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BFS Capital Blog

Building a Mobile App for Your Business

August 28, 2016

More than 80 percent of customers prefer mobile apps to traditional mobile websites, according to a study by software company Compuware.

That’s big news for businesses just getting used to having a mobile-friendly site. (If you don’t already have a mobile-ready website, read more about why you might want that to be your first step here.) But in a world of constant contact and instant gratification, that’s not enough anymore.

Customers want instant and seamless access to a company’s products or services. Mobile apps provide a way for businesses to stay connected with their customer and give them what they want when they want it. When done correctly, mobile apps can grow and sustain a solid customer base.  So with that in mind, here are three tips on how to build a great mobile app for your business.

Do Your Research

A mobile app might not work for everyone. Don’t create an app just to have one. There should be good reasoning and insight to back the idea up. Before you go deep into the process of building out an app for your business, determine if it’s something that actually works for you and your target audience.

What do your customers want or need? What problem needs to be solved? How will your business’ mobile app be the solution? Think about why consumers would want to download your app – maybe they want more deals and promotions, they want to stay even more connected or they want a personalized, seamless shopping experience. If you can’t justify the investment required to build a mobile app, then your business may not be ready for one.

Choose Your Platform

In the process of understanding the needs of your customers, you’ll probably find yourself pulling data on how they do their shopping, where they do it and what platforms they use the most (i.e., Android or iOS). Android and iOS are essentially the reining champions when it comes to mobile applications. More than likely, you won’t be launching an app for every platform at the start. So think carefully about your customers’ preferences and what works best for your business style and plan.

Keep It Clean

When new mobile apps roll out, the sales and marketing people always claim the app is a one-stop-shop. Everyone wants to pull business from other companies and say that their app can do it all. Sometimes the app really can do it all. But just because an app has 101 capabilities, that doesn’t mean it’s efficient or better than the competition. When users see that the new app is just an addition to the clutter and not a replacement for something else, they may either uninstall the app or stop using it overall.

When you’re designing your app, think about usability, efficiency and look. Don’t try to do too much at the beginning because customers might feel overwhelmed whenever they open up the app. Start with the basics. Make your inventory available, make it easy to search and simplify the checkout process. Users should also be able to customize the app to fit their individual preferences. It should be easy to disable or enable notifications and also simple to edit and update user profiles. Your app should be easy to use for even the least tech-savvy person.

Mobile apps, if done correctly, can provide a big boost for the right business. By optimizing the customer experience and embracing mobile marketing trends, small businesses can use mobile apps to get closer to their target customers and to capitalize on the increased reliance on mobile shopping.