For years, small and midsize businesses have played catch-up with their larger corporate counterparts in the rush into digital marketing and sales. As it was with traditional avenues of business, the bigger players simply had greater ability to design powerful, engaging websites and establish themselves online.
The openness of the Internet did enable smaller businesses to break into markets they otherwise could not have reached, but it sometimes required the digital-age equivalent of catching lightning in a bottle.
These days, however, the landscape is shifting. The focus of digital development for businesses of all sizes is now the smartphone app. Long gone are the days when tech startups were the only ones working on app development.
Developing a custom app makes good business sense for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it guarantees a direct connection with customers. There’s also a low barrier to entry into the market, and the odds are good that solid market research will lead to a successful and sticky app. The financial incentives are also difficult to ignore.
An enormous market continues to expand
According to research firm Statista, the global app market generated a staggering $69.7 billion in revenue in 2015. What’s more astounding is that they estimate that the total revenue will rise to $188.9 billion by 2020. To put that figure into perspective, consider that it would make the global app market more profitable than the nation of Romania. To be clear, it’s an expanding market, but the competition for a slice of the revenue is fierce.
Although there’s money to be made through apps, small and midsize businesses were slow to enter the market. Surveys show that only 42% of SMBs currently have a mobile app, but the number is expected to rise to 67% by the end of 2017. The expansion seems to be driven by the desire to improve customer service, but that won’t be the case for much longer. Some early indicators this year illustrate quite vividly that sales potential will fuel next-generation apps.
SMBs must fight for sales
As the 2017 holiday shopping season begins, there are already signs that e-commerce sites will be shattering records worldwide. For SMBs, grabbing a slice of that market can be transformative (and crucial) to their business. Since it’s easier than ever to develop a custom app to drive customer engagement and sales, this may be a move SMBs can’t put off any longer.
There are already turnkey solutions for companies making their initial entry into the app market, but the sales imperatives involved may require new approaches. Some businesses are choosing to create a marketplace app as a branded portal to capture customer attention and boost market share. It’s an all-in-one approach that can provide push marketing, coupon delivery, and personalized customer experiences. Once they gain a foothold, it becomes possible to speak directly to consumers and create brand loyalty that can rival that of a retail giant.
The window of opportunity is open, for now
The one thing that SMBs must keep in mind is that they may not have much more time to develop a custom app that sticks. Although the app market is continuing to expand, the gains are starting to accrue mostly to larger organizations like Amazon. It’s still possible to find a niche and therefore a share of the market, but the time to act is now.
Getting an app established with consumers will require some planning and effort, and the pressure is already squarely on newcomers. The only thing that remains certain is that consumers are still ready, willing, and able to embrace any app that brings value and a great user experience into the palm of their hand. SMBs now have the tools to compete, and they’re sure to do so.
To learn more about the future of digital customer experiences, see What Will The Customer Experience Look Like In 2020?