The future of e-commerce undoubtedly lies in mobile technologies. Considering that more than 6.2 billion of the global population own a smartphone, you'll want to invest in viable strategies that solidify your business's position in the changing digital landscape, including exploring the benefits of app development.
Sole reliant on websites to compete digitally is no longer enough. Instead, businesses are turning to mobile apps to expand their reach to potential customers with responsive engagement, targeted offers, and personalized experiences. The keen interest in mobile apps is reflected by the market's dramatic growth, which is projected to hit US$542.80 billion by 2026.
If you're torn with questions like how a mobile app could benefit your business in ways a website never would, we've got you covered.
What's the difference?
The battle of mobile apps vs. websites has invited thought-provoking debates amongst the IT and business communities. A mobile responsive website, which realigns itself on a desktop and mobile browser, helps display business-related information. Meanwhile, the benefits of a mobile app extend to increasing customer engagement, conversions, and profitability.
A dedicated mobile app trumps a mobile-responsive website in various areas, including loading time, personalization, offline capability, and more. For example, users prefer to launch an app from the mobile screen than to key in the URL of a business each time they want to purchase products online.
These are how mobile apps fare compared to websites.
1. Greater efficiency
Websites heavily rely on a backend webserver to load information and process data submitted by the users. They are built with plugins and modules, which might introduce significant latency.
At times, even the most responsive website can suffer from lags and disconnects, which affect user experience. Meanwhile, mobile apps perform many functions and data storage locally, which reduces dependency on the backend server.
Also, mobile app development involves technological stacks that are optimized for efficiency. Therefore, they are comparably faster than websites, particularly when performing complicated business functions.
One of the secrets to brand loyalty is offering customers a personalized experience. This is easier to achieve on a mobile app compared to a website. A mobile app allows businesses to craft a unique customer journey in several ways.
Customers can set their shopping preferences on the mobile app, which will be used to display products or deals that match their interests. Also, mobile apps can send aggregated usage data to the backend server for analytical purposes. The data helps businesses consolidate buying trends, demographics, and other metrics to improve customer experience.
3. Offline capacity
A website is only as good as the underlying internet connection. Customers who find themselves in an area with poor internet coverage might lose access to all functionalities on the website. However, a mobile app can function in both online and offline environments.
For example, customers can still browse and add products to the shopping cart with a grocery app that goes offline. Or an e-book app can be designed to automatically download the content to local storage to enable offline reading. This is one of the unique mobile app benefits that make them versatile for users.
4. Leverage hardware functions
Websites are constrained to the functionalities of the web browser, which limits engagement opportunities and business innovations. Meanwhile, a mobile app can take advantage of the underlying hardware features of the respective mobile phone. Developers can introduce the camera, geolocational sensor, digital wallet, and other low-level features that are not accessible to websites.
5. Real-time notifications
Customers might not appreciate being hard-sell to, but they want to be in the loop for deals and exciting opportunities. With a mobile app, businesses can easily implement push notifications or in-app notifications to keep the customers updated. Both are non-intrusive marketing approaches that are harder to apply on a website and often requires additional software module.
6 main benefits of mobile apps for businesses
Building a mobile app introduces new possibilities to your business to widen your customer base and maximize return on investment (ROI). These are the key advantages of mobile apps for business.
1. Responsive and clear communication at all times
Businesses are still very customer-centric despite the advancement of mobile technologies. Customers prefer companies that demonstrate an ever-presence in the digital space. If they want a piece of information or purchase a product, they shall get it immediately. This is one of the mobile app advantages that allow customers to engage with the business regardless of when and where.
A mobile app puts your business at the customer's fingertip, almost quite literally. Instead of navigating through web pages to reach out to your business, customers can install an app and start interacting immediately. They can check out information, purchase products, subscribe to services, or chat with customer support personnel through the mobile app.
Features like 24/7 live chat and problem resolution tracker help businesses instill customer confidence. They underscored the notion that your business cares and tries to fix customers' problems in time. And that's the critical piece that turns your customers into loyal followers.
2. Provide more value to your customers
Customers' shopping preferences are shaped by evolving retail trends. So is their tendency to stay with your business and not opt for a competitor. As a key stakeholder in your company, your role is to ensure that your business remains relevant to modern buyers. This is where building a mobile app help.
Mobile apps considerably transform customer experience and change how they browse, shop, and engage with businesses. For example, some customers prefer to escape traffic congestion and shop comfortably in their rooms. Others might want to enroll in online courses instead of attending physical ones.
Integrating mobile apps into your business allows you to meet anticipated customers' demands and gain a competitive edge in your niche. Mobile apps also fuel business intelligence efforts which further impart value into the customer purchase lifecycle.
3. Improve customer loyalty
Shoppers who feel rewarded stay with the business indefinitely. Integrating loyalty programs into marketing strategies is a strategy that could bear good results if done correctly. However, it is often risky to implement a loyalty program when you have little data to start with.
A mobile app sets the perfect scene for data-driven loyalty programs that reward customers and businesses. It can easily track past purchase records and automatically send reward points or vouchers to the customer's account. Customers can immediately use the points or vouchers to enjoy price reductions on their next purchase.
Businesses can also target customers with different marketing messages by analyzing their past usage. For example, a sequence of push notifications that conveys appreciation can draw inactive users back into the app. Meanwhile, physical stores can use a mobile app to alert users within a certain distance of an ongoing deal.
4. Build a stronger brand
Branding is an essential activity that distinguishes a business from its competitors. When establishing brand identity in digital spaces, companies must maintain a consistent messaging, style, colors, and user experience. This is where a mobile app comes in handy.
Mobile apps are fully customizable to deliver an experience synonymous with the company's value. For example, L'oreal includes a virtual mirror in its app that enable customers to try on virtual makeup products and connect with cosmetic experts. The feature proves highly popular with users and resonates with what the brand stands for.
While visual elements and next-gen features help shape your brand's identity on an app, it is equally essential to get the basics right. A mobile business app must first and foremost be functional and free from disruptive flaws. You can't build trust with an app that crashes or displays other erratic behaviors.
5. Build a Direct and Personalized Marketing Channel
One of the most effective ways to increase sales is to offer customers products that they already have in mind. While an app is not telepathic, it can leverage interaction patterns to make relevant suggestions. Such a data-driven marketing approach relies on collecting and analyzing a vast amount of customers' in-app behavioral data.
By turning the data into marketing analytics, you can tailor promotional programs to groups or specific customers. Instead of pushing generic deals, the app recommends products that customers are likely to purchase. Such personalized recommendations give more reasons for users to engage with your business over the app.
Personalized app marketing allows your business to cut through the noise better than conventional approaches. Users can't help but glimpse the push notifications that appear on the screen. Conversely, relying on matured technologies like email marketing may get your message drowned in heaps of other emails.
6. Reduce operational costs
A mobile app automates various parts of business processes. You save on operational costs when you provide an intuitive self-managed app to users. Instead of relying on front-facing staff, customers can browse, compare, order, and track the shipment of products within the app.
Some mobile apps leverage artificial intelligence technologies to attend to queries or complaints. They use a highly-intelligent chatbot to resolve customers' issues promptly or as a virtual assistant for the support team. You can also include a helpful knowledge base that customers can turn to when they face issues.
We’ve shown you the benefits mobile app brings to the table. Mobile apps are pivotal to ensuring your business remains competitive and relevant to the target customers. Integrating mobile apps into your business can offer a value-added personalized experience that runs on data-rich analytics. It also helps you to secure a customer base with solid branding efforts.
While the mobile app landscape is yet to be saturated, many companies are embarking on the effort to digitize customer experience with an app. As a forward-thinking business, you should build a mobile app for business with an in-house or outsourced development team.
We understand that developing a mobile app is a considerable investment. However, new software technologies allow you to convert an existing website or web application into a fully-functional mobile app in hours or minutes. One of the latest websites-to-mobile app converters is Natively, which is built by our team.