If you run a business, then you need to consistently improve your operations and growth opportunities.
Implementing the right tools and strategies is crucial to staying ahead of the industry and preventing competitors from overtaking your market share.
However, this is easier said than done.
One of the ways to achieve innovation and set yourself apart from the rest in your market is to develop a mobile app, but there are costs and timeframes involved to consider.
This is especially true for service-based businesses, as your financial model works differently than that of a “hard goods” company, such as ecommerce clothing and other products.
So, in this article we will cover various questions and issues to consider before launching a mobile app.
Let’s jump in.
How Will it Increase Sales?
Sales are the lifeblood of any business, especially a service-based one, where you need employees or contractors on staff (as opposed to a more automated process with a physical product), resulting in higher overheads.
Developing an app requires upfront investment and therefore you need to consider how it can increase your revenue in concrete ways, such as:
- Allowing Customers to Purchase Easily – Some customers prefer to purchase directly through an app (assuming you have a good User Interface). That way, they don’t need to talk with a salesperson.
- Cutting Sales and Marketing Costs – Sales calls and paid marketing campaigns can impact your bottom line in a big way. If you can automate the sales process via an app, you can reinvest resources elsewhere.
- Decreasing Human Error – Entering customer or product information incorrectly can quickly become a huge cost for your company. Apps are more reliable, as they will only do what you program them to do.
You have to weigh those benefits against the potential costs before you decide to invest in an app.
Does it Solve Internal Needs?
What kind of internal needs does your company have? Are there certain inefficiencies that can be solved with the development of a mobile app?
For instance, if you want to automate CRM (Customer Relationship Management) input, you can save your agents’ time and therefore your payroll expenses.
The app will automatically upload purchase, demographic, and other info into a common database that keeps your team on the same page.
Does It Help With a Parent Company’s Needs or Acquisition?
Sometimes, a mobile app will help in more “indirect” ways. It might not immediately boost your sales or profits, but it could make your business more valuable to a parent company.
Furthermore, if your business model includes being bought out or acquired at some point in the future (in order to provide an exit for the founders and shareholders), an app will almost always boost your equity and value.
How Will Customers Respond to an App?
Consider the tech-savviness of your market.
Are they the type of customers who will happily adopt a mobile app? Are they already using a variety of apps to conduct business and purchase products on their smartphone?
If not, you might be fighting an uphill battle.
It is always easier and more profitable to deliver an app to a market that is already hungry for it, as opposed to spending the money to educate your market about why it is useful to them.
Will You Put the Data to Good Use?
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is neglecting to use their digital platforms to collect data on their customers. With a mobile app, this is especially true.
Do you already have a plan to collect user information and analyze it, as well as the in-house staff or third party consultants to put that data to use with their skill sets?
If not, you should create a plan for the data you will be able to collect. This includes:
- Purchasing Habits
- Click-Throughs and Heat Maps
- Repeat Buyers
- Demographics (Age, Income, Location, etc.)
With a plan to use this data and improve your marketing and sales funnels, you can optimize your business.
If not, it may be a waste of resources to invest in an app and not use all of its capacities.
Do You Primarily Conduct Business Face to Face?
How is your business typically conducted? There is a big difference between needing to sell your product face-to-face versus online or over the phone.
If you primarily sell face to face, you might find that you don’t have enough users to make the app worth it.
However, if you are able to adapt your selling processes to video calls or other online methods, then there are many benefits to building a mobile app.
You can reach customers more easily, send them text messages, and make the user experience more friendly which will build the trust that your customers have for your brand.
Do You Have the Resources to Support an App?
Once an app is developed, your job is not finished and neither is your investment. Even the most well-known apps in the world have bugs in them that need to be fixed.
Otherwise, it can put your business in a bad light due to poor customer experiences and frustrations.
So one of the main questions you must ask yourself is if you have the infrastructure, budget, and other resources to support an app (not just right now, but also going forward).
You will need to maintain a team of programmers to maintain the app and fix any bugs that might show up. If you don’t have the budget currently, it’s best to wait until you do.
As the world continues to evolve and new technologies emerge, your business needs to be on the cutting edge in order to avoid falling behind.
If you don’t, you could see customers jumping ship to other businesses that you’re competing with.
A mobile app is an excellent choice for many companies, even service businesses. However, whether or not it is a smart idea for you depends on your specific circumstances, market, and business plan.
Therefore, consider the key points above as they relate to your business operations and KPIs.
There is a good chance that developing a mobile app can allow you to serve your customers at a higher level, collect better data, and improve your bottom line going forward.
Ashley Wilson is a content creator, writing about business and tech. She has been known to reference movies in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.