How Mobile Apps Can Help Your Business: Part 1

Mobile Apps for your Business brought to you by Steve Renner

Part One: What Not to Do

If you’re not using mobile apps to boost your business, you could be missing out. While mobile still accounts for a comparatively small percentage of overall retail sales, 79% of global retailers are hopping on the mcommerce bandwagon. And because mobile apps and other multichannel (or omnichannel) retailing methods are such an integral part of any innovative business, that number will continue to grow.

But first, let’s talk about the potential pitfalls and mistakes when considering the design, launch and investment of your company’s mobile app.

There…Might Be an App for That

There are about 1.6 million mobile apps on the market right now. By the time you finish reading this sentence, that number will probably climb. This year, 91% of retailers offer customers the option to conduct business over multiple channels and devices. That’s up 84% from last year. That’s a lot.

So, one mistake you can make is blindly assuming there’s a customer demand for your mobile app. That is, designing and creating an app based on an unresearched notion. To break into the mcommerce market and get noticed will take research, testing, and validation.

If you have an idea for an app, put the prototype to action. Focus group the idea, crowdsource it. That way, you’ll be able to gauge how many people want the app, thereby building a potential customer base right off the bat.

Keep It Really, Really Simple (and Pretty)

Invest the time, energy, and money needed to make the initial wireframe of your app as simple for your customers to use as possible. This is very important. To do that, the core concept of your app must be obvious and whittled down, and the intended core value offered must be clear.

Simplicity is the proverbial foundation upon which your mobile app is built. Once that foundation is in place, you can get to work on the fun stuff: design. Think creative, bold. Take existing apps that speak to you, and learn from them. What makes effective apps effective? How can you spin those qualities to fit your company’s tone and aesthetic?

The psychological effects of color aside (but not completely, as these effects should be taken into consideration), the design and graphics of your app need to be streamlined, original, and attractive. Listen to the nature of your app: It’ll tell you how it wants to be visually perceived.

Combine looks with usability, and you’ve got yourself a solid mobile app.

Start Small before Going Big

You’re not going to design and build the world’s greatest mobile app right out of the gate. Just look at how many incarnations Facebook has gone through since its inception back in 2004 (remember, it was originally called “Thefacebook”). The trick here is to unleash your product on a small local market, and, given that feedback, redesigning the app accordingly. Through trial and error on a smaller scale, you’ll be able to perfect your product, readying it for a larger market (and more effective customer acquisition).

Don’t Give Up

The mcommerce landscape is a crowded (and daunting) one. There’s a lot of competition out there. But if your business simply isn’t gaining traction, try a different approach. When you launch your app, lock down a trial-and-error timeframe. Six months? A year? Take this time to measure sales and analytics. This will allow you to move forward, or start fresh.
But remember: An idea is only as good as its execution.
Next time, we’ll get down the good stuff: How Mobile Apps Can Help Your Business. See you then!