Monday, 3 April 2017

10 Things to Consider When Creating an Ecommerce Mobile App

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One of the best things of living in the 21st century is that you can be a business owner without owning an actual business — a brick and mortar business, that is. Unfortunately, the benefit of being able to do business without a physical location also creates the problem of low customer visibility. That’s where a mobile app comes in. One of the many benefits of mobile apps is that they give your business the much-needed mobile presence it needs in our mobile-first world. Take a look below for
10 things to consider when creating an ecommerce mobile app:

1: App Store Optimization (ASO)

A natural first on this list is app store optimization (ASO). If you’re familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), you have the foundation for what ASO is. The goal with ASO is to optimize your app to make it rank higher in the app store, whether it’s the Apple App Store, Google Play, Amazon App Store, or any variation out there. This means analyzing your app’s keywords, description, in-app screenshots, the works.

Remember, higher ranking means more discoverability, which translates to more downloads. Hence, ASO is a must.

2: Competition

Some items in this list go hand-in-hand by nature. One such example is ASO and your competition. To clarify, this means analyzing your competition to see what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. Regarding ASO, look for ecommerce apps at the top of app store search results and take everything in. What keywords are they using, and similarly, what does their description say? What do their in-app screenshots look like?
Unrelated to ASO but still important, download some of your competitor apps and test them out. What you want here is to create a checklist of what works and what doesn’t. When you create your app, improve what works and fix what doesn’t.

3: User Interface (UI)

User interface (UI) guides the user’s experience throughout the app’s interface, and describes how elements in your app function. It’s an ecommerce mobile app, so don’t present it like a desktop ecommerce site. Begin the design process with a mobile user in mind and go from there.

4: User Experience (UX)

Out of UI comes UX. UX is all about creating a seamless experience throughout your app. It’s the sequence of actions, thoughts and impressions that your users generate as they maneuver through the app. A UX optimized design focuses on usability and ease of use. It takes into account how users will interact with your app and how that interaction can be improved.

5: Scalable Infrastructure

Your ecommerce app’s scalability is of utmost importance if you plan on growing in the future. Imagine a spike in downloads because your app was mentioned in a popular blog. You want to be able to accommodate for the extra traffic and unexpected loads. Start with a stable API foundation that’s easy to scale. As an example, a lot startups nowadays are developing apps in the cloud with services that allow you to pay only for what you use. This allows you to minimize expenditures while leaving an open avenue for growth.

6: Customer Service

One of the easiest considerations to look over in mobile application development, good customer service is vital for ecommerce mobile apps. It’s where your customers turn whenever they come across an issue with your app or services, and can make the difference between a customer and a dropped cart. As such, you need to make sure that your users always have a good customer service experience.

7: Incentives for Sharing

Incentivizing users to share your app creates a whole new marketing channel. If 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, imagine what you can do with actual recommendations in the form of shares? For example, you can offer discounts for users who share the app with their friends and family (higher discounts if third-party becomes a customer).

8: Checkout Process

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Arguably one of the most important things on this list, you need to make the checkout process as simple and user-friendly as possible. The fewer steps the better (aim for a maximum of three), so do all that you can to facilitate the journey from cart to checkout. Some things you can do (besides making the ‘Add to Cart’ button as prominent as possible without being obtrusive) are:

Store customer information
Enable automatic reordering
Eliminate multi-page sign-ups

9: Repeat Purchases

If your app ends with the checkout process, you’re doing something wrong. Give your customers a reason to return to your app and make more purchases to generate residual income. You can offer discounts for repeat customers, loyalty programs that encourage multiple visits, or memberships for limited items. As an ecommerce app, one of your goals is to not only create customers, but also retain them.

10: Analytics

Rounding off this list are your ecommerce app’s analytics. These include tracking your users, both new and returning, your app’s most popular features/items, etc. The point of tracking analytics is to get an understanding of how your users are interacting with your app so that you can improve their experience. Accentuate what users like and fix what they don’t. Is there a certain point within your app in which an abnormally large number of users are logging of? If so, you might have some issues to deal with that’s causing high abandonment rates. Go through everything until you have a seamless journey from launch to checkout.

Wrapping Up

There are many benefits of mobile apps that come with pairing one with your ecommerce business, and hopefully by now you’re ready to tackle your next ecommerce mobile application development project. If that’s you, here’s a roundup of what we covered today:

1. App Store Optimization (AOS)
2. Competition
3. User Interface (UI)
4. User Experience (UX)
5. Scalable Infrastructure
6. Customer Service
7. Incentives for Sharing
8. Checkout Process
9. Repeat Purchases
10. Analytics

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Investors, Here's What You Need to Know About Mobile App Development

Mobile Applications

It’s 2017 and mobile is as big as ever. In fact, there’s a very good chance you’ve already heard that we live in a mobile-first world in which mobile users exceed desktop users. Go to any restaurant, from McDonald’s to a Michelin-starred restaurant, and you’ll see countless patrons eating with their mobile phone nestled by their plate. You might even see some preferring their phone’s company to that of their dining companion. Keep that image in mind as you mull over these statistics:
52% of time spent on digital media is spent in mobile apps
The Apple App Store has about 2 million apps; Google Play has over 2.2 million
People between the ages of 18 and 24 use more mobile apps than any other age group

Internal and External Mobile Apps

Mobile app development has quickly become the cornerstone of many business’ growth strategy. There are two routes to take with this plan of action: internal and external apps. Internal apps are those used by the business itself, and external apps are client-facing. We’re going to focus on external apps today, but before we do that, let’s get acquainted with internal apps.

Internal Mobile Applications

Choosing to go internal with a mobile app development strategy has its benefits. For one, they can automate tasks and streamline work. And because they’re made internally, they can be tailored for anything. If it can be coded, it can be programmed. Let’s say you have a business with open positions that require training. You can always have someone train new employees, but that takes time and money away from what they would be doing otherwise. If, instead, you developed an app that can serve as a training tool, you would be able to use it time and time again at no additional cost (apart from the initial development costs).

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Now imagine that you’re an enterprise with an environmentally conscious mission statement and like-minded clients.  Sticking with your mission statement, you can develop a carpooling app that conserves fuel and limits harmful emissions. Better yet, you can keep your clients happy by offering them the app.

Benefits of Mobile Apps

Now we shift the focus to external apps. These apps are excellent for increasing brand awareness, fostering customer loyalty, and keeping ahead of the competition. Because they’re client-facing, it’s very important to think like a consumer.

Customer Convenience

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One of the easiest ways to improve customer convenience is through customer service. If you have deep pockets, you can opt for an app with a chatbot that provides 24/7 service. Whenever your customers have a question, they can open the app and ask away. Another way is to include a loyalty program within an ecommerce app. For starters, the app is convenient because they can shop at all times from any location. Apart from that, loyalty programs allow shoppers to build up points for rewards, further incentivizing them to give you their business.

Customer Engagement

Increasing customer engagement has the added benefit of increasing your own revenue. Why? The more engaged they are with your brand, the more likely your customers are to turn to you. An interesting way of increasing engagement is by doing what the Home Depot did and make use of real-time data and geo-location. They customized display ads to reach target consumers within a 15 mile radius of a Home Depot store, effectively earning 8X in-store ROI. Switch display ads for an app and you have your plan. The goal here is to combine real-time location, customer history and push-notifications. Step one is to program location-tracking and push-notifications into the app. The next step is to make use of your customer’s information, namely their browsing and shopping history.

Now let’s paint a scene: your customer has your app on their phone and they’re walking by or in your store. If they’re outside you can send them a notification with a sale or promotion that will draw them in. If they’re already inside you can utilize the Internet of Things and program sensors inside the store to send them notifications about specific items that match their preferences. Do this and you’ll provide them with a personalized experience that is sure to increase engagement.

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Are You Investing in Mobile Apps?

There are many benefits of mobile apps that we didn’t cover today. That being said, what we did cover should definitely whet you appetite for mobile application development. Don’t let the cost of developing an app turn you away either; there are always cheaper options. One such alternative is to utilize an app template that will greatly reduce the overall development cost. But it done correctly, you’ll more than make up for the cost of getting an app.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Mobile App

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It used to be the case that mobile apps were restricted to businesses that had extra time and money to invest into their development. Not anymore. Nowadays, a mobile presence is a necessity and one that can pay for itself in the long run. With 80% of Internet users owning a smartphone and people spending more time on mobile devices than desktop, the smart move is to take note and adapt to the changing environment. It’s also the case that going mobile with responsive sites isn’t enough, especially when there’s been a preference for app use (89%) vs. mobile web use (11%), with a 98% growth in mobile app usage between 2015 and 2016.

The Many Benefits of Mobile Apps for Businesses

It seems that people everywhere are attached to their smartphones and consider them as extensions of the self. Because of this, apps are becoming key marketing tools that allow for increased engagement and visibility, higher revenue, faster growth and more. Take a look at these statistics from PR Newswire that outline some benefits of utilizing mobile applications:
● Shoppers using mobile applications browse 286% more products than mobile web shoppers, contributing to an add-to-cart rate 90% higher than mobile web
● Overall conversion rates on apps is 120% higher than mobile web
● 40% of eCommerce transactions involve multiple devices along the path to purchase
● Mobile commerce accounts for 35% of retail eCommerce sales worldwide and 50% in the US
Still not convinced that your business should embark in mobile application development? Check out these five reasons that prove otherwise.

1. Stand out from Your Competition

Having a mobile app for your business is a good way to stand out from your competition. For starters, if they have one and you don’t, you’re already behind and definitely need to catch up. If neither you nor your competition has one, then you need to distinguish yourself and use this as an opportunity to get ahead.

2. Increase Your Revenue

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Every hour almost 160,000 products are purchased from mobile devices on Amazon. Translation? People are shopping on mobile devices with increased frequency. This presents a wonderful opportunity to penetrate a previously untapped market and drastically increase your revenue. In simplest terms, mobile applications equate to increased sales because you’re offering customers an easier and more convenient way to shop. Not only can you facilitate the checkout process and make it faster, but you’re also making it so that customers can reach your store anytime, anywhere.

3. Build Brand Recognition

Similar to standing out from your competition, mobile application development for your business allows you to mold your brand to your own standards and specifications. Not only that, but branding also adds a recognition factor to your business that presents it as more reliable and evokes a sense of trust. In other words, when people know your business they’re more likely to come to you and see you as a source of information.

4.  Improve Customer Service

One of the top benefits of mobile apps is that they improve the customer service experience and increase your business’ connectivity and reach. Attaching a mobile app to your business means that you’re available 24/7, and can therefore engage with customers at all times because apps are convenient, accessible and improve our standard of life. You become a constant presence on your customers’ phones accelerate their contact with your brand. Moreover, you can further improve your customer service by adding a chatbot feature to your app for true 24/7 service.

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5. Create a Marketing Channel

Last but not least, mobile applications can also function as a direct marketing channel that attracts and engages customers, and provides further incentives for retention. To begin with, you can learn a lot about your customers from your app’s analytics and can tailor specific products and recommendations for them. This not only increases the odds of a sale, but it also personalizes the app for them and makes it more user-friendly. Adding a loyalty program that rewards certain behaviors is also a good way to retain customers. Offering special discounts or promotions keeps them coming back and the addition of a referral program can serve as further incentive for them while attracting new customers to you. To top things off, utilizing push notifications ensures that you’re never too far from you customer’s reach and that they’re up to date and with any new and relevant information.

Are You Considering Mobile Application Development?

By now, you’ve seen some of the many benefits of mobile apps and can make an informed decision as to whether or not you should add one as your business’ next venture. A mobile app for your business lets you stand out from your competition and provides an avenue for branding, can increase your revenue by creating a whole new marketing channel, and improves your customer service experience to ensure that your customers are happy. If you do decide to develop an app (as you really should), make sure it’s easy to use with a friendly user interface, appealing designs and easy navigation, and that it provides useful content that keeps customers coming back.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

7 Factors to Consider Before Launching a Mobile Application

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Did you know that worldwide app downloads are forecasted to reach nearly 270 billion in 2017? Or that the average app user in the US downloaded 8.8 apps per month in 2014? There are many apps out there and many more to come. These apps are filtered into categories that range from entertainment to communication. They’re used by children, teens, adults, and are now being made by businesses for businesses.

Mobile Applications For Your Business

Considering that 90% of consumers’ mobile time is spent using apps, incorporating mobile apps in your business plan is a smart marketing move in the mobile-first world we live in. You can:

●   Improve the customer service experience by making use of AI and including a chatbot function that allows you to service many customers at the same time 

●   Provide more value to your customers and increase repeated visits by including coupons, promotions, or loyalty reward programs as an app feature 

●   Increase engagement by adding geo-location during the mobile application development process and sending special offers to customers who are in your vicinity
Before adding features, though, you need to consider seven factors that will help you out as you develop and launch your app.

What Should I Consider?

1. Market Research

Your first objective is to research the market. Get a feel for the atmosphere and see where you fit. How will your app change the way people live their day? Make sure that your app provides a benefit for people to use. Follow trends and discover who your competitors are. What are they doing? Build on what they’re doing right and improve on they’re doing wrong.

2. Marketing to Your Users

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You’ll have an idea of who your ideal user is after conducting market research. Use this information and market to them. How can you improve their lives and their interactions with your brand? Everyone’s needs are different and you need to know who you’re trying to help.

3. Platforms

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In a perfect world you have unlimited resources and can develop an application on all platforms from the get-go. With a finite amount of money you have to decide in which platform your app will perform better. If you’re thinking of going with an enterprise app, iOS is a more secure option. Apple has an iOS Developer Enterprise Program and recently announced a partnership with IBM for mobile enterprise apps. If you want more access to the software, Android is best. It has an open source operating system that allows for modifications. You also have to consider programming languages. iOS uses Objective-C, Android uses Java, Windows Mobile uses C++, and web apps use a combination of JavaScript, HTML 5, CSS3, and so on.

4. Native vs. Mobile Web

Before debating which platform you want your app to target, you have to decide if you want to create a native or mobile web app. Native apps can use device-specific hardware such as the camera, accelerometer and flashlight, and are installed directly in the device itself. They’re essentially developed for one particular platform and need the app store’s approval before being distributed. It’s a long process, but results in safer, more secure apps. Mobile web apps, on the other hand, are internet-enabled apps that are accessible through the device’s web browser. They’re easier to maintain and require no prior approval before distribution, a combination that results in less spending. They can also access a limited amount of the device’s hardware. If you’re undecided you can always go for a hybrid app that’s built with a combination of technologies like JavaScript, HTML and CSS. They’re hosted inside of a native app that uses a mobile device’s browser to display content and can be made to target multiple platforms.

5. User Interface (UI) Design

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UI design involves the elements that are used to interact with mobile apps. It’s how they function. It’s the tangible part of the app and includes the screens, buttons, and any other component that guides the user’s experience. If we’re using a vehicular analogy it would be the engine, the seats, the stereo, and anything else that contributes to the car’s structure.

6. User Experience (UX) Design

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If UI is the engine and seats, UX would be the experience of driving the car. It’s more conceptual and focuses on the user’s journey as they navigate through the app. Don Norman, the cognitive scientist who coined the term, said that "user experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” It’s the process as a whole; the sequence of actions, thoughts, and impressions a user goes through as they interact with you app.

7. Testing

Testing is essential with mobile application development. With proper feedback you can fix potential bugs before they becomes a bigger issue. Who’s your ideal user? If you have a targeted audience, you’ll benefit from a private beta launch in which a select few will be able to test the app before launching. If, instead, your audience is broad and diverse, you’ll do best with an open beta launch. You can also use services like Apple’s TestFlight that send mobile apps to internal or external beta testers for feedback.

When you finish testing you’ll have an idea on where you’re with the whole mobile application development process. You might encounter bugs that need patching or feedback that pushes you to revamp the app’s interface. But before you do any of this, do your research, find a target audience, choose a platform and the design you want to use, and be sure to create a memorable experience for your app’s users.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Why Security is so Important in Mobile Application Development

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Much like the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Medieval Period, we as a society are beginning to undergo a drastic change. What that change might be you ask? Just look around you. Chances are the vast majority of people you see everywhere are on their phone. The entirety of our planet is entering what should be called: “The Mobile Age”. In an article by PC Magazine, they state;

“By 2020, global smartphone subscriptions will more than double to 6.1 billion, 70 percent of people will use smartphones, and 90 percent will be covered by mobile broadband networks.”
Mobile first is the ideology that is almost fully encompassing our day-to-day activities. As a highly intelligent civilization, ironically we are almost useless without our cellular sidekick. Checking emails on the go, finding local businesses, messaging, and location services are all made convenient and possible by the advancement of smartphone technology. Due to this trend, mobile application development has progressively taken off as being both a lucrative business and operational activity for discussion. Mobile apps are what make smartphones in an enterprise setting immensely advantageous. However, the amount of reliability we put on these applications can actually be considered an Achilles’ heel for companies that don’t put enough time and effort to investing in mobile application security.

Issues with Security

Most companies don’t realize just how important mobile application security is and how it can prevent a slew of issues that may arise without proper encryption. According to a report by Now Secure:

      • “24.7 percent of mobile apps include at least one high risk security flaw”
      • “The average device connects to 160 unique IP addresses every day.”
      • “Business apps are three times more likely to leak login credentials than the average app.”

With an increasingly amount of smartphone users, especially in the workplace, this presents an opportunity for cybercriminals to attack. According to We Live Security, “For cybercriminals then, the economics of mobile attacks are obvious. By attacking these devices, they can reach and infect more machines, and earn more money by exploiting individual users or by selling their details via the black market.” The lack of carefulness and education involved with handling these devices by employees, has lead to expanded issues with online safety.

Need of Security

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Mobile application security issues can directly dismantle an entire corporation. Without proper protection, hackers can perform sophisticated cyber attacks enabling them to gain access to business and personal data. This could be anywhere from bank information, passwords, and sensitive data, all the way to client email lists, digital assets, critical financial files, and critical company resources. These problems can especially be detrimental to online ecommerce sellers that possess delicate customer information.

How do you Stop it?

There are quite a few steps for any business to take in order to help prevent malware and security concerns. Essentially, the biggest thing to remember is that smartphone security and online web security isn’t the same beast, you need to treat cellular safety separately. In this blog post from DarkReading, a few remarkably helpful tips are given:

   • Creating source code scanning tools can help make smartphone apps more resilient to an online attack.
   • Giving restrictions to devices that are able to download unauthorized apps, companies can take away functionalities and prevent access to important business resources.
  • Developing a capability that can remotely wipe sensitive data from compromised mobile devices can aid in the fight against data leakage.
  • Tracking context of where certain mobile transactions are coming from can help restrict access to company systems.

The idea is that prevention is the best practice. If circumstances do arise, cyber web attacks and remote device infiltration should both have the necessary steps for avoidance.
Your company’s software developers should have a zero tolerance policy against ignorance. Thinking your smartphone or tablet application is fully secured against any forms of hacking or information theft is your biggest mistake when fighting against web software bandits. Just when you least expect it, someone could potentially permeate through your development systems and take whatever information they want. Make sure to follow safe practices and keep your cellular applications safe from harm!