If we look back to twenty-five years ago, very few small businesses had an online presence. Sure, you might have seen an outlier New Jersey restaurant or barber shop with a website and more still on listings pages. But the rise of social media, and then later, affordable website builders in the 21st century meant that having an online presence was the norm. Indeed, it became a necessity. The advent of Google as a ubiquitous tool of discovery ensured that having a listing online was essential to survival. Sure, a taco truck might get by just fine without a website or dedicated Facebook page, but any business that requires bookings, like a restaurant, must be discoverable online.
For some businesses, the next step is launching an app. The idea of a smartphone app is no longer in the purview of complex technology products only. The Apple App Store has close to two million apps today. These can range from high-quality gaming apps like McLuck to local libraries serving the community, breaking news apps to social media. But increasingly, small businesses are launching customized apps to help them navigate the digital world. So, whether you are a nail salon in Hoboken, a plumber in Newark, or a physiotherapist in Trenton, here are five reasons why launching an app to complement your business can be a good idea:
1. Apps Create a Business Ecosystem
The broadest takeaway is that app creates a small ecosystem for your business. It could, for example, allow your customers to book appointments, say for a haircut, without having to phone the store. While that can be done on a website or third-party booking system, having the app on their smartphone makes it all the better for that connection. It stops the customer from looking elsewhere, making it more convenient for them and more efficient for your business.
2. Easier Communication with Customers and Clients
One of the most underrated marketing tools in technology is the push notification, i.e., the smartphone messaging system that allows apps to communicate with users. While we might think about receiving a message from the ESPN app updating us on the Jets score, it can be used by businesses for practical reasons – appointment reminders, confirmations of bookings, promotional advertisements, and so on. Being able to send someone out a booking reminder the day before they come to your restaurant is a blessing, and customers will no doubt appreciate it.
3. An Affordable Way to Build a Brand
Having an app is no longer an expensive outlay. Just as there are cheap website builders that can build you a website for a few bucks a month, the cost of a ready-made app isn’t what it used to be. A quality app with multiple features could cost as little as $2500, with a bit set aside for hosting. But it becomes a powerful tool for brand-building. Businesses with apps tend to be better at customer retention, regardless of the industry.
4. A Chance for Repeat Customers
Businesses with apps tend to be better at customer retention, regardless of the industry. Moreover, it allows you to find clever ways to get repeat business. Consider having a coffee shop where the app allows the customer to receive the 10th cup free, a loyalty point system for people who regularly visit your salon, or being able to send out a digital coupon to someone who hasn’t visited your restaurant in a while. There are numerous different ways to ensure your customer returns, and the app allows for a direct means of enticing them back.
5. Stand Out from Your Rivals
Finally, an app fosters a sense of trust. People are often wary of visiting places they haven’t tried before, and they may judge a business with only a listing on Facebook. An app conveys competence and longevity, as well as a confidence that the brand is firmly established. Above all, it can help you stand out from your rivals.