If you were starting a business 10 years ago, you could get away with not having a website. That's not true anymore. The internet is how your customers find you, buy your products and services, and get in touch. It allows you to have customers from around the world and just around the corner.
We are going through a similar technology shift today. Everyone has a smartphone. They use it to socialize, do work, play games, research, get directions, buy products, and so much more. People love their smartphones. They're more personal than the personal computer. They go everywhere their owner does and are used 100s of times a day. The goal for businesses and organizations is to be just one or a few of those times. You want to be part of that personal and trusted relationship. Starting a business today, you need to have some kind of presence on your customer's smartphones. An app is the best way to achieve this.
Mobile apps allow businesses to have a personal relationship with their customers and keep them just a touch away. They are even better than a mobile-optimized website, which many still rely on. App users spend 20-50% more than mobile web users and have conversion rates that are 3-5 times higher. Why? Mobile apps can keep your customers logged in and they can view your products with a simple tap. They don't have to search for your site in their web browser and then log in on a small screen. On top of this mobile websites load slower, because they have to load all the graphics and images on the fly, while an app has the majority of them saved and only grabs the necessary data. A better customer experience and lower friction to making a purchase, sounds like a win-win to me.
The most amazing quality that apps have, is that you don't have to wait for your customers to come to you. You can reach out to them. With push notifications and social features, apps can become a two-way street that allows you to connect with customers and get feedback. A simple push notification on the day of a sale or promotion increases foot traffic 150-300%. For more service oriented businesses, you can utilize apps to setup appointments, schedule pickups/deliveries, and manage other customer support features. As an example, a local barber shop could schedule appointments, check in customers automatically when they arrive, allow them to pre-select a few hairstyles they like or save their go-to look, rate their barber, and accept payment. No paper work and an end-to-end system that makes business more enjoyable for everyone involved.
For years businesses have used rewards programs to honor their most loyal customers and nudge regular customers into the "loyal" category. No one wants to carry around a wallet full of rewards cards or remember their reward number. It's simpler to just have an app that automatically knows when they are at your business or when they make a purchase and put that towards their rewards. No one has to remember, the app just knows, and can let you and your customers know when the rewards kick in.
If you want to build a relationship with your customers and future-proof your business, then you need to look into getting a mobile app. The benefits overshadow the cost. Soon it will seem silly launching a business without an app to back it up. Your customers are going mobile. Are you?
Data from GPShopper - app developer of Best Buy, Shoe Carnival, and more