Published: August 30, 2017
17 min read
Last updated: May 2, 2022
8️⃣ Benefits of Building a Mobile App for your Small Business
💼 Custom Development vs White-Label Apps vs App Builders
❓ FAQ on Custom App Development
🤖 Tech Tips
💰 What Affects Mobile App Development Costs?
Mobile phones are truly a huge part of our lives:
For you as a business owner, it means that having a mobile app allows you to potentially become a part of 5.27 billion unique mobile users’ lives. It implies new sales channels and marketing tools, strengthening your brand loyalty, and expanding your clientele in general.
Want to build an app for your small business that each user could install on their mobile device? Read on! (image by QClay✌️)
In this article, we’ll talk about how you might benefit from integrating a mobile app into your business’s workflow in detail. Additionally, we are going to cover extra two options (white-label apps and app builders) for how you can get the app and make an FAQ to make certain aspects clear.
Finally, we’ll give you some technological tips based on our expertise as a mobile & web development company. So, if you find any of these relevant — welcome!
Let’s take a look at all the benefits you might get from implementing a mobile app into your workflow.
One of the most beneficial reasons why you should build a mobile app is sales increase. There are multiple cases when developing a mobile app allowed a significant sales boost:
Small business owners often create mobile apps for their business to increase money turnover by boosting sales (image by Abhinav Agrawal)
Surely, to reach such an increase, you shouldn’t just deploy an app and hope for the best — approach to building it matters a lot. For example, you definitely should reach out to existing customers and ask them what app features would make being your client more convenient.
This is something a British supermarket chain ASDA did, which resulted in their app generating 90% of all mobile sales with more than 2M downloads.
One of the biggest problems of small businesses is the tough competition from global brands. Most people know companies like Starbucks and H&M. Yet, local coffee houses or small designer brands are usually well-known only in their neighborhood or within narrow groups of people.
By creating small business apps, business owners increase their digital presence since now customers can install an app on their mobile device (image by Mike | Creative Mints)
Having a mobile app can provide you with a more visible position at different levels apart from representing your brand on the internet and giving you an option to promote on app stores:
Mobile apps are one of the greatest ways of reaching a wider audience. As we already mentioned, there are 5.27B unique mobile users. And technically, there’s not much to talk about since it’s self-explanatory. Yet, we’d like to talk about some aspects that might not be as obvious.
If you build an app for your small business, you increase the number of potential buyers since you get access to new marketing and communication channels (image by Taras Migulko)
Firstly, we completely understand that not all small businesses want or need to grow that much. If you own a small bakery, for instance, and want it to remain that way, 5.27B mobile users aren’t likely to be your target audience.
Yet, at the same time, it can help you build more stable relations with your current customers. Loyalty programs, special offers, convenient ordering and delivery system — this all will keep them more engaged & motivated to use your services and buy your goods.
However, if your business has something to do with providing services digitally, you can reach any part of the world you want, which implies:
Mobile apps are not only about attracting new consumers but retargeting them as well. One of the best tools for it is push notifications. It can help with retargeting in multiple ways:
Small business mobile app development reduces cost of user retargeting as well well opens new communication channels (image by sarafrbrito)
So, instead of generic offers, your customers can get relevant and personalized ones. This simple but effective solution will allow you to keep customers more engaged with your app and increase the number of abandoned but eventually completed orders from 8% to no less than 26% (according to Digital Information World).
Mobile apps can help you make your customers feel special and treated personally. They can memorize settings, save wish lists, rewards, and loyalty programs progress, recommend service or content based on one’s interest, etc. Surely, these are available over other digital products, yet, nothing is as effective as being present at users’ phone screens.
Small business apps allow you to provide high customization and track users’ response to it (image by Toda ✿)
Plus, with an app, it’s really easy to offer social media accounts integration. It can help you get even more information on your customers so that marketing would be even more targeted.
For a higher personalization level, we’d recommend asking for users’ names so that it’s not “you” but “Hello, [Name]!”. You can also offer personalized account avatars.
While businesses view mobile apps as marketing tools, a part of overall branding strategy, communication channels with clients, a source of additional income, and much more, the app’s core value for your customers lies in the improved customer experience and convenience.
Small business app development allows you to improve customer experience (image by Arya Wijaya Kusuma)
Better customer experience is enabled with help of features like:
Mobile apps are in fact a great tool for improving brand loyalty. In other words, turning customers that visit you rarely into regulars. There are quite a lot of brand loyalty features (they can also be called gamification features):
When it comes to brand loyalty, small business app development is a great tool to increase it (image by Muzi)
If you’d like to have a more detailed overview of each brand loyalty strategy and learn about some more, we have an article dedicated to building a loyalty app where we talk about all loyalty features:
How to Make a Loyalty App
Another reason to make an app for your business is customer data. Your app will gather different stats that can be used later to make data-driven business decisions and marketing to improve UX and increase your revenue.
Small business app (or web software) enable data collection, which you can use to improve user-experience and reduce cost (image by Balkan Brothers)
It can be:
When building a mobile app, you can opt for several options. So, in this article, we’ll review 3 options for you to choose from — custom mobile app development, buying an app from a white-label provider, and using app builders.
Custom development implies building an app from scratch with every single feature being designed specifically for your use case. This way, you get 100% personalization and convenience since all parts of development like the UX/UI design are up to you.
Custom small business app has a higher cost but offers your users a much better experience (image by Alexandr V)
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this option:
So, if any of the benefits are crucial for you, we’d recommend building a custom app. Custom development might also be the most suitable option if you want to have full control over the app and modify it any time and as you want. Or if you need a custom app’s structure for your specific workflow.
Plus, custom apps are more beneficial in the long term since you don’t have to pay for the features you don’t use — normally, you pay for a set of features regardless of whether you’ll use them.
If you use a white-label app, it means that a company built a template of an app and sold it to you. You can customize the UI design to a certain extent (icons, pictures, colors, fonts) and, rarely, slightly modify the functionality.
Moreover, there are different types of white-label apps — single- and multi-tenant. Single-tenancy implies having an isolated data storage on the server that a provider offers, more customization possibilities, and more freedom of choice when it comes to updating the app since they’re not bound to any other app on the server.
On the other hand, multi-tenancy provides you with less customization, and your app is hosted on the shared server, which means that you can’t decide when to update or modify the app since the code isn’t isolated.
You can use a white-label platform to build your small business app (image by CMARIX)
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a white-label app:
White-label apps might be a great option if you need to have an app within 1-2 weeks, don’t need functionality customization, or don’t have enough budget to get a custom app but still want a more or less functional app. Plus, you might not be sure whether a mobile app is something you definitely want, so, you can use a white-label product as an MVP to test out the market and switch to a custom app later.
App builders are platforms where you make an app with your hands without having to code. The functionality includes UI design customization like colors and fonts, several layout options (not customizable), features.
As an alternative, you can use an app builder to develop your small business app (shots from Appy Pie)
Let’s review the pros and cons:
So, this option is the least reliable yet the easiest one. It might be suitable for you if you just want to test the idea but don’t have enough budget to build a well-functioning MVP, for example.
In this section, we’ll answer some questions on custom mobile app development — it’ll definitely help you understand the process even better.
To begin with, having a website doesn’t make the coding process easier since the web and mobile products don’t usually share codebases. Yet, it surely is easier to build an app in case you have a well-functioning website.
An app for small businesses is easier to build if you already have a well-functioning website (image by Taras Migulko)
One of the time-saving aspects is that you already have a design and brand. Surely, if you want to add some new things, it’s not a big deal. But generally, the design of all your products should be mutually consistent.
Yet, another important thing is that not all features from your website could be enabled in the app or vice versa — at least, not with the same approach. For instance, web products use desktop notifications, while push notifications are an option for native apps. In-app purchases also differ — it can be enabled with the help of 3rd-party providers like Solarisbank or Stripe, but the codebase will still be different.
Your development team will most likely be competent in this field, yet, we still recommend conducting your own research to be more aware of the differences and alternatives.
Let’s take a look at how you can speed up the development process as well as reduce costs without damaging your app’s quality.
First of all, you should plan everything as early and precisely as possible. The thing is that with the development, it’s pretty hard to take steps back and apply changes — it might imply modifying a big part of a code.
Sure thing, if you’d like to change something later on during the development, it won’t be a problem and the developers would happily fulfill your request. Yet, by minimizing the risk of changing your mind, you significantly decrease both time and costs of mobile app development.
When building an app for your small business, think about planning it well in advance (image by Anton Kakhidze)
And another recommendation would be not to overload the app with features and integrations right at the beginning. For starters, basic functionality with user-friendly design will most likely be sufficient.
This way, you decrease the time and costs needed for the development as well as give your customers time to get used to the app. Plus, it’s not a problem to modify the app in the future.
For this purpose, you might even build a sustainable MVP with only basic functionality. We in fact have an article dedicated to building an MVP if you’d like to get some insights on this topic:
How Much Does it Cost to Build an MVP?
To put it briefly, there are 2 main options for hiring developers: in-house and outsourcing. In-house implies hiring developers and making them a part of your employees, while outsourcing is about working with 3rd-party providers.
Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of both options. So, as for outsourcing, you might get the following benefits and face these downsides:
Yet, with a reliable outsourced development team, there are practically no risks, meaning that by finding the right partner you can avoid them.
An app for small businesses: should you have an in-house team for building an app or it’s better to outsource? (image by Conceptzilla)
In-house development can be both beneficial and risky as well:
As a summary, we’d like to list some use cases when one of these options might be more suitable for you. So, if you’re targeted at comparatively fast app deployment, ready for cross-cultural communication, don’t want to allocate resources for hiring and managing the development, or to be bound to a certain developer, you should consider outsourcing.
We actually have an article dedicated to outsourcing your app development if you’d like to learn more about it:
[How and Why] Outsource Your Mobile App Development?
Hiring an in-house team may be a better option if you prefer to have wider control and management possibilities over the development process. This may also work better if you’re building a complex product that will need constant post-release support.
Yet, be ready that this option requires a lot of financial resources and time on building the team, as well as understanding of IT skills needed to create the app you want.
And last but not least, we’ll give you tips on how you can find the right Tech Partner for your project in case you decide to work with a 3rd-party provider.
You can build a small business app by using a team of experienced app developers but make sure to choose them wisely (image by Hurca!™)
Here they are:
The first aspect we’d like to cover is how to choose between building an iOS or Android app. There are two crucial moments to pay attention to:
So, if your priority is increasing your digital presence, you can consider building an Android app. But if you want to have an audience that pays more, an iOS app might be more suitable.
Luckily, you don’t have to limit yourself by building an app for only 1 operating system — there’s a way you can build one for both.
Small business app: tech tips from an experienced app development company (image by Taras Migulko)
So as not to put yourself in a position where you have to choose between two operating systems since both of them provide you with the essential perks of a mobile app, you can build it using React Native — a cross-platform development framework.
Cross-platform here implies that you can use 70-80% of the codebase for both Android and iOS development. Our team has a lot of experience with React Native. You can take a look at Civocracy and Pocket Promoter case studies. For these projects, we’ve built digital products with the help of React Native.
An app for your business: why & how to build (image by PVSM)
And last but not least, here’s a list of useful 3rd-Party integrations:
So as to plan the budget for the app development in advance, you should take these cost components into account:
To wrap it up, we’d like to say that mobile apps can significantly boost your business and growth with the right approach. But what is the right approach after all?
Even though it’ll be individual for each separate use case, we can give you some tips:
If you need any help with the development or have some questions left, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be more than happy to help you!
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