Should I have a mobile app? This is a common question asked today by many business owners who are yet to join the mobile race. There’s a lot of reasons to hesitate. Will it pay off, stand out from the competition or will people use it? If you’re a planner, chances are you’re weighing up pros and cons of mobile app development right now. Here’s a list of 5 advantages mobile apps could create for your business, along with some data to back it all up, to help you decide. In the end, of course, it’s your call.
1. Reaching more customers
The first thing that is an obvious benefit of having a mobile application is that it allows you to reach more potential customers than you can ever hope to reach with only a traditional business model. According to Statista, by the year 2021 over 7 billion people globally will own mobile devices (Source). How does that affect your business? Your key customers (current and potential) are bound to be among them. Within mobile reach, ready to interact with your brand and purchase your products. But only if you adapt to their lifestyle and habits, by engaging them through a channel they use on every day basis.
Another research indicates that in 2019 approximately 40% of smartphone users have said they were more likely to browse or shop a company or brand’s mobile application, because it’s easier and/or faster to make a purchase (Source).
2. Responding to demand
Customers are more and more demanding these days. They crave knowledge and when they make a purchase, they want to be sure they’re choosing the best product out there. We live in the age of information after all, so people want to be in the know. Each one of them conducts their own personal research where they compare your products to each other, those of the competition and view customers' reviews and opinions. As they surf through the Internet in search of information it’s highly possible they won’t go back to your page.
In this case, a mobile application can be a powerful tool to help your customers stay informed and make a decision. Beyond that, what people now crave more than ever is that speed and ease mentioned in the previous paragraph. If you provide them with information they seek like product comparison or other users’ opinions in one place, such as your mobile app, they will return the favor. We all live busy lives, so if you want your business to grow, it should adapt to the fast-paced world of its clients.
The thesis that mobile apps are the best tool to help you meet the aforementioned demands is supported by research accumulated in 2020 State of Mobile Report from App Annie (Source):
- Mobile is a critical avenue for omni-channel growth. A mobile app can do more than just convert. It drives research and consideration as well as facilitates fulfillment through solutions like in-store pick up or package tracking.
- A strong correlation (r-value of 0.94) between total retail sales indicates that not only are clients using mobile more to shop, but that businesses are using mobile to enhance their customer’s experience in such a way, they are also more inclined to make purchases in their brick and mortar shops.
- In Q3 2019, Nike’s digital business grew 42% driven by mobile and app experiences
- In 2019 a total of 2.5 billion hours were spent on mobile apps in the weeks of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the two weeks after, indicating a 40% year over year increase
- In the period between Nov 1st and Dec 2nd 2019 Americans spent $33.1 Billion on mobile which represented 40% of all online sales. This year we can expect a number even higher due to COVID induced lockdowns and although it’s difficult to predict whether the changes in consumer behaviour will be permanent, it is safe to assume it will be so.
3. Building customer loyalty
So why should you consider having your own app rather than just use Amazon, Allegro or another B2C e-commerce platform? Well, first of all, you might not be a retailer. Second of all, what your own app allows you to do goes beyond simply selling products. It allows you to create more value for your customers and make them more aware of your brand.
There are lots of benefits and loyalty programs you can offer your users through a mobile app. This, for most millennials and gen Z customers, will be the only reward system they will show any interest in – they operate digitally, and they don’t want physical clutter in their wallets. Some of them don’t even carry wallets anymore. And why should they? They should have everything they need on their smartphone, and if you help them get closer to that reality, they will remember you and it will increase your chances of retaining them as loyal customers.
Starbucks might be a good example here. Their mobile application rewards loyal customers with points they receive each time they make a purchase in a Starbucks restaurant. So, if I have the Starbucks app, and I’m out and about – I won’t think twice about choosing between Starbucks or some other coffee shop. Starbucks will reward me for shopping there and though I may have left my wallet at home, I’m still getting my points. Additionally, I can pay for the purchase with the app as well. But don’t take my word for it – here are the results of 2020 surveys on loyalty programs conducted by Criteo and Rare:
- 52% of customers say that loyalty programs are one key reason they choose specific retailers or brands (Source)
- 41% of customers say loyalty programs make them feel like part of an exclusive group of valued customers (Source)
- 82% of Gen K, 85% of Millennials, 84% of Gen X and 80% of baby boomers say the loyalty program has enhanced their experience of the brand (Source)
- Citi (bank) reported 83% of consumers – and 94% of millennials – are more likely to participate in a loyalty program if it’s on mobile (Source)
4. Getting to know your customers better
Mobile apps allow you to find out more about your customers than was ever possible. And it’s not just about tracking them, though the information about their lifestyle and situations they make purchases in can be helpful too. Customers will gladly tell you what they like and dislike about your service. Giving them an option to interact with customer service or leave a review through the app lets you tap into their real needs and expectations. The power of such knowledge is hard to underestimate.
You’ll be able to immediately respond and by doing so, you’re ensuring your customers stay happy and satisfied with your service – keeping them loyal to your brand, and not leaving off to see what competitors are doing. Beyond that, if you ensure good customer experience through mobile app, you’re likely to turn your customers into promoters:
5. Adaptability to any business
Possibilities with apps are pretty much endless. It’s hard to imagine a business that wouldn’t benefit from offering some form of mobile service. The world is digitizing and the recent pandemic has only contributed to speeding this process up. Whatever industry you’re in, chances are you’ll benefit from going mobile:
- Reducing costs on tellers,
- Retaining customers,
- Increasing your outreach,
- Gathering more information about who your customers are and what they really need.
Let’s take a look at how mobile is affecting some of the industries globally (Source):
- Globally consumers accessed Finance apps 1 trillion times in 2019;
- Global shopping app download grew 20% from 2018 to 2019 to over 5.4 billion;
- Time spent on mobile apps grew globally, most noticeably in Indonesia, where the increase reached 70%;
- Mobile is central to growing retail business in 2020 – for both brick and mortar and e-commerce brands.
- In Q3 2019, Nike’s digital business grew 42% driven by mobile and app experiences
- 60% of all restaurant sales are off-premise (drive-thru, delivery and carry out);
- Sessions in Food and Drink apps grew 240% from 2017-2019
Health and Fitness
- Consumers spent 130% more in health and fitness apps in 2019 compared to 2017;
- Globally consumers spent $1.5B in health and fitness apps in 2019
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether you’ll benefit from adding a mobile app to your services. You know your business best. The purpose of this article is simply to show you some of the benefits and, hopefully, help you make the decision that is right for you. Mobile isn’t going anywhere and businesses need to adapt – one of those cliches that have become cliches for a reason.
We are yet to see how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect businesses globally, but chances are that people who got used to digital solutions will be reluctant to return to traditional ways of doing things.