It seems like pretty much every business today has an app. But is it actually going to be valuable for your business, or is it just going to be a waste of time?
Are Your Customers Going to Use It?
Many business owners make the mistake of developing an app without asking two very important questions: will my customers use it? And if they will, what do they want it for? After all, the customer is always right — especially when it comes to something that they are going to have to download and keep on their personal device. Customers tend to enjoy loyalty apps, deals, and discounts when dealing with retail space; anything that makes them feel valued and save them money.
Polling your customers is important because of your demographics. It’s always possible to fall into a niche area where many of your customers are disinclined to use apps… And this isn’t always just older customers. There are customers who simply have too many phone apps and therefore need to be more selective about the apps that they do download. And there are customers who are simply too casual about a product to want to invest their time and efforts. iPhone apps or Android apps may also poll differently.
This also relates to how large your business is and how many customers you currently have. Apps become exponentially more useful as your business grows — but it can also be helpful in getting smaller businesses off the ground.
What Is Your App Going to Do?
Just having an app obviously isn’t enough. It has to add value to your business in a unique way. As examples:
- A car repair shop may have an app that tells customers when their vehicle needs to be serviced or provides information regarding basic car maintenance.
- A clothing store may upload new finds into a catalog, so customers can create their own unique looks and bring it into the store with them.
- A grocery store may push coupons and savings directly to the customer, so they know exactly what is available at the store before they get there. A shopping list app could add further value.
- A pet store might contain interesting tips regarding the care for animals, which also ties into items that can be purchased.
- A coffee shop may have a coffee of the day app, which promotes and discounts specific blends and mixes each day.
Of course, the more complicated your app is, the more expensive it will also be. Before getting too involved in the process, it’s a good idea to get a professional quote regarding the projected costs involved. App development is often more complex than an SMB would guess.
Will Your App Be Unique?
Finally, an app does not have to be completely unique, but if it isn’t unique then it does need to have some value or some specific angle. There are dozens of level apps available from contracting companies, for instance, and a bubble level isn’t likely to improve upon sales. The app has to be tied into the products and services that your business provides, or it isn’t going to be able to entice your customer base. This goes back to finding out what your customers are currently looking for in an app, rather than making assumptions regarding what they might find useful.
Most businesses are going to find it useful to develop an app eventually, but whether or not it’s truly a valuable enterprise is going to depend a lot on where your organization currently is at. Polling your customers can give you some key insights early on, while later you may need to pay attention to ROI.