Covid-19 will go in the annals of history as the pandemic that caused a mass disruption of the economy. The lockdown hit small businesses the hardest, and many have not yet recovered from it despite the strong support in the form of grants, forgivable loans, and other aid by the federal and state governments in the U.S. the pandemic resulted in the closure of approximately 200,000 business establishments during the first year of the viral outbreak.
What caused this mayhem? There are many reasons. Small firms that had relied on a strong physical presence were doomed by the sudden necessity to move online. They never felt the need for an e-commerce website or a mobile app. The sudden turn of events couldn’t prepare them for the digital transition, and many had to abruptly shut doors. Those that quickly adapted their businesses to meet the needs of their customers were the ones who survived the pandemic.
Apps have long been the future of online shopping, but the pandemic hastened their adoption. It proved to be a lifesaver for businesses to deliver great experiences while maintaining local pandemic guidelines.
But what lies ahead post-pandemic? Can businesses get their sales on track through a mobile app? Let’s explore how mobile applications can push the recovery of small businesses now that the initial fear of Covid-19 is largely gone due to the double vaccinations and easing of restrictions.
Refocusing digital efforts toward changing customer expectations
Undoubtedly, the pandemic put the focus on digital technology. Many companies that shied away from having a strong digital presence were accelerating their shift toward the digital-first model. The online businesses were interconnected across the journey from warehousing and marketing to customer support.
But the e-commerce scenario is not like before. Companies cannot just focus on digitizing. They have to refocus on customer journeys to provide them with a frictionless digital channel. For instance, the airlines that provided online booking services are now reinventing the wheel with contactless journeys focused to make the passengers feel safe.
Similarly, businesses can move towards providing their regular customers with personalized experiences with a mobile application. The first step is to assess how the needs and behaviors of the customers have changed. But companies fear treading the path of m-commerce because of the time and money needed to build a mobile app.
Instead of building a mobile app from the scratch, businesses can benefit from turning their e-commerce website into an engaging mobile app. The advanced technology has made mobile app creation easy and hassle-free. Swipecart is one such tool to convert websites to mobile apps using an easy drag-and-drop editor. It requires no coding skills, and anyone can build a mobile app from their Shopify or WooCommerce store.
With mobile app building made easy, businesses can now refocus their digital efforts toward meeting customer expectations. The first step is to understand what their customer wants, and this is made possible through data and its analysis.
Use new data and AI to improve business operations
Even with a few hundreds of available data, businesses can get valuable customer information. The task of the analytics team would be to work on the available data post-pandemic. These serve as the basis on which important business decisions will be made.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a huge role to play in forecasting customer behavior by studying the previous inputs. For instance, product recommendations through AI help businesses to sell the right products to customers and keep them engaged.
Aim for sales in subtle ways
Companies have been overwhelmed by the rapidly changing needs of their customers during the pandemic. The sudden chaos of shifting online or making it better has been a steep learning curve for businesses. Now that the Covid-19 restrictions have eased, it’s taking time for the customers to go back to the pre-pandemic days. Some businesses may never move back to the traditional methods. They will have to invest in customer-facing digital solutions and critical decision-support systems.
Modernizing technology capabilities should not be made suddenly. Businesses have to watch and learn the changing need of customers and act accordingly. For instance, the demand for at-home fitness and medical apps remains high as the pandemic continues across the world. One thing to notice here is that the majority of the mobile apps topping the download charts are free-to-use apps. Customers are less judgmental when they get to download and use apps for free. Ahem, we feel that way, but customers remain ever cautious.
And then, there are umpteen ways you can coax the app user to sign in for in-app purchases or you can also make money through ads on the app. YouTube, Facebook, or Snapchat make money through ads. Tinder, Netflix, and HBO make money through their subscription service and in-app purchases. Businesses can adopt these freemium models for their mobile apps to help them get maximum downloads and revenues.
The point here is to give impetus to the convenience factor of the customers and then lure them in subtle ways to make your sales pitch.
With the pandemic, the marketing lessons were learned hard. You now had to pay for digital ads instead of billboards and magazines. But with a mobile app, you have access to customers 24*7. Since the app is downloaded and remains on their device screen, businesses can now turn to in-app marketing to retain customers. Shopping triggers through push notifications help businesses inform their customers about new products and offers in real-time. Cart abandonment notifications can be used to increase app engagement resulting in sales.
Businesses can also use sponsored ads (PPC) on Google and social media channels to advertise their app to venture beyond their normal customer base. In-app marketing measures to onboard new users and guide them through the app offer a new avenue to increase engagement and sales.
Provide value to customers
Now that businesses have to work hard to retain customers, mobile apps provide some exciting ways to achieve it. Customer loyalty can be got through programs on apps. Points, rewards, coupons, discounts, referrals, and early access are some of the ways to retain customers as well as get new ones. When customers interact more with your app, you provide them value and increase their interaction with the brand.
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Tips to consider when designing the mobile app to help you in business recovery
While it’s true that online shopping has experienced a huge shift due to the pandemic, it’s also just more than technology. It’s about the personal shopping experience and a mobile app is the best bet to achieve it.
Now that we are hopefully past the rigorous lockdown measures, it’s time to adopt a fresh outlook on the mobile app design. Here are some tips to consider when designing the app to help you speed up your business recovery.
1. Have an empathetic mindset:
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What type of online shopping experience would you want? What features help you with easy shopping and fast checkout? Actually, the point where small businesses falter is they create mobile apps keeping important features in mind. They take it for granted that it is also necessary for their customers. Instead, research from the grassroots level. Conduct surveys and ask for feedback. Every advanced feature need not be in your app. Instead, focus on only those that your customers want.
2. Ensure you pick the correct data:
As they say, data is easy to get but difficult to analyze. The consumer behavior post-pandemic has drastically changed and you can no longer rely on the results of your previous data. Get your analytics team to find the changes in customer preferences. Set right your business tactics and let them reflect on the mobile app. For example, you can change your content strategy in push notifications to include customer preferences. Once you have the correct data analysis, you can start implementing changes in your online business to reflect the changing needs of your customers.
3. Keep it simple:
You promise your customers to deliver an exceptional shopping experience on the mobile app. Keep the promise. Don’t make them download the app only to find that your mobile app is anything but easy to shop. Incorporate only the important features and functions. Remember, your website design has to be different from your app design. You cannot have all the elements jostle for space in the limited mobile device screen. De-clutter the design, remove things that aren’t necessary and keep it clean. A simple app attracts more customers and gets them back again.
4. Offer app usage triggers
Don’t make the app users forget to use your app. Send them push notifications to remind them of your app and get using it again. Did the customer wishlist any product but not bought it yet? No worries! Send them a personalized push notification reminding them of the product on their wishlist. Was any of the products out of stock? Again, a push notification telling them about restocking their favorite product will get them back to the app. Push notification is a useful tool, that when utilized properly, can help you retain app users and get increased customer lifetime value.
For sure, the mobile app is a winner!
There aren’t two ways about it. A mobile app is a way forward. Over the last few years, businesses were busy trying to fend off the competition from Amazon. But today, post-pandemic, they’re focusing on enhancing the customer shopping experience. A mobile app provides you with the power to personalize this experience and strengthen your customer base.
Swipecart, a product of Rentech Digital, is a free-to-use app builder for businesses to start their m-commerce journey. It has more advanced features than other mobile app builders in the market. It uses AI and a slew of other features to provide a one-of-a-kind shopping experience to customers. If you’re interested to know more, you can contact Swipecart today.