According to Pew Research, 81% of Americans now own a smartphone. This percentage rises to over 90 percent for those aged between 18 and 49. Considering that most people always carry their devices with them, this poses an incredible opportunity for businesses to use a mobile app to reach their customers.
In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of mobile apps for businesses and how you can use them to provide valuable customer experience.
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A Mobile App Can Increase Sales
More sales is ultimately what all business owners want, right? Whether you are a coffee shop, fitness studio, restaurant or any other type of business, increasing sales is what will lead to the success of your business.
Apps can help. Studies have found that time spent in-app correlates strongly with sales. Additionally, industry experts at eMarketer predict that by 2021 the majority of eCommerce sales will come via mobile.
AppInstitute’s own research suggests that apps can increase sales. We found that after 12 months of adoption, the average number of online orders per customer per month grew from 1.21 to 2.48, the average annual online spend per customer increased by 112%, and the average online spend per customer increased by 51%.
Compete with Larger Competitors
Running a small business is never easy, and you need every advantage you can get to help compete with larger brands. Having an app can help you do this by letting you offer the same experiences as your larger competitors.
An example of how an app lets small businesses compete with larger brands is by helping restaurants provide a Mobile Order Ahead service. Mobile Order Ahead is a way of ordering at restaurants or cafes in which customers order the food before arriving at the store and then pick it up when they get there.
It is a trend that has seen significant growth over the last year, with large chains such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Chipotle reporting year-on-year double-digit growth of this type of order.
Customers seem to like it too. PYMNTS.com reported that nearly three-quarters of customers expressed an interest in using Mobile Order Ahead because of its potential to save money and reduce the frustration of waiting in line.
Once larger companies roll this out, it is likely to become something that customers look for when deciding where to buy. By having an app with this capability, small businesses can offer the same experience as their larger competitors.
Beyond Mobile Order Ahead, there are many ways an app can help small businesses compete with larger ones. Here are some of them:
- By offering in-app ordering, independent fashion stores can provide the same mobile shopping experience as brands like Zara and H&M.
- Taking advantage of a loyalty scheme means coffee shops can compete with Starbucks.
- Having an app with a live stream to their station can help independent radio stations take on industry leaders such as the BBC.
- In-app table booking and reservations let restaurants provide the same features as the likes of Pizza Hut.
Communicate Directly with Customers
Apps provide a simple way for businesses and consumers to connect. Most obviously, this can come through push notifications.
Your business can send notifications to customers to alert them of offers or news about your business. While you don’t want to send too many notifications for fear of annoying your customer if your notifications provide value, it can be a good way to keep customers using your app.
Direct messaging is another way that apps allow direct communication between the customer and your business. Customers will often want or expect help when making purchasing decisions. Direct messaging makes it easy for them to contact someone while buying, potentially helping them answer any questions they have about your product or service.
If you don’t have the resources to have someone continually manning a direct messaging portal, including your phone number and email address within the app, can make it easier for customers to contact you.
Simplify the Buyer Journey
Just a few years ago, when a customer wanted to make a purchase, they had to come into your shop physically. More recently, they were able to make purchases by finding a computer, heading to your website, and choosing what they wanted to buy.
With a mobile app, you take this evolution one step further by making it easy for customers to buy from you wherever they are. They no longer have to come to your physical location or log in to a computer.
While mobile websites also do this, there are several advantages of mobile apps over websites.
Apps are generally faster to use as customers no longer have to navigate to the website on their phone. They open the app and are already on your platform.
Additionally, customers that use mobile apps can stay logged in and save their details, including payment and delivery information, to their phone, making payments more convenient.
Build Customer Loyalty
Having loyal customers can increase sales at your company. Studies have shown that members of loyalty schemes spend more than non-members. Other research suggests that it is much cheaper to sell to existing companies than new ones.
Businesses can improve customer loyalty with an app through a customer loyalty program. These programs encourage customers to make repeat purchases by offering rewards to those who frequently buy at your store.
Starbucks is a brand that knows the value of a good loyalty program. The most recent figures from the company show that its Starbucks members program has an incredible 17.6 million active members, with the CEO calling the program an “important growth driver.”
Build Your Brand Value
Providing a positive in-app experience can help build your brand value. WillowTree found that positive app experiences can drive sales.
The company found that when an app experience is positive: 67% of people would sign up for loyalty programs, 64% would make purchases through the app, 50% would use the app regularly, and 47% said it would increase their brand loyalty.
There are other ways an app can build brand value. Having an app puts your company in the same category as larger businesses. It makes you appear to be at the cutting edge of technology. It also provides further brand visibility as customers can interact with your brand in more ways.
Provides a Personalized Experience
Another benefit of mobile apps for businesses is that apps provide a personalized experience. For example, you can schedule notifications using geolocation technology so that the customer receives a notification when they are close to your business.
Alternatively, you can create customer segments and then tag each customer based on these segments to provide more relevant content. This will allow a restaurant to send one offer to families and a different one to young professionals.
Increase Brand Engagement
Apps are an excellent tool to increase how much a customer engages with your brand. They do this in several ways.
- Loyalty schemes give your customers reason to keep buying from your store.
- Once a user has installed the app, you can use notifications to get them to reopen it.
- Users can communicate with your brand directly through the app. By making it easier for users to get in touch, they are more likely to do so.
- By releasing app content frequently, you can encourage users to keep coming back for more. McDonald’s app has coupons that change every week. This encourages users to check back frequently. Another example is the BBC Radio app, which publishes regular content from its shows to keep users interested.
There are many benefits of mobile apps for business owners. These benefits come together to create an optimal customer experience, potentially making them more loyal and more likely to purchase from your company.