To App Or Not To App? The Question All Small Businesses Face

Here at SmallBizTechnology, we’ve covered apps to death! I’ve told you some reasons why you should create an app. Nikola has told you not to give up on creating apps, and has also contributed some solutions you could use to create them in addition to these. But what we haven’t really told you is what kind of app you should develop.

You see, today’s app market is completely saturated. A saturated market is always highly competitive, meaning that customers are very distracted. To succeed in a saturated market, you need to capture the attention of your customers.

There are a lot of apps out there (in the order of over a hundred thousand), but many of them provide very little use for their users. Here’s where you can get an edge. If you develop an app that somehow provides plenty of use to a prospective customer, your conversion rates will be very high and your return on investment (ROI) will meet very impressive milestones. But what makes an app useful? And should you even build an app?

I’m of the opinion that if you own a small business, there’s a successful app model out there for your particular sector. It’s inevitable. If your business provides a useful service, you can make an equally useful app for customers. I’m now going to give you a few examples of how certain businesses can make a useful app:

  • Restaurants – I consider this one of the easiest types of businesses to come up with app ideas for. You can create an app with an interface that shows customers what your “dish of the day” is and any special promotions you’re having. With location-based features, you can tell your customers how to get to your restaurant from their current location. Added to that, you can also introduce the ability for customers to reserve a seat from the app. To prevent people from abusing the system, their mobile device can only reserve a table for a maximum of five patrons. They can schedule their reservations for a certain hour. Half an hour after the reserved time, the reservation can be automatically canceled.
  • Retail – If you have an online store, put it in an app. Allow customers to make mobile purchases of items through the interface. Don’t forget to put your best foot forward and design the app in a way that shows your most unbeatable promotions! Other than this, there’s really not a lot to do with mobile apps. The idea is to get something similar to the Amazon Android app. Once you get that, you’ll have customers frantically opening their wallets in your face, saying, “Take my money!”
  • Hospitality – Besides the reservation system in the restaurant model described earlier, there are a lot of things you can do with your resort, hotel, motel, or inn. For example, once the guest has checked in, the app should register that and open new options to the guest (i.e. pushing a button for room service). The app should also welcome the guest and provide him/her with phone numbers for local food delivery services (in case he/she’s in the mood for pizza or Chinese cuisine). This is just one more step to reaching a five-star rating.

It’s all a question of how much you are willing to do. These kinds of apps are very difficult to create and require a premium investment. Any lucid person would tell you to ponder a little more before diving into such a project. But if you’re serious about providing the best services possible for your customers, you’re eventually going to have to get around to doing this. A question pops up: “To app or not to app? That is the question.” Here is the answer: You will have to create an app eventually. The real question is “When?” It’s up to you. Every business has its boom and bust cycle, and apps factor into this.

However, as you might have gathered, creating an app is an “all or nothing” deal. When the average smartphone user has 40 or more apps installed, you have to push ahead and make your app one of the most noticeable among those 40.

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Miguel Leiva-Gomez is the owner of The Tech Guy, a blog that presents futuristic and current news about technology with a light touch of humor, catering to the average consumer and prospective investor. Miguel has been working with computers and gadgets for more than a decade, working together with people to help them solve their problems and breaking down complex concepts into simple bite-sized pieces that the average Joe can chew.

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