SMEs can use smartphones to create an effective strategy for communicating to customers and keeping them loyal to the business.
A recent survey of Australians' mobile usage habits by Deloitte said that innovations which enabled ‘fast lane-ing’, or a superior customer experience, are the key to reinventing the retail experience.
While the trends are there, the key is to first have effective and suitable technology for your customers to access.
If your business is exploring an app or engaging in mobile app technology, I would offer the following tips to ensure you are delivering something of value to your customers:
Know your customers
Before hitting the design phase, know who you are creating an app for and who your target audience is.
Are you making an app for existing customers, new customers or is it an app that merely provides after-care information for your clients? Knowing this before you enter meetings with engineers and designers will save you a lot of time and worry once you commence development.
Keep it simple
While it can be tempting to add every bell and whistle, ultimately what your user wants is something that works.
Making an app that looks good is important, but what use is it if the user experience is clunky, cumbersome or full of glitches?
Build an app that is intuitive and be sure to test the user experience extensively across multiple target user groups. The time you invest in doing this will be reflected in user pick-up once your app is released.
If your business is retail or commerce-focused, consider integrating a mobile payment option or, at the very least, have the technology available to roll this out in the near future.
While a proportion of Australian mobile consumers are happy using their smartphones in the same way they use a bank or credit card, it is still a payment option that is ‘finding its feet’ in the Australian commercial landscape.
Ensure your mobile payment option promotes security and is easy for customers to use.
Marketing your app
As part of your app development, you should ensure you have a marketing strategy in place to help promote the app once it is launched to the marketplace.
Consider PR, paid search marketing, influencer trials, paid user acquisition and social media marketing.
Know what your key messages are around your app, i.e. what solution are you providing for customers?
Allow for growth
Save yourself a lot of headaches early on by capacity planning for future growth and ensure your app frameworks and technology are scalable.
Have the main platforms (Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems) on your roadmap from the get go.
Radinck van Vollenhoven is the Australian and New Zealand managing director of Stocard, a business that has developed an app which puts users’ loyalty cards into one area.