“Get on mobile.” It’s been the mantra of 2013. Find some way to take your business not just online, but into the realm of smartphones. And, considering that smartphones account for more than 50% of the cell phone market, it’s not a bad idea.
But, how do you get on mobile?
A lot of companies are flocking to developing a mobile app. Here are some things you should know before you jump on that bandwagon:
1. Figure out what kind of app is successful
Go into the app store of your nearest mobile device and look up what is selling or being downloaded right now. Here’s the thing: none of them will have anything in common. That’s okay. This first tip was to make sure you were paying attention.
There’s no wrong way to make an app. You can’t predict what will be successful.
For some of you, that’s encouraging. For others, daunting. So, let’s look at this a different way. Try to find the apps for companies similar to yours. What are customers saying? How are they rating them? What are they asking for? Your market research is already right in front of you on your phone.
2. It isn’t magic.
There are plenty of ways to make your business both searchable and mobile friendly. An app isn’t a magical solution that will suddenly make you successful. Be aware of that. Can you name apps that everyone has hands down heard of? There’s probably only one: Angry Birds. If you focus on giving your customers a serviceable app that will get them what they want, when they want it, you’ve won. The rest is all extra.
3. It takes time
Once you decide to develop an app, it takes time to make it. There’s beta-testing involved. There’s different stages of development. There are lots of different design aspects. On top of that, apps need to be watched and updated as new operating systems, tablets, and phones become available. The thing about apps is that they are always a work in progress. If you don’t offer updates, new features, and bug fixes, people are going to delete it.
4. You don’t necessarily need one.
Really think about whether or not you need an app before you decide to develop one. I mean, really think about it. What can an app offer you that you don’t already have available somewhere online? Will this really give you the edge over the competition that you need? Does it keep you in line with your competition?
Given that apps are time consuming and sometimes expensive, try to take a look at your projected ROI for an app. If you don’t think it will make that much of a difference, think about finding other apps that already exist that you might be able to hitch a ride on (like Yelp or Foursquare, for brick-and-mortars).
If you think you’re late to the app game, you’re wrong. The mobile platform is ever evolving and there is always room for more apps. However, don’t rush in. Make sure you take time to look at your business and decide if an app is best for you.
Have you developed a mobile app for your business? What do you wish you had known going in? Share in the comments below!
As smartphones and tablets become more and more prevalent in the market place, mobile payment methods are a more viable solution for small businesses and entrepreneurs to manage their money.
Square, a dongle based credit card swiper for the iPhone, was an advancement in technology that demonstrated the potential the smartphone had for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Since it’s introduction, some businesses have been able to get rid of cash registers entirely and shift their entire platform to tablets and mobile phones. Square is trying to remain on the cutting edge by getting rid of the hardware and enabling geofencing, making payment possible by proximity over rather than actual card swiping.
While security issues are still being sorted out, Square has remained on the cutting edge of mobile payment technology. Behind them, PayPal is attempting to pick up the slack and offer new ways to pay by phone, as well. PayPal here again offers a physical device to swipe the card with, but doesn’t have a dedicated app for iPhone or iPad.
Intuit GoPayment offers a similar device as Square. It plugs into your phone and requires swiping the card. One major benefit of using the Intuit method is that the transaction syncs automatically with your Quickbooks software.
Many different companies are offering ways to turn your mobile device into a cash register. Is the mobile wallet going to be the new trend? Several credit cards, banks, and cellular carriers got together to form Isis, a place where standards could be set for mobile payments.
The biggest concern that remains is security. All the information is flying through the air. How can we be sure no one will pick it up? Some researchers are even devoting their time to punching holes in any wall that Square builds.
While mobile payments are a great way to take your business with you anywhere, you need to make sure you are up to date on security issues. You need to protect yourself and your customers before going mobile.
What are some of your concerns? What would keep you from or encourage you into using mobile payment?