We may not be standing at the hatch of our spaceship ready to step out on an unknown planet, but trust me— it's a whole new world out there. From the 1960s to the 1990s it was something of an event to "go shopping.” People actually dressed for the occasion.
By the mid-1990s, Wal-Mart was starting to catch-hold, and other Big Box stores were becoming the default. Nowadays people are so blasé about it that they go shopping in sweat pants, and seem ill-prepared to face the day.
Engage your Customers
There is a significant need to re-spark the interest of the consumer. One of the best ways we've seen in recent years is to provide a mobile app for your customers and users. It engages their attention, more so than mere advertising because they are a part of the process.
To obtain your mobile app your customers have taken a very specific series of actions— locating your software, downloading it, and installing your app— which means they have expressed trust or faith in you. They now they have a vested interest in it being useful to them.
We shouldn't take that responsibility lightly. If it is not a completely smooth and intuitive operation, you're not doing them, or yourself, any particular good. Keep in mind that they can uninstall that software more quickly than they installed it. That means the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid), is in full force of effect.
Consumers love apps
Did you know that in contemporary society the majority of consumers spend almost 2½ hours per day using these portable apps? Admittedly, 32% of that time is gaming, and another 28% is spent on messaging and other social activities such as Facebook. After you subtract 60% for gaming and messaging, what's left to do? It leaves productivity apps, and purchasing apps— and that's where you come into the picture.
You need to create an app that provides a valuable tool for your client, allowing them to do something they couldn't do before. It could be a tool to help your sales staff be more productive; it could be something that provides the customer with a faster, more convenient interface for interacting with you.
Many recently graduated 20-somethings have probably spent three years or more in college getting a computer degree of some kind. They're often really creative when it comes to making microprocessors jump through flaming hoops and perform stunning feats. They also sometimes forget that everybody else in the world isn't a recent graduate.
Apps do not need to be complex— they need to be simple, with large buttons and easy choices. Designing it, while keeping your grandparents in mind, might be a good idea. They're not dumb—they have probably been using computers longer than you have— but think in terms of average vision, avoiding tiny type and buttons that are too close together…
You can do it, too!
Having never taken a course to learn a computer language, or how to make programs of any kind, you're thinking that you will need to hire somebody to build your app. A lot of businesses choose that route because the task appears to require a level of technical expertise and budget allowances they don't believe they possess.
That can cost tens of thousands of dollars in development costs alone even before the app is put through testing to make sure it's both robust and safe. Then there's the marketing so people know about the app.
Facing that convoluted and expensive process could end the project before it begins. And it should be clear by now, you need that app!
It's actually easy
At AppSheet, our goal is to empower everyone to create their own mobile apps. Best of all, you don't need to know how to code. If you have a spreadsheet, you can create an app!
That means you are now poised to create a much more meaningful relationship with your clients with little investment. Drop by AppSheet and open a free account where you can experiment and even create a personal or prototype app.
An app for every purpose
Is your app going to be an informer or a persuader? One such sample app is a repair manual for fixing holes in drywall. You can change it to suit any task you desire, and can even include pictures and illustrations, as required.
On the other hand, you may want to send somebody to your Etsy, Amazon, or Ebay store to peruse your products. After they have had a chance to go through your catalog of wonderful items (with plenty of text and pictures to emphasize all the great features), your website is just a click away.
How about inventorying your store? There's an app for that.
Perhaps you're a physician who requires a pre-surgery checklist? Are you a home inspector that needs to record images and commentary? There's an app for that, too.
You can use apps to track your deliveries to make sure your customers are being served in the best way possible. There are even apps to calculate and provide quotes to your customers.
With AppSheet, it's all up to your imagination.
With the dawn of technology and DIY platforms, people have become much more accustomed to self-serve utilities. There will always be room for app developers creating highly complex and convoluted programs. But for the most part, you can design your own professional apps that will do a great job and it won't cost you an arm and a leg.
Keep in mind that it is really important to stay in touch with your customers; you need to provide them with usable information and forms of interaction that makes their lives easier. If they feel that they have been better served by you because of your app, they will recommend you to someone else. Nothing is better than a personal recommendation to a friend about your company because you have engaged meaningfully with the customer.
If you are late to this party, your competitors will snap up what you might deem to be your fair share of the market, and then it will be an uphill battle trying to get those customers back.
The simple solution is: don't be late!
*Randi Sherman and David Carter contributed to this post.