2016 Is the Year Small Businesses Must Develop Mobile Apps


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Apps are no longer considered merely a “branding exercise” for small businesses. Business owners are becoming wise to the marketing power a well-designed, intuitive app can bring. From simplifying online purchases to providing easy-to-access information, the benefits are undeniable which is why small businesses must develop mobile apps to stay competitive.

Why Small Businesses Must Develop Mobile Apps

In previous years, the rising cost of custom app developers made apps an impossible expense for small businesses. The recent growth of software development kits that streamline the app development process and allow even non-coders to create a fully-functioning app have dramatically reduced the cost of creating an app.

The affordability and fast development times these kits allow has encouraged more businesses than ever to create their own apps.

As social media use continues to rise, consumers are becoming more open to engaging with brands on a day-to-day basis, even if they aren’t specifically loyal to or purchasers of that particular business. Business owners and marketers are capitalizing on consumers’ desires for interaction by producing entertaining mobile apps. While being fun to use, informational or inspirational, a common characteristic of these apps is that they feature a strong call-to-action to persuade the user to purchase a product or in some way benefit the company in question.

What Types of Small Businesses are Making Apps?

A 2015 analysis of 40,402 apps created with an app development platform found that while “expected” businesses such as restaurants and gyms were highly prevalent, others such as golf courses, hotels, politicians and plumbers were also on the rise.

But why are these industries building more apps? Well, as the ease of building apps increases, so does the amount of potential functionality. One-off investments in systems such as in-app payments or bookings can save businesses money in the long-term as they reduce the amount of time their staff needs to spend fulfilling orders, taking payments or completing bookings.

For businesses that meet potential clients at various locations, the ability to show data or portfolio pieces offline using an app can make the difference between closing the sale and losing the prospect to a competitor.

How are Small Businesses Benefiting from Mobile Apps?

A recent survey showed that 62 percent of the businesses asked already had apps or were in the process of building one. Of those, 20 percent used their apps purely for branding purposes, 30 percent have revenue generating apps and 50 percent use them for support and engagement.

We spend 174 minutes on mobile devices every day. Mobile sales are estimated to have reached $74 billion in 2015 — up 32 percent from 2014. Thirty percent of all online purchases by Millennials are done on mobile devices. This jumps to 33 percent for moms and 43 percent for U.S. Hispanics.

However, apps aren’t just for commerce businesses. Push notifications can be used by any niche to put your brand name directly in front of the smartphone owner. Apps can be used for any type of activity: booking systems, file uploads, vouchers, newsletters, digital magazines, support, providing information, logging exercise or nutrition, showing videos and so much more.

Even businesses that you wouldn’t have thought would benefit from an app are proving critics wrong by producing innovative and engaging apps. For example, an independent pet food supplier could have an app that encourages users to upload comical photographs of their pets for a chance to win a prize. A product for new mothers could build a community of local mums and arrange meet-ups. A realtor could create an app that compares local house prices now to five years ago. The possibilities really are endless. All it takes is a little imagination to devise a system that consumers will enjoy engaging with.

What Does the Future Hold?

The projections around app driven revenue are staggering. Non-game app downloads are estimated to grow 23 percent in the next five years, exceeding $182 billion in 2020. Smartphone adoption in emerging markets should see mobile app store downloads more than double between 2015 and 2020.

Current data about mobile purchasing across the different age groups gives a strong indication that in 5-10 years, everyone is going to be a mobile shopper. Sixty-nine percent of millennials buy products on their smartphones, compared to 53 percent of Gen Xers and 16 percent of Boomers.

The increased market share and spending power this brings will make apps a necessity for B2C businesses in order to streamline a consumer’s journey from product browsing to payment.

The above statistics are also good news for digital agencies that offer mobile app development. As more businesses adopt apps, the demand for their services grows. The development of new ‘smart products’ such as virtual reality and wearable technology may compound this further as apps will need to be adapted to work on new online platforms.

Mobile Phone User Photo via Shutterstock

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Andrew Gazdecki


Andrew Gazdecki Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps, a do-it-yourself mobile app builder and mobile website creator for small businesses with over 500,000 customers worldwide.

9 Reactions

  1. It’s pretty crazy how much apps are taking over mobile devices. Very little time is actually spent calling, texting or even on the actual internet.

    • Andrew Gazdecki

      It really is quite amazing. About 80-90% of time spent on a mobile phone is spent within an app of some kind. And it’s reasonable to anticipate things to continue to progress in this direction!

      • It is inevitable that application use is taking over general phone use. When you think that most of us have used computers to achieve online and automated requirements previously, we are now using a specific mobile device that achieves the same results. Chuck in proximity capability and 4G speeds, we have the online world in the palm of our hands. I am all for good application development and use, it’s my business!

  2. Hey Andrew
    Thanks for the interesting article! Couldn’t agree more with you. As of 2015, about 52.7 per cent of the global mobile population accessed the web using their mobile phones. The statistics clearly indicate the need to include mobile in business strategies as the web is going mobile. It won’t be wrong if I say that creating an app can take businesses to the pockets of customers.
    Sophia Briggs

  3. Businesses want to be the first port of call for their customers and what better way to do that than to have their offerings embedded onto a smartphone? A successful app means a business is only ever a few thumb strokes away from a sale, while apps can also provide valuable data about customers’ needs and preferences. But while the best apps are often very straightforward, don’t be fooled: creating even the simplest interface takes a huge amount of time, research and resources.
    Creating an app is time-consuming and potentially expensive, so businesses must first decide if an app is really mission-critical or advantageous. Market research is key, as the app’s ability to meet customer needs will ultimately determine how successful it is. (additional info http://erminesoft.com/how-retail-business-can-use-mobile-apps/) The costs of creating an app vary significantly, depending on the project and company concerned. Industry insiders suggest a fairly basic app can be created for £15,000 to £20,000, although the average is more likely to be in the region of £50,000 to £70,000. However, depending on the additional back-end architecture required, it’s not unheard of for development costs to rise above £100,000.
    Costs are also impacted by the skills of existing personnel and partners. Many businesses already have web teams in place, meaning they can utilise existing staff. However, unless a business has very strong coding skills, it’s likely to need some outside help.

  4. I agree strongly with the points stated in the article. Apps have become a must-have in order for all businesses to reach parity. It’s no longer just an experiment that the big brands are running. Just to offer some perspective though, it seems that consumers are downloading less apps these days, preferring to spend more time within their messaging apps (Messenger, Telegram, etc) instead.

    So a related trend that business owners should really pay attention to is the rise of bots. Facebook Messenger bots, for example, could be extremely important going forward as they will help with social media management and customer support on those channels. With bots, business owners can automate the support of their customers 24/7, and get that “Very responsive” badge on their pages that’s really important to show quality of their customer care.

  5. Development of apps is more difficult than creating an app. So app developer job is very complicated than app creators. If we make an app but it does not get popularity in public there is no benefit of that app for Entrepreneur or app owner so development is necessary for any app.The information which you have provided here about taking revolutionize in mobile app development strategy is very useful for developers to get success in their mission.

  6. Another perspective to the growing use of apps is the need to make sure the content is accessible. Many websites are doing this but has anyone thought through the effort to build & maintain content that makes the app usable in voice command mode? As more people push to communicate through apps they have to be easy to use or you could fall into a dangerous area of not being convenient & useful.

    I’m struggling to get companies to build compliance into the app framework & business users to add content that enhances the experience. Anyone else in the same boat?

    • Andrew Gazdecki

      Good points Craig. I think the main item to understand is there a key difference between mobile websites and apps. You need to ensure that your mobile app provides functionality that will be used more than once and on a constant basis. This is the key to your mobile app’s success, otherwise I’d recommend a mobile website.

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