When I worked retail as a university student, one thing we constantly found ourselves saying to customers was “you can wear it with jeans!” This turned into a running joke because we didn’t realize how often we said it and how often it worked. Granted, this was between 2003 and 2008 so it really was the jeans-with-everything hay day. Today, the equivalent of ‘you can wear jeans with it’ is ‘there’s an app for that!’ which has become so mainstream it’s used as a bad joke on TV.
I laughed along with ‘there’s an app for that,’ but upon further inspection, I would have to strongly disagree. Now that I’m aware of it, I notice stores and businesses that desperately need an app but don’t have one. It’s like when you buy a certain car, then you suddenly see it everywhere because now you’re paying attention. Almost everyday I find myself annoyed that in soon-to-be 2016, there are SO many businesses that haven’t taken an app into consideration. Don’t get me started on companies like a certain movie chain *cough cough* that has a rage inducingly terrible app that makes me want to burn it to the ground every time I use it. I have never had a positive experience using their app and that’s a giant fail on their end because I cringe when I open it. Since I need the internet like I need a heartbeat and I love complaining to corporations, I have deemed myself the unofficial crusader for mobile apps. Be scared.
You Can Sit With Us
If you own a business, regardless of size, your customers expect to access your products/services every minute of the day. I don’t care if you sell dry pasta or multi million dollar cloud computing, people must be able to access information about you at all times. My insurance company’s website does maintenance all night every night so I am unable to submit my claims anytime passed 6pm PST. I have probably attempted to log in and failed about 20 times because I keep forgetting that their website is from 1999 and has zero functionality. Does my head explode every single time I attempt to log in and fail? You bet it does. Since most people work a 9-5 day, by the time they get home, they won’t be able to submit their claims. So their ‘client portal’ website is not only useless, but generating negative feelings from members. In 2016, this is business suicide.
A mobile app can go a long ways toward generating more opportunities from clients (assuming your app works well). An app is an awesome way to provide value to clients and make their lives easier. For example, the Starbucks app makes my life easier because I don’t need to carry cash, I get loyalty points and notifications of deals and promos. Starbucks has given me every reason to continue using their app because it provides value each time I use it. Every time I flip through my phone I see the Starbucks app. Having your app in front of your clients’ face every single day when they flip through their smartphone is marketing most business couldn’t afford. For most people their smartphone is the first and last thing they see everyday. Wouldn’t you want your mobile app to be part of that?
Tomorrow Never Dies (So you’d better be ready for it)
Do you remember when you got your first website? If you’re a small business owner you probably didn’t think you needed a website but got talked into it (“I sell shoes, why do I need a website?”). Today having a website a no brainer and if someone doesn’t have one, people look at you like you’re insane. Well friends, an app is the new website. An app is the website of the 21st century because it has more functionality and it supports your specific business infrastructure. Your website was the workhorse of the 20th century and served you very well, but now it’s time to take the next leap into mobile apps.
Mobile apps have more functionality than websites because they have useful things like push notifications, cameras and geolocation services etc built in. An app will support your business tomorrow and next week while your website serves your clients today. Back in 2011 most people were wondering what on earth Starbucks was doing getting a mobile app. Now we can see their plan put them ahead of the game and proved their instincts were correct. Mobile usage continues to climb and has since overtaken desktop, so arguments from companies about it being a fad are clearly wrong. It may seem like only enterprise or retail companies need a mobile app but that’s not true anymore. It’s almost 2016 and mobile is mandatory.
Adapt or Die
For example, if I were in the market for yoga pants, would I buy from a store with an outdated website and unchanged product offerings? Doubtful. Instead I would consider a company like Lululemon (Woo! Vancouver!) because they were first to market and they heavily invest in new fabrics and technology to continuously improve their products. They even have a mobile app which shows me, the potential customer, that Lululemon is serious about staying ahead of their competition and that they want to optimize the customer experience. Showing clients that you’re investing in your business, staying on top of the market and ahead of the curve is a huge differentiator.
As a consumer, I appreciate a company that takes my buying habits and desires into consideration and that will make me more loyal in the long run (my ultimate consumer loyalty is to J Crew because of their amazing customer service). If I had a choice, I would never give my insurance company a dime of my money and I will remember how much I despise them forever. Every time I visit their website they are pushing me closer and closer to their competitors.
At first glance it would seem mobile apps are taking over the world but after careful, empirical research (ha!) conducted by me, I can assure you this is false. Apps are a glorious, interactive technology that provides value to the user. When built correctly, a mobile app will make your business and customer experience more efficient and streamlined which will build loyalty and allow more client touch points. With an app you have a direct line of communication with your clients via push notifications and updates that they see everyday on their smartphone. Since no one can put their phone down, your app will be visible all day everyday. People are more tech savvy than ever before so your business must be visible and accessible 24 hours a day. I want the ability to check out your products at 4am if that’s when I decide to look at your menu or yoga pants. By allowing me the freedom to browse your products or services on my schedule, you’ll generate more opportunities and stay ahead of your competition. A website served you well for over a decade, now it’s time to reinvest in your business by taking the leap to a mobile app (don’t worry, we’ll catch you).
Why would your clients spend their time and money on your business if you don’t?
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