B2B Apps Mobile Apps

Navigating B2B Business When You Can’t Meet F2F

Without question, Covid-19 has impacted all aspects of our lives and B2B marketing is no exception. Historically, B2B relationships centered around in-person meetings and product demonstrations. But how do you sell products when you can’t sit in a conference room, present a PowerPoint, and shake hands on a deal? Today, companies are investing in technology – including mobile apps, webinars, videoconferencing, and eCommerce –  in order to maintain business flow. 

A recent article in The Drum – B2B Marketing During Covid-19: 8 Transformations to Stay Ahead,” outlines the steps B2B companies are taking in order to navigate these rapidly changing times. The article provides helpful information to all B2B marketers, but also shares a study from eMarketer, which finds that while marketing budgets are being reduced, investment in all forms of technology have risen in importance.  In other words, providing customers with the tools to continue to purchase in a way that’s congruent with today’s situation.

This includes nearly two-thirds (62%) investing in eCommerce/online sales capabilities, while a similar percentage (61%) acknowledging they are making fewer face-to-face calls with customers.  The result is more than half (54%) are investing in more in delivering “last mile” infrastructure – or as we like to think of it, “last 12 inches”, i.e. mobile applications, that connect ordering and client service systems directly to customers.

Mobile apps have the ability to do a number of things that can bring your business closer to its business customers. That includes features like:

  • Catalogs – mobile catalogs can put your most up-to-date product information right into your customers’ hands.
  • Order forms – with your clients spending less time in a traditional office, making it easy for them to order your products at the moment they need them is crucial
  • Delivery logistics – Keep your customers up-to-date on where their order is in processing. This cuts down on service calls and anxious clients.
  • Notifications – Let them know about changes to hours, product offerings, pricing specials, etc. with notifications pushed right to their mobile device
  • Tap to call directories – Cut down on customer wait times and call center workload by directing calls to the precise extension the client needs with a simple tap inside your mobile application.

Times have changed and all businesses need to quickly develop different ways of structuring their relationships with customers.  Those that make the investment will be in much better position to maintain business flow.

Call us to discuss how mobile technology can make your business more efficient and profitable.

Mobile Apps Uncategorized

Browsing In The Aisles Has Been Replaced By Browsing Mobile Apps

For retailers, Covid-19 has accelerated the changes in shopping habits they were already experiencing. The benefits of the shopping experience – browsing the aisles, checking the inventory, engaging salespeople, and in-store events – no longer apply.  The trend in the past decade or two has been toward shopping while customers are at home – or at work or waiting in line for take-out. And increasingly, this activity is happening on mobile apps.

eMarketer just released a study from App Annie that finds in June, six in ten (59%) Americans preferred to shop using their mobile phones. And as the chart below indicates, this surge is happening among most age groups, led by an astonishing nine in ten (90%) of 25-34 year-old millennials.

Since this trend began long before the pandemic, experts in retailing expect this shift in shopping behavior to be a permanent re-alignment in the way Americans are going to make purchases in the future.  Yoram Wurmser, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence notes “We expect that the effects of the pandemic will accelerate long-term trends in mobile usage.” Although some gains with mcommerce and other mobile activities will not last beyond quarantines, the baselines for mobile activities will be higher than they would have been otherwise.”

The retailing world has been upended by Covid-19.  But those retailers that have a mobile strategy in place are much more likely to evolve their businesses and survive. Key to that survival are elements like:

  • An up-to-the-minute “catalog” or “showroom” of products and/or services.
  • User registration to better serve the consumer and maintain a closer relationship via email, push messages and other communication channels.
  • Easy access to customer support
  • Simple, ecommerce transactions that are secure, easy and remember things like product preferences and payment methods.
  • The ability to expand your trading area – more customers outside of your radius will have access to your “store” than ever before.

Most businesses can be improved by establishing a relationship with the consumer on the device they spend almost 4 hours a day on. Whatever you’re selling,  redefining, streamlining, and expanding the way you connect with customers is now just a tap away.

Mobile Apps Mobile Web

Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Web: No Contest

As mobile app developers, we are frequently asked by clients why they need to invest in a native mobile app since they can build a mobile web page for a much lower cost. We always respond with the same rationale: the power of having an icon on the smartphone’s screen, a device that never leaves their side, the ability to leverage the native functionality of the smartphone (location, phone, push messaging), and being confident in a user experience tailored to the device make this an easy decision.

Now, we develop mobile apps, so we realize some are suspect about our agenda when we make the case for them. So, the decisive factor comes to us from a recent study from eMarketer, who provides the ultimate reason why businesses must invest in a mobile app if they truly want to have a successful mobile strategy:

Americans spend 88% of the time on their phones with mobile apps

Not only do apps crush the mobile web with time spent, that number is actually growing. This trend has been happening for the past 5 years, and each year apps win an increasingly lopsided victory. The mobile web is still important – but primarily for what we refer to as “The Two S’s:” searching and sampling. When the user is ready to commit, to buy, to enter into that relationship, they want your app!

A mobile app ensures your best customers have instant access to your brand, your content and the easiest way possible to engage with you. It also gives you a way to have a one-to-one relationship with those users, a way to know them, and serve them as the crucial customers they are.

Consumer expectations for brand interactions have never been higher, and the native mobile app makes it easy for your company to meet (and exceed) those expectations and deliver on the promise of your product. As the most-used device in almost all of our lives, the mobile platform enables you to develop a deep and lasting relationship with your customers in a way that a simple website simply cannot. When realized in an app, your product or service becomes a “tool” just like the camera or text in the user’s device. It’s a sure way to lock yourself in (and your competitors out).

Budget considerations are important, but so is ensuring your mobile investment is effective, especially during challenging economic times, when retaining each customer is imperative, the mobile app can create that bond. Our advice: if you’re going to invest in a mobile strategy, make sure your brand is front and center and has the best possible chance of succeeding.

It’s a safe bet.


Lessons for Business Owners During COVID-19

As the co-owner of two small business, I understand and appreciate all of the challenges we face in normal times.  And these are far from normal times.  We worry about the health of our staffs and the health of our businesses.  The rules that have always applied are being challenged, and we are forced to pivot quickly in order to keep everything together.

If you own a business that sells product to consumers, you know what I mean.  Pre-COVID-19 it was about having appealing locations, attentive service, and adequate stock displays.  We used advertising, social media, and other marketing techniques to drive traffic, and consumers stopped in to either browse or to buy.  Businesses didn’t require having any kind of relationship with these consumers, because they could just re-tool with more advertising and marketing.

And that’s the biggest lesson learned – in order to survive during and after the COVID-19 crisis, businesses are going to have to invest in having digital, one-to-one relationships with their customers.

I love restaurants, and here in Detroit there is a group that has six unique bistros that are really outstanding.  We’ve been customers of one of their restaurants for close to 30 years.  Like all restaurants, they are now closed, and trying to promote curbside pickup.  In the past week, they’ve shuttered two of their locations and we are in fear there could be more.

They are failing because they don’t know who I am.  Sure, the wait staff greets us when we come in because of our longevity, but the company doesn’t know us.  They have a weak email relationship with us, no mobile app, and no way to activate the thousands of customers who love their restaurants.  If I didn’t drive by their restaurant and saw the sign about curbside pickup, I wouldn’t have known they are offering it.

And looking around, they aren’t alone.  To my eye, the majority of local restaurants and retailers haven’t invested in developing digital relationships with their long-term customers and can’t activate them as shopping patterns radically change.

When things return to normal, every business needs to invest in three things (these are generalities – I’m sure there are other tactics that apply to specific groups):

  1. eCommerce – Online shopping and ordering for curbside pickup is going to be with us long after a cure is found for COVID-19.  There is no guarantee people are going to flock back into stores when this is over.  Online ordering + curbside pickup and/or home delivery might become the norm for all businesses (let’s face it, giants like Target and Wal-Mart were doing this before the crisis, and are perfectly positioned to serve customers during this disruption).
  2. Data & Database – How many businesses are like my restaurant, with long-term customers but no information on them?  This transactional relationship has exposed a major weakness in their business model.  Smart owners will immediately invest in requiring each customer to register for their email database and begin collecting information on them.  And not just demographic data, but preferences, shopping patterns, etc. 
  3. Invest In A Mobile App – While it’s obvious I would recommend this, how many businesses wish their app was on the home screen of all of their customers’ smartphones right now, empowering them to connect and shop while they are sitting around their homes right now?  Imagine having push messaging capability, communicating with customers about specials, new services, and discount programs.  Even businesses that didn’t have an eCommerce engine prior to COVID-19 could get one started now and build it up over time.

Like it or not, small and medium businesses compete every day with Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target.  And while those companies can invest millions in their digital strategies, developing a digital relationships with customers doesn’t need to cost a fortune. 

But the cost of not having a digital relationship with customers could.

We are here to help you make it through these troubling times.

Wishing all of you, your families, and your colleagues good health during these challenging times.

Paul Jacobs