Beginner’s guide to developing a business app

Recognise the need to create an app for your business, but unfamiliar with how it all works? My Business asks a successful app founder for his tips on where to start.

According to entrepreneur and founder of hospitality payments and deals app Clipp, Greg Taylor, determining the use for an app is the easy part. The challenge is developing its functionality, marketing its value and monetising it.

Here are Greg’s tips for creating a successful app as part of your business service offering.

Create an app that adds value

“It just comes down to having a good idea that solves a problem that you believe in, and that's really been the principle that has helped me through the process over the years,” explains Greg.Man using a smartphone

“When we started Clipp, for example, we had no experience in hospitality whatsover, so had never worked in a pub or a bar or a restaurant, but saw the problem [of people not having cash to pay for their drinks].”

The flip side though, as Greg points out, is that a good idea is not enough to create and sustain value for your users and customers.

“People will not as happily download an app now, but they will more happily delete an app,” he says.

“Unless an app is generally preferred or it's gaining very, very quick momentum, then getting someone to the app store to download it is a very, very hard thing to do.

“So making sure the value proposition of what you do is first and foremost, so that when people do hear or see about the app, they understand within the first five seconds what that app will do and how it will benefit them.”

Keep up to date with technology

According to Greg, the ever-changing nature of technology is one of the constant “battles” his business faces.

“For example, we are working on an integration now with Apple Pay and Android Pay, and that will dramatically change the way payments are done, because it will mean people don't need to add a credit card to the app when they sign up,” he says.

“So they will obviously create one credit card into their Apple wallet, and then they can actually link that payment source within Clipp. It will be a really big change. I think one of the things we will see is conversion rates, I would estimate, triple for the amount of people that don't have that concern of putting their credit card into the app; I think that will be one of the big changes that we will see in the near future.”

Troubleshooting challenges

Greg points out that operating a business app comes with its own distinct set of challenges.

“The biggest one by far is security,” he says.

“Cutting corners on security is really something that you can't do. We deal with money and we deal with a lot of money, in terms of people spending over $100 on a transaction, so it's a significant amount of money, and if you cut corners on that or you're not secure in the way that the credit cards are added or the payment gateway that you're using and you have an issue with security, then it's very, very hard to earn that trust back.”

Another common problem with app development, according to Greg, is associated with the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).

“It's very easy in the early stages to look at the app as you're going through it and you understand it, but it's very important to step back from that and give the app to someone who has never used it, never seen it before, and just watch them go through it,” explains Greg.

“That's a really important process to do, because it's very easy to get close to the app – you understand it, but someone else may not.”

How to monetise an app

“I think that’s one of the things that people get caught up with,” Greg says when asked about the degree of difficulty involved in monetising an app.

“Unless there is a very clear way that you're going to make money, then there's very few apps that make lots of money by purely the 'eyeball concept', and the eyeball concept is that there are just so many eyeballs looking at this thing (i.e. Instagram, What'sApp and things like that) that someone like Facebook will come along and buy them.”

As Greg suggests, there are only a handful of those apps and businesses worldwide, and he estimates that there are 1,000 failed apps for every one that has achieved success in the marketplace.

His advice for overcoming this fate?

“I think working out before concept stage how you actually are going to make money is absolutely crucial, because that also assists in generating money down the path later on.”

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