It all started when we decided to install a new floor in our kitchen. For some strange reason I have been on the mailing list of Lumber Liquidators and I noticed in one of their email newsletters they have an app for iPhone/iPad to assist with choosing the right floor for your home. The app is nice it has information on the different types of hardwood floors, a flipbook of different floors in homes and a floor calculator to assist with how many boxes I would have to buy.
We ended up purchasing an eco friendly Bamboo engineered clic floor. After we choose the floor we decided to paint the cabinets and after we painted the cabinets my youngest daughter who just started college to study Architecture informed us that we need to paint the kitchen. Barely one week of college and my daughter thinks she’s a design star. As we were discussing colors I said “there’s probably an app that can assist us with choosing the right color.” My daughter logs onto the Apple App store and downloaded an app that we used to take a picture of our kitchen, choose a color and paint over the picture to see how the color will look. In less than 5 minutes we made a decision on the paint for the kitchen.
Those two apps delivered on their claim and allowed us to make well informed decisions and removed the stress of purchasing the wrong product with out having to leave the house or do massive web searching.
As smartphone and tablet use grow and the app market continues to expand with Apple claiming over 425,000 apps and Google with 250,000+ apps, now is the time to research how can an app assist your prospects with purchasing from you and assist your current customers with doing more business with you.
First lets talk about what apps are and are not. An app is software used on a smartphone or mobile device like Android, iPhone, BlackBerry or iPad, as in “mobile app” or “iphone app.” Then there’s “web app” or “online app” which is an abbreviation for “Web application” or “online application” — meaning software you access and use while online, via a browser, instead of software residing on your computer. Apps are not full software programs like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, etc. Apps are designed to fulfill specific functions on a mobile device or web browser.
Some of the benefits of having an app for your business are:
- An app can provide a differential advantage over your competition
- An App can create customer loyalty by being useful
- An app can improve the customer service experience through faster interaction.
- Apps extend your brand to smartphones & tablets
- Apps can create new revenue streams through advertising or premium services
- Apps can automate areas of your business reducing overhead expenses.
Some critical steps to take before you begin production of your app is to review the App Stores for similar apps like the one you’re planning. See how they work, what are their strengths and weaknesses and what would your app do differently that the existing apps don’t do. Ask your customers what they would like to see in an app form your company. Ask about what features are important to them and how do those features benefit them. Finally ask about what type of phone they use. You may not want to build your app for both the Apple and Android platform in the beginning so knowing what your customers use may assist you with building an app that the majority of your customers can use immediately.
If you decide that an app is for you then there is more work like choosing a developer to design and develop your app.
After you’ve chosen your development company and production has begun you should begin creating your marketing plan to get the word out about your app. Be sure to include press releases and social media in your marketing.
If all goes well you will have an app that your customers will enjoy and use often. The benefits are they will write good reviews about your app and recommend your app to their friends which increases your R.O.I.