, small businesses now have the power to automatize personalized services.
A smart use of custom mobile apps can help small businesses gain positive publicity, offer better services, generate customer interest, improve customer relations, and build a strong brand image. Not all small businesses need to develop customer-facing mobile apps – but developing customized apps can bring a good return on investment and help businesses set themselves apart from the competition.
Jack is working for MyFirstMobileApp – a custom mobile application development company. He has worked on several mobile app development projects and he is fascinated by creative ways in which pioneering small businesses are using mobile apps.