Mobile applications for business: the principles and nuances of development
What is better: to try to create a mobile app for business on your own or turn to a professional web studio? Each option is good in its own way, depending on the goal set and the future use of the product.
From the article you will learn:
- The benefits of mobile apps
- How to develop a mobile app
- Why it is worth ordering a product from a web studio
- When it is possible to make a DIY app
- List of Best phone tracker apps without permission
- Tools for mobile app development
- How a mobile app accelerated the work of staff and the company
To optimize the bike park, the next goal was to have bikes available to customers and free space at the stations. The more bikes, the more people will be able to rent them. The more stations and spaces available, the easier and faster it is for a customer to rent a bike. You don’t have to wait for a spot to become available, and you don’t have to look for a free station.
The challenge was solved by optimizing the logistics of the vehicles and calculating the optimal ratio of bikes to available space at the stations. The main trump card was the rational use of the expedition drivers’ working time, who started to use a special application. What this program is and how it works, you will learn at the end of the article. Now we return to the main topic.
What mobile apps are available
Today about 85% of users prefer mobile apps to websites. You can try to create one for free as a test version to evaluate the productivity or contact qualified developers to get an effective tool for interacting with your audience through tablets and smartphones. A mobile app is a direct channel of communication with a loyal consumer. To maintain this connection and retain customers, all you need to do is maintain the right functionality and provide people with relevant material.
Conventionally, mobile apps for business fall into two categories:
- Meet the internal needs of the company.
- Resolve business objectives: increase sales and loyalty, help achieve marketing goals, and participate in branding
The first group is often used for automation and optimization of activities, increase of efficiency (shopping centers, hotels, restaurants):
- Sharing working documents
- Internal communications (trackers, messengers)
- Corporate social networks
- Management of tasks and projects.
The second group can be divided into two subgroups:
- Loyalty programs. Applications usually replace loyalty cards in supermarkets and similar organizations.
- Add-ons to a company’s online services: online store, catalogs, mobile storefront, ticketing, delivery tracking, online banking.
Benefits of a mobile app for business
Of course, mobile applications are not needed for everyone, but in certain niches they will be useful and will help businesses to get more customers, increase loyalty and sales.
Such areas include:
- Vehicles: dealer networks, car washes, rentals
- Tourism: interactive maps, search and book rooms and tickets, choose a vacation spot
- Catering: menu browsing, home delivery, promotions
- Beauty Industry: information on services, interactive price list, appointment with the specialist
- Medicine: view services and prices, make doctor’s appointments and house calls
- Fitness centers: appointment, price lists, list of services, reviews
- Stores and delivery services: catalogs, prices, checkout
All kinds of recreation and services.
Before you start developing a mobile app, it’s important to analyze its profitability and compare it to your expectations.
Try to answer the questions as precisely and concisely as possible:
What exactly will the app serve? Why does the business need it?
Will customers be interested in the mobile app? Will they use it? Here you should carefully analyze the target audience and identify who your services are aimed at, and who the majority of them are interested in them.
Will you be able to recoup the cost of the product?
Developing and launching an application is not enough for business development and success. It is important to constantly promote and improve it, to keep the consumer’s interest, which also requires money.
How a mobile app for business is useful:
- Increases sales by attracting and retaining target consumers. Various loyalty programs, push notifications about promotions and discounts motivate customers to buy goods and services. This is the most accessible advertising. People always have their smartphones with them. They don’t need to go to the website or go to the store to see current discounts. It’s enough to hear the distinctive sound of a message from your company.
- Helps to fend off the competition. Competition in the business app environment is negligible. Most use websites, communities, newsletters, and various advertising. Few can boast of having a product on Google Play and the App Store. In addition, you can offer people bonuses for installation. For example, a lifetime discount on products or free coffee in partner establishments in exchange for showing the application on your phone.
- Increases loyalty. Special gift and bonus programs encourage repeat sales and increased sales. For example, a restaurant might offer every fifth cup of coffee or every tenth meal for free. The app will keep count of visits, and the person will want to come to the establishment again and again to get the coveted gift. Also, the program in the smartphone frees up space in the wallet from cards.
- Builds a positive brand image and customer trust with push notifications. An interested user, after receiving a link to seasonal clothing with a good discount, will click on it and be more likely to move on through the catalog. When customers get used to receiving useful and relevant content, they start to expect it and sympathize with the company more and more. A related powerful tool is geolocation. You can, for example, highlight a space around a restaurant and suggest that people who get in that area visit the establishment.
- Linking the site to the app. This contributes to the success of the business. When a user finds the site through a search and goes to the app, the company begins a closer and more personalized relationship with them. For the business owner, this is a double benefit.
- The mobile app user accesses products faster and interacts more closely with the store anywhere, anytime. At the same time, it increases the frequency of purchases and ensures full awareness of bargain offers and closed sales. For example, AliExpress gives a special discount if the customer orders a product in the program from a smartphone.
Stages of mobile app creation
1. Analysis of the target market.
Here the owner determines for himself why he needs the app for business, what purposes it will serve, and how it will be used in interaction with consumers.
The first thing to do is to decide on the following points:
- The primary purpose of developing and launching a mobile business app
- Whether or not sales are planned with the help of the program
- Who is the target audience for the product or service at the moment and who may become that audience in the future
- Whether there is competition in the area for which the app is being created, and how serious it is
- How much money will be needed to develop and promote the program
2. Preparation of the terms of reference
A customer and a developer agree on all of the details concerning the future product. Prototyping is performed and user profiles are prepared for the evaluation of the finished program. Tasks for the designer are set, profitability is evaluated. This stage precedes the start of development. To create the program that the customer wants, all the nuances are studied, and the final decision is made.
Below we will return to this stage and consider it by example.
3. Preliminary cost estimate
The cost is influenced by many factors: the complexity of the future application, the time spent, the scope and reputation of the agency, the type and number of working platforms, further support and much more.
Important! The final price does not necessarily have to coincide with preliminary calculations. In the end, the cost may be higher or lower than the estimated amount. Possible adjustments and human factor in the process – that’s natural. However, with competent and meticulous calculation the error, if any, will be negligible.
4. Designing a prototype
A program model may be interactive or static. At this stage, the analyst thinks through the logic of the app’s functioning and the user’s role in it, taking into account the specifics of the target audience and the goals set for the product. After the user has made any changes, if required, and coordinated the prototype, the project is sent to a designer.
5. First release
A pilot project of a mobile application is released. If the program is complicated, it is reasonable to launch MVP first – the minimum viable version – to check how users react. If necessary, an API service is created for data exchange between the program and the server.
It is performed on simulators or on real devices. At this stage it is important to make sure that the product corresponds to the desired model and works correctly with the corresponding hardware and software platform.
7. User access
To publish the program for sale, the owner needs to create accounts in the App Store and Google Play Market. Registration fees are required everywhere: $25 in Google Play and $99 in the App Store. And the App Store requires payment every year.
You can try to create an application yourself, or order it from a web studio or a freelancer. In the latter case, it is possible to save up to 40% and even more compared to the agency, but the probability that you will get exactly what you need is significantly reduced. In addition, freelancers who strictly meet deadlines and requirements are rare. Technical support and product development after the development is usually out of the question.
The work of a specialized and professional team will not be cheap, but the result will be worth it. You will get an application, which will meet all the requirements and fulfill the set tasks. Once created, the studio will be able to provide full-fledged support for the project and facilitate its development to increase sales and business profitability.
What is important to consider when creating a mobile app for business:
- The cost of developing mobile apps for businesses is much higher compared to creating a website or web app. It’s important to calculate the return on your product so you’re not left at a huge disadvantage.
- A business app is an investment aimed at the future. The mobile market is rapidly evolving, and it is important to keep up with it to hold your position.
On average, there are about 25 apps installed on each mobile device. Approximately one third are messengers, social networks and email services. The rest are various programs, including yours, games, and competitors’ apps. People don’t fill their phone memory with useless material. The product has to be of high quality and useful in order to win the consumer’s trust and its place in the memory of the device.
Customers love free programs. Consequently, such applications should pay off through advertising. Conclusion: you can invest in the design and development of useful free applications for business, which will contain appropriate advertising. For example, a drinking water delivery service can make a calculator to determine the water balance in the body, and a children’s goods store can create an app with useful tips for parents or educational games.
Self-developing a business app
When is it worth paying a developer for an app, and when is it worth doing it yourself with off-the-shelf solutions? If you don’t have money, but you really need the program, you have no choice, but there are enough nuances aside from financial possibilities. It is worth trying your hand at creating a mobile app for business in such situations:
- Start-ups often have to move forward with their existing resources without the help of investors or loans. If you are just taking your first steps in business, consumers will not pick on flaws and errors. But for a large and well-known brand, an application with errors and glitches is more likely to incur the wrath of righteous customers.
For the tasks at hand a simple functionality and template design is enough. In this case, you can try to use an online designer.
- If most consumers at the moment come from offline, you have time to experiment. In this case, launching an app, whatever it may be, won’t affect business.
The product is needed immediately. There are only two scenarios here: buy ready-made code from the developers or try to quickly create a program in the constructor.
- The desire not to depend on the developers for further support of the application. A controversial point, since you must develop and update the program anyway. Whether you will be able to cope with it on your own is a big question.
If you do not know anything about mobile applications, but have a strong desire to create a program by yourself, you must first clearly understand what the product is and what will be its basic functionality in your specific case.
- The appearance and principle of work is probably already clear: the program is installed on smartphones and tablets, it helps users to interact with a particular site, solve some problems, find the necessary solutions and so on.
- The mobile application consists of Front-end and Back-end. The client interacts with the first one. The developer interacts with the second one. The Front-end is what the user sees on his device, and Back-end is the server part.
- The online designer includes all the components of the future program and facilitates the creation of a template application. When choosing a service for development, two details should be paid attention to: the provision of hosting and the ability to manage the application, including publication in the App Store, Google Play and other well-known stores, which are trusted by users.
Necessary functionality of the application
We formulate the goals and objectives that the program solves. In other words – create a detailed terms of reference for ourselves, to understand and determine the order of actions. From a business point of view all have the same goal – to stimulate the flow of clients and sales, to increase profits. But such a formulation does not form a plan of action. Look at the project from the customer’s point of view. Why does the application need an audience? What tasks will it help the consumer solve?
Let’s consider an example of internet-shop. A mobile app in this case is a tool for more comfortable and faster shopping, which should have the following characteristics:
- Convenient navigation. The presence of a filter, the ability to search for goods by specified parameters and categories.
- Convenient checkout: convenient payment system, shopping cart, order status tracking.
- Personal account. It is convenient for many users who want to see the history of their purchases, save selected products and goods for future purchase.
- Push-notifications. So the client will receive information on new arrivals, actions and favourable offers.
- News feed. Periodic reviews and news about the store and the assortment will be of interest to loyal consumers.
- This is the principle used to create the functionality of any mobile application for business and not only. You won’t need to think about design, button visualization, and screen layouts. In the designer, you choose one of the offered templates.
Online designers for developing mobile applications for iOS and Android
Among the services it is worth highlighting MobiCart. This is a great designer if you are going to make a program for an online store. The administrative panel and the application can be fully russified. In addition to MobiCart, there are many similar services to choose from: Create My Free App, MobiCommerce, Appy Pie, iBuildApp, Apptuse, compatible with most popular ecommerce-platforms, and others.
Constructors allow you to create different types of apps. If you have an information resource, try the AppsGeyser service. Here you can choose from several templates for creating a program guide or news aggregator, converting the site into the application, tracking publications, and more. Builders similar to AppsGeyser: AppsMakerStore, Mobincube, Monomobi, Appsbar and others.
With the help of the builder, you can create a workable template application that will perform the desired tasks: to provide commerce, distribute content or educate the audience. Products developed in this way are also published in stores, monetized through advertising and paid installation.
However, it is not enough to create an app. Subsequently, it needs to be updated, promoted and improved to retain loyal consumers and attract new ones. Designers can’t offer anything unique. They are always template solutions and limitations that are removed for a fee. But even then, it may not be possible to implement all the features and design chips you want. Only professional, skilled developers who can make an original, working and efficient product, tailored to your business can cope with this.
Briefly about the game engine Unity3D
Web112 studio specializes in mobile applications for business, but we have a reliable partner and friend Pragmatix which creates online games. Now we will tell you a little bit about the development environment used in the company.
Unity3D is a cross-platform game engine from Unity Technologies. Once upon a time the founders decided to create a game, but they couldn’t find the right software and decided to make their own. This is how Unity3D came to be – a free engine with the restriction of a logo at the start of the game, which disappears if you buy an extended version. The platform works on a component-oriented principle. For example, during the creation of game objects are added graphic components for rendering the character, components for control through a keyboard or mouse, and others. The essence of the engine – the creation of game objects and adding the necessary components.
Unity3D is good for medium complexity projects that are somewhere between simple clickers and powerful AAA-class projects. While the second option is controversial: the software can seem slow for complex games, but savvy professionals are able to create a major project with a decent performance, adjusting the components of the engine.
You can create a business program and a mobile game by yourself if you want. But if it were that easy, we developers would not be needed. Ready-made solutions are useful when you want to try your hand, test an application as a young start-up company, or when the consumer really doesn’t need any original and full-featured program. In other cases, only a professionally developed application can become an effective business tool and an additional source of sales.
Why did they change the order of drivers in the bike park
Let’s go back to the story about the bike park app. At the company, each driver is assigned to a specific area of the city. The employee goes around the stations, evaluates the vehicles, tidies them up, and sends them out for repairs if necessary. He also moves bikes to other stations. For all operations, the driver needs to make reports.
Previously, the company used paper forms. When the number of stations exceeded 300 and the number of bicycles exceeded 3,000, it became difficult to write reports on all transactions. Errors and time-consuming revisions of the forms increased. Dispatchers had to manually go through all the reports and reconcile the data to find the missing bicycles. Sometimes the drivers’ handwriting was illegible, resulting in a new series of errors and inaccuracies in the information.
At first, it was convenient to enter data into Excel, then into the accounting program, but as the scale increased, it became inefficient. Then, based on “1C: Enterprise,” an Android application was developed for the company and installed on special terminals – portable gadgets that look like smartphones. The devices read barcodes and have navigation.
Before starting work, the driver takes the terminal from the dispatcher, logs in to the program, and chooses a task to perform: to take the bicycle for repair, to move it to the station, to unload it, and so on. For example, if an employee moves bikes, he or she scans the barcodes of the vehicle after selecting the task, then unloads the bikes at the station, changes the status of the task, and scans the codes again. Vehicle status information is automatically entered into the database. No delays or errors.
How the app has improved the bike park experience:
- Speed of operation has increased. Dispatchers used to get vehicle status information twice a day. Now they can track all the information they need in real time. The staff no longer has to do paperwork and enter data manually. They are concentrating on the bike fleet management.
- Employee training has been simplified. It’s easier for new drivers to remember routines and get their bearings. They always have a terminal at their fingertips, where all task options are shown. Later each employee chooses a convenient order for himself or herself.
Thanks to the simplicity of the program and the terminal, the introduction of the new product into the park went smoothly. The staff easily mastered the app because the operation is on an intuitive level.
Why businesses need mobile apps: conclusions
To increase sales, loyalty and customer engagement in ecommerce, you can’t do without a mobile app. To summarize:
Mobile apps are convenient and fast. They load faster than sites, save user settings, and don’t require you to download all the content in your browser. Apps have access to native device features (geolocation, camera, voice recognition), integration with social networks, and personalization of content.
Mobile apps increase CA loyalty. According to Criteo’s research, apps account for 63% of all mobile sales. High CRR is due to the fact that the phone is always at hand and the enticing program icon on the screen is constantly in sight.
Apps are better at converting visitors into customers and increasing sales. They have higher conversion and average checkout rates than mobile sites, and bounce rates are lower. App users are more inclined to buy due to quick and convenient functionality.
Mobile apps provide more interaction with the consumer. This is due to push notifications, which work more effectively than SMS and mailings. The recipient receives the message instantly and is more likely to open it immediately. And there is no malware or spam. Competent push-notifications effectively convert users into customers and stimulate interest among loyal consumers.
Lately, e-commerce is rapidly moving to the mobile plane, but there are still few competitors in this environment. This is a great chance for companies to stand out from the crowd, engage the audience with new features and provide them with an improved way to interact with the brand, leading to increased CA loyalty and increased sales.