Digital transformation of business is a long-going trend. In the last two years, when millions of people had to stay home for months, this trend has accelerated significantly. Companies were looking for ways not to lose touch with their consumers, so they went online. Businesses around the world are developing their own mobile applications.
According to Statista, in the USA only, the retail m-commerce sales via smartphone would reach 221.2 billion dollars in 2021 and 418.9 billion dollars in 2024. The global market share of m-commerce in e-commerce is anticipated to reach 72.9% by 2021. Moreover, mobile app downloads are expected to reach 258 billion in 2022, that’s a 45% increase from 2017.
Two more numbers that might help you make a decision: according to 99firms, around 87% of shoppers worldwide search for products online before buying. In 2019, 58% of all Google searches were done via mobile devices.
There are many benefits to creating your mobile app:
- Сonstant stay in touch with your audience
- Affordable direct sales channel
- Increased audience engagement
- Easy collection of data for further analysis
One of the main disadvantages of creating your own mobile app is the high competition in this market. If you want users to install it, you will have to make it not only powerful and convenient but also constantly promote it.
But if the benefits outweigh, and you are not afraid of difficulties, then it's time to do your own business app! To make it easier for you to get started, we have written this guide.
First of all, you should decide on your target audience. Of course, you have been working in the market for some time and already know who your customers are. However, it’s not the fact that the same people will switch to the mobile app.
On the one hand, some of your customers will not want to install another mobile application on their phones. On the other, you get a unique chance to attract new customers who might not otherwise have known about your business.
Before you start developing an app, try to make a clear portrait of your potential online buyer. We recommend creating a brand persona: a specific person with a name, age, education, marital status, interests, and hobbies. They would become the face of your audience. They are who you create an app for. Ask yourself:
- What are the interests of your brand persona?
- What will motivate them to install the app?
- What will push them to make a purchase?
- How much are they willing to spend on your product via the app?
According to Marketing Insider Group, 93% of companies who exceed lead and revenue goals segment their database by buyer persona.
Understanding the target audience will help you form the general idea and concept of the future app. To do this, we again recommend that you ask yourself a few questions. The answers will help understand why you need your own application and how it would provide you with the maximum benefit.
- What goals do you want to achieve with the app?
- What problems do you plan to solve with its release?
- What should it be like to make the brand persona interested?
Once you have decided what the idea behind your app is, it is time to analyze the market and carefully study competitors. This will help you not only stand out but also avoid the mistakes they've already made.
First of all, study the top applications in relevant categories of app stores, such as Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Install your competitors' apps and try them out. Do this as thoroughly as possible, pay attention to every little thing.
Be sure to ask your employees to join the research: the more opinions, the better. You can also interview your customers. Find out what they would like to see in your future application.
After researching your competitors and talking to clients, make a list of the good and bad ideas. This information will be helpful to you when drawing up a functional specification for a future app.
The Functional Specification
It's time to get down to business! Any large-scale work begins with a functional specification. It should be clear, understandable, and cover all aspects of the application development. When drawing it up, be sure to consult with the developers. They will help to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings.
Don't forget to cover:
- User registration and authorization
- User profile and history of actions
- The clear and intuitive checkout process
- Variety of payment options
- Products rating and reviews
- Additional options: wishlist, quick checkout
Please note that the application should work equally well on the two most common platforms – iOS and Android. As for the development approach, be sure to consult with experts (they will highlight what to focus on).
Pay particular attention to UI/UX design. This means that the application should look not only nice but also be convenient and intuitive. The users should not think about where to search the section they need. Any action should be performed with a minimum number of clicks. Keep in mind that sometimes a few extra steps in the checkout process will make the buyer not come back to you.
Having written the functional specification, you can entrust the work to the e-commerce development team. If you have a large business, it will be more convenient and profitable to hire them full-time. They will support the app after its release. If you have a small company and your app is not too complex, it makes sense to find a freelance developer.
The cost of developing an application can be very different and depends on its complexity, the number of specialists involved in the process, and other factors such as the use of smartphone hardware features or maintenance plans. We strongly recommend not trying to save money on development. The unstable work of the app will only scare customers away and significantly spoil your image.
After the development stage, the testing period begins. Usually, it is done by specialists. But you shouldn't stay away either. After all, who knows your customer better than you?
Before the app's official release, be sure to repeatedly go the way the client would go. Try being in their shoes so you can see weak points and fix them before it's too late.
When the testing is over, you are ready for the Great Launch! Take a moment to celebrate it.
The first days after the official launch are very important. To make them go smoothly, make sure that the company is ready for everything: to process orders coming through the app, provide support to users, answer their questions, and quickly resolve problems. Yes, there would be problems at the start. It is inevitable.
Also, make sure your app looks good on the app store. Select informative and nice-looking screenshots and make a concise description that will encourage the user to install it.
The Further Development
The app release is not the last step. You still have a lot of work ahead of you:
- Improve app's functionality
- Promote it to attract new users
- Optimize user experience
Starting from the very first days after the launch, begin collecting data on your customers' behavior. This information will help you better understand them and make the necessary improvements in the future.
The process of developing an app might seem complex, but in fact, you just need a great idea and a strong will to work thoroughly on it. We hope that you will create a perfect app, attract new customers and increase profits with our guide. For your business to receive only benefits and not problems with your app, be sure to involve professionals in its development. Good luck!