The internet brought us Amazon, which inspired other online retailers to start up and got Walmart into the online game as well. Even restaurants got onboard, and before you knew it, a customer could order pizzas online or make reservations via a restaurant’s website. Soon, the competition wasn’t just the big box store or restaurant chain down the street, it was literally the whole world.
Now, the game is changing a bit. Having a web presence alone isn’t enough anymore. Customers now want something even easier to use than a website. Smartphones give them the perfect solution - apps. Apps might seem like the second part of a one-two punch from big business, but in truth they have given small business a tool that will help them compete on the same level. Small business can use mobile apps in the exact same ways that the corporate giants do, and it’s easier than most people think.
What to do First
Before you go app crazy, make sure you have the other online aspects of your business covered. Websites aren’t as useful as they used to be, but people still expect to see them and they should be up to date and modern. They’ve almost become the peacock feathers of the small business world. Make sure your business is properly profiled and represented on Google and review sites like Yelp. App or not, if you don’t exist online, many customers will assume you don’t exist at all.
A Grand Re-Opening
Having a grand re-opening is a wonderful way to reintroduce your business to your community. It can put a new shine on your business and remind old customers who may have forgotten about you that you’re still around and going strong. And a mobile app can be at the center of it all. It can even be the foundation of the renewed commitment to providing the best product or service possible in a way that is more convenient for the customer.
Another good way to think of a grand re-opening is that it feels like getting a new phone. An old phone might be just fine, but you’ve gotten used to it. That once amazing gadget has become as exciting as a toaster. When you finally get a new phone, you’re excited all over again, even if it is only marginally better. That is what a grand re-opening accompanied by a mobile app can feel like for your customers.
Use the Mobile App to Focus on What Your Business Does Best
Each business has its niche or specialty, and guess what? There’s an app for that, and it should be yours. Mobile apps aren’t mini-websites that sit around on people’s smartphones. They are tools where a business and customer can interact with one another. It can be like having a robot sales rep or receptionist answering questions, taking appointments/reservations, and directing customers to where they need to go.
Use a Mobile App to Engage Your Customers and Keep Them Happy
It costs ten times the amount of time and resources to bring in a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Make keeping the customers you already have a top priority. This is where a mobile app can make the word of difference. For one, it provides an almost constant connection between your business and your customers. Push notifications allow you to let them know about any upcoming sales, special offers, or upcoming events. The customer can use it to place an order or provide feedback. Bottom line: a mobile app keeps them engaged.
Think about loyalty programs, as an example. We’ve all either had a wallet or purse full of business cards with holes punched in them, or tried to do something like that with out own business. But what does it show us when a customer turns in a little slip of card stock with holes punched in it? Nothing really, besides that they bought or ordered something X number of times. A loyalty program done within an app will not only keep track of what the customer bought and when, but it could also be programmed to send out automatic reminders like, “You are one carwash away from a few waxing and detailing,” or “Don’t forget. Double points on every purchase this weekend.”
The Sky is the Limit
There is no exhaustive list that tells you all the wonderful uses for a small business mobile app. The reason is that they can do so much, and the only real limit is your creativity. A mobile app is a powerful tool that can give any small business an edge over the competition, and the sooner you get one, the sooner take your business to the next level.