The smartphone has revolutionized the way consumers engage with their digital world—and it’s quickly transforming their shopping habits, as well.
According to Nielsen, consumers are now spending more time online via mobile devices than on desktops or laptops. Also, a survey by IDC found that 70 percent of smartphone owners plan to use their devices for shopping this year.
What do these trends mean for small businesses? First of all, they indicate massive growth potential for those companies with a strong mobile presence—but they also pose an increased risk for those businesses who fail to adapt and plan for the mobile age.
In order to thrive in today’s world, business owners need to examine how they engage the growing number of mobile consumers. While just a few years ago the limited resources of many small and midsize businesses made it difficult for them to publish high-quality mobile apps, today even the smallest business can successfully create and launch a professional-grade app.
Here are four ways a mobile app can transform your small business:
- Lifestyle – According to a study by Gartner, consumers will download 268 billion apps by 2017. The reason for such a gargantuan number of downloads is simple: Mobile apps benefit the publisher and user alike. Having a mobile app allows a business to fit more seamlessly into its customers’ lifestyle, as more users turn to their smartphones to decide where to go for dinner or which photographer to check out for a company event. The upshot for you? With a great, feature-filled app—particularly one that integrates updates via push notifications and social media pages—you can keep your brand in your customers pocket and keep them engaged 24/7.
- Mobile Shopping – Mobile shopping is a luxury that consumers have grown to expect from businesses, and an app places that ease and convenience in the customers hand… anytime, anywhere. Enable customers to browse and purchase goods and services directly from their mobile device within your app. By making it easier and more engaging for your customers to shop, discover and order, your mobile app can be a highway to increased sales and customer loyalty.
- Loyalty Rewards – While the concept of physical loyalty punch cards may seem outdated in our digital era, many customers still seek rewards for their continued loyalty. Rather than relying on the classic hole-puncher, signature or stamp at the check out counter, a mobile app offers your business a fun and contemporary way to promote customer loyalty. Just like its paper ancestors, the mobile loyalty card has great potential to encourage customers to come back time after time.
- Savings – eMarketer research finds that 55% of adult U.S. Internet users will redeem digital coupons or codes via a mobile device at least once in 2014. As consumers seek deals and special promotions, a mobile app allows you to offer them more targeted incentives. Coupons and other promotions offered through an app can also be tracked and analyzed with online tools. Additionally, with the analytics capabilities that larger companies have used for years, small businesses can now see which offers are resonating with your audience—helping you make more informed decisions about upcoming promotions and calculate the return on investment (ROI) from your mobile offers.
The world of mobile is constantly changing, and the features that are cutting-edge today may be old news next year. But given the impact of the mobile revolution—and the incredible spread of mobile technology—it’s hard to imagine a return to the ways people did business even a few years ago. Whatever your business does, makes, or says, chances are that you can learn a thing or two from the small businesses that are achieving unprecedented levels of user engagement via mobile apps.