Does my business need a mobile app? – StartupSmart

I run a retail business and am wondering if we need an app.


Generally speaking, what kind of businesses benefit from having an app?


And how much does it cost to develop one?


Apps have certainly become the new craze for businesses but it’s much more than a case of wanting an app, it’s about what effect it will have upon your business.


I would receive a couple of enquiries a week in regards to businesses seeking information on what is involved with building an app. My first question is always the same: “What do you need the app to do?”


In many cases, the need can be fulfilled through another mechanism that is cheaper, more effective or, more often than not, both!


An app is just another marketing tool and like all tools, it’s not the correct fit for every business.


I encourage businesses to consider:

  • What benefit can be gained from the development of an app?
  • Will it drive you more business?
  • Will it increase internal or general efficiencies?
  • Will it gain you higher levels of recognition and brand awareness?

As an example, I had an organisation approach me who wanted to develop an app that was essentially a directory.


This information already existed on their website but the website was not mobile compatible.


In this instance, the cost difference between developing an app (compared to re-developing the site to be mobile compatible) was over five times as much!


At the same time, many organisations derive huge benefits from the development of an internal app that drives higher levels of productivity.


Paperless forms, inventory systems, time management, etc, all provides a direct benefit to the business.


With new emerging opportunities such as Apple’s iOS Developer Enterprise Program, developers are now able to develop and distribute apps to a set of employees rather than needing to push the app through the iTunes App Store.


The benefit in this is higher level of controls and avoiding the app being publicly available, this has opened new opportunities for the business sector.


In terms of costs, like most technologies, it’s a case of what the brief calls for. In some round terms though, custom development would begin at around $10,000 and you can essentially spend as much as you can imagine from there.


There are certainly cheaper ways to enter into the app market but these generally rely on an existing platform that is able to be adapted to your needs.


If you’re selling the app on the App Store, you’ll also need to be mindful of the 30% cut that Apple takes for being on the world’s largest App marketplace.


While we’ve covered iOS (or Apple-based) development, you also have to consider Android and Windows Mobile markets, which require their own development. This can triple your development costs if you wish to reach your entire market.


The initial cost of developing the app – along with the enormity of which direction to take combined with an understanding of whether it will actually provide you with a clear ROI (Return on Investment) – is key to determining if an app will be a wise use of your money.


There are many options and knowing what’s right for your business is the difference between an investment and a waste of money.

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