Small, Medium & Large: Creating Custom Apps for Businesses of All Sizes
By Amberly Dressler, Managing Editor
There is no denying the influence mobile apps have on where (and how) consumers spend their time, but deciding whether or not to compete in this environment with a custom application can be difficult at best - and recent data isn't all that encouraging.
Of the top nine apps (by unique visitors), eight of them are owned by Facebook or Google according to 2015 data from comScore. What's more, only four categories represent the top 25 apps, including utilities like maps and weather (which make up nine of the top 25), social like Facebook and Instagram (seven), entertainment like YouTube and Pandora (six), and retail like Amazon and eBay (three). Many brands, however, are not deterred. They are finding apps to be a more accessible channel to reach customers, according to Amir Ghodrati, data analysis manager at App Annie; and often a more rewarding and convenient experience than the mobile Web or Web itself.
"App Annie knows from speaking to several U.S.-based retailers that their mobile app users represent a very loyal segment of their total customer base and also have higher-value baskets than their Web counterparts," said Ghodrati. "We believe that mobile apps are a critical platform for retailers to continue to invest in to engage their most loyal customers, drive stronger sales and deliver a more frictionless experience than the Web."
With a smartphone never too far away from its owner, custom mobile apps present an incredible opportunity for companies to position their brands on a person's home screen but they need to develop their asset first. How are companies building custom apps today? Website Magazine explores a few popular options below:
Small Business Offerings: Appy Pie
With more than 1 million apps created on its platform, Appy Pie is a popular do-it-yourself (DIY) app builder for those without much (or any) technical expertise. Its drag-and-drop functionality is easy to use thanks to pre-created themes and templates; its pricing plans are accessible as well with costs ranging from free (supported by in-app ads) to $50 a month (depending on the operating systems, app store submission, push notifications, etc.).
It's important to note that while Appy Pie provides functionality that modern users expect (social integrations, reviews), it should primarily be used for small-business purposes (e.g., food delivery, churches, lawyers, etc.) as it does not offer enterprise-level features (like workflows or approval processes or customer lifecycle tracking).
+ Other small business DIY options include Como DIY, BuildFire and instappy.
Do It for Me
Beyond some of the DIY options mentioned here, companies may want to consider a marketplace like 99designs or Crew to meet developers or teams that can build their apps. For more do-it-for-me options, visit wsm.co/notdiyer.
Mid-Sized Companies: Adobe PhoneGap
+ Trigger.io, appery.io and Mobile Roadie are other options worth exploring for mid-sized companies.
Enterprise Solutions: Appcelerator (Part of Axway)
+ Appcelerator competitors include OutSystems, IBM MobileFirst and Verivo.