How to make sure your mobile application will beat the competition?
Mobile apps are one of the must-have revenue-generating tools for many different industries. The data shows that apps convert up to three times more traffic into sales, achieving a conversion rate of 6% on average, which is genuinely satisfactory compared to mobile websites’ results (1.5-2%). The data speaks for itself - most of your direct competitors are already investing heavily in their digital presence - building e-commerce platforms or mobile apps, taking advantage of the growing demand for digital services of various kinds, which in the age of the ongoing pandemic is crucial for business. So, it’s high time to consider what you can do to put the icing on the cake and boost your business with mobile applications, or any other digital product.
Numbers don’t lie - there’s still room to grow for mobile
The unfortunate events of 2020, including the global pandemic and massive restrictions in the retail and gastronomy sectors, gave a huge boost to companies that already had an established digital presence. Total online sales in the UK grew by 36.6% compared year-to-year. This was the largest growth since 2007. If we consider only the month of January in 2021, online sales grew by 74% compared to 2020.
In consequence, it was an amazingly good year for mobile ecommerce channels, which grew 73% year-on-year.
The majority of these purchases were made via the online platforms of industry leaders who had invested heavily in digital business for years. E-commerce websites like Amazon were a natural choice for customers who, due to Covid-19 restrictions, had lost the ability to buy goods in their local, ”around the corner” store. Online sales categories which grew most compared to 2020 were:
- garden (+222.5%)
- electricals (+90.8%)
Product categories which were already well-established in the online environment, like clothing, performed surprisingly poorly, up just 1.3% in 2020 compared to growth of 8.2% the year before.
This suggests that there’s still a place to grow in niches that are not developed to the maximum.
This means that for other players, the upcoming years are the last chance to join the race and ensure their growth. However, to be successful, it is essential to remember that the key to creating digital products that will delight customers and beat the competition is:
- knowing the needs of your users and clients,
- correlating them with the business model chosen by your company,
- analyzing the competition - its products, methods of communication, and promotions.
Create a new application or improve or rebuild an existing one?
In creating competitive digital products, there are situations in which an already existing application requires improvements or the addition of new features. Low programming standards, outdated technology, or a lack of connection to business realities can result in a built application that works but does not fulfil its function. It does not generate profit (or generates very little) and does not provide value to customers.
Technological debt is the main risk here - digital products are becoming obsolete incredibly fast. Sometimes, all they need is a new UX and redesign, in other cases it’s simply easier and more economical to build something new, starting from scratch.
In such a situation, we usually (every case is different!) suggest two approaches:
- create an application entirely from scratch,
- improve implemented functionalities.
Which solution is more beneficial for the organization? It is impossible to give a clear answer to this question without a code and UX audit and a business analysis of your business needs. Each case is different, and to research the needs of our potential collaborators we use a flexible set of tools, like Product Discovery Workshops or Needs Analysis.
Key features of apps and other digital products that will boost your business
Obviously, it’s not enough to simply create an app. Software development is a complex domain that involves knowledge and skills from other related industries. However, we are able to highlight some key points to consider if you wish your next digital product (mobile or web app, or anything else - they’re quite universal) to be successful:
- Product design and UX/UI – For us, the UX/UI design and software development are just different sides of the same coin. Design created according to UX/UI principles not only keeps users engaged but improves conversion rates, which in some cases ( depending on the nature and goals of the app) will impact ROI or other vital KPIs. If you only think about product design as a way of making an app “nice-looking”, you’re probably missing the point! While the aesthetics of a product are undoubtedly important, it’s the way the user journeys are designed, what kind of microcopy and CTAs are used, and how the UI works on mobile devices that are really crucial here!
- Well-thought-out application architecture – The basis of building digital products, including applications, is the system architecture. Sometimes building a digital product is an investment of years, in other cases, you want to build an app quickly to check on a business hypothesis (as in the case of an MVP). What I want to say here is that there’s no universal solution for product architecture and each case should be treated separately, taking into account the product’s goals, maturity and other specifics.
- Taking care of data security – It is crucial when developing applications to guarantee the highest code quality and system architecture in terms of security and stability. Cybersecurity remains one of the most important issues for any software platform. This is important not only for e-commerce apps that offer online payment using third party partners, but any other app that uses or stores the user’s data, such as messages or photos. To be honest, most applications gather at least some data, thus it’s extremely important to design the security aspects beforehand and not after a leak or hack, when the damage has already been done.
- Validation of business hypotheses – Whether we are creating a new digital product or redesigning an existing app, we should relate the work to the core business objectives. There are several ways of testing business hypotheses, and each organization should decide which one fits best. Two of the most effective methods are digital prototyping and MVPs (Minimum Viable Products). The first allows us to validate basic assumptions using no-code or low-code prototypes during tests with users. It’s also a great tool to use when pitching to potential investors or company decision makers. The minimum viable product on the other hand, is a way of testing business hypotheses using a working piece of software. After testing and validating (or not) the idea, an MVP can be either ditched or developed further. The idea here is to put a working app to the market as soon as possible, and an MVP lets you do it within 4 to 8 weeks..
- Human-centered digital product design – When developing mobile applications, it is essential to remember that people use digital products for emotional, psychological, or socio-cultural reasons. Besides the app’s functionality and performance, it is necessary to analyze what real meaning users give to the app and what needs it fulfils. This is why we always suggest our partners run user testing that will help to find answers to what users really expect to get from using a particular app. Such information can change completely the way they think about their digital product, and for some it’s a reason to change the plans for the app.
In-house app development or outsource to a mobile app agency?
Many companies that plan to develop a digital product (mobile app, web app or any customer software) face a dilemma: in-house vs outsourcing. The issue is quite easy from our side - if you have all the resources, or you lack only a single role (such as an extra frontend developer or a scrum master), then you should be ready to create an app on your own. Hiring a freelancer or a talented expert to join your team for a longer period and support it would be the most suitable solution.
In a situation where you do not have an internal software development team, or the team lacks experience or is struggling with inefficient methodology, it is worth using the services of a specialized company. This way, you will avoid many mistakes at the start, save time and deliver a well-functioning product to the market faster. This is also an amazing opportunity for your development team to learn new things, and not only technology-wise. Usually, such collaborations are amazingly beneficial when it comes to knowledge sharing as an unexpected side-effect of such collaboration.
However, it is crucial to thoroughly verify the company you intend to cooperate with, looking into resources, the technology used, forms of communication, experience and - last but not least - their business knowledge and approach.
Further important issues include efficient communication with the subcontractor, availability, timeliness and building positive relationships. If you’re interested in this topic, you can explore it in this article: How to choose a software development company?
Want to create a great app? Choose a Boldare team!
If you are looking for a reliable software team that will develop your app or help you rebuild an existing one, contact us! Feel free to browse our case study section to find more information about our recent works.